I was up and at ‘em first thing Friday morning July 24 helping Zephyr Wine Adventures and Open Wine Consortium get registration going for all the excited participants of the 2009 Wine Bloggers Conference.
The Flamingo Hotel lobby was hustle bustle with cases of wines rolling through for set-up in one banquet room for the sponsor reception, and lunch and more wine ready to go in another.
People recognizing each other from twitter and blog handles embraced like the old friends they’ve become via social media–even though many of them had never met in person. Others renewed friendships made at last year’s conference and all the while laptop keys were clicking and iPhones popping.
Getting a Spice Zin tattoo from @insidesonoma…
Tasting Biodynamic wines from Bonny Doon and talking kids with winemaker and President for life Randall Grahm…
Telling the Bottle shock folks how much I enjoyed their movie and appreciated their fine cast…
Collecting a few vinfolio wine tasting books and suggesting they attach a pen to the ribbon bookmark…
Grabbing some mediocre lunch with some exceptional truffles from Sonoma County Winegrape Commission (who needs lunch anyway when there’s truffles and so much wine to enjoy? ummm, me?)…
Checking back in to make sure registration continued to go smoothly…
After lunch, we settled around tables for the Live Wine Blogging, but since most of us were having difficulties getting online, the American Wine Blogging Awards, organized by Tom Wark of Fermentation and sponsored by Mutineer Magazine, came first. Winners received as a trophy beautiful etched decanters by Reidel.
The winners were announced back in March so there were no surprises in who won trophies. Now who received the trophies and how they did it was a bit more fun and listening to them say a few words was well worthwhile–especially since Cellar Rat provided us with some of his stellar syrah to toast the winners with! (One of the best of the weekend, according to Ken Payton on Sunday.)
American Wine Blog Award Winners
According to Tom Wark, on his blog Fermentation,
“The winners in the seven categories each had to be nominated first, then be chosen as finalists by a panel of judges, then be judged both by the public as well as by the same set of judges. There was most certainly some vetting going on.
Best Wine Writing On a Blog
Best Graphics or Presentation
THE GOOD GRAPE
Best Single Subject Blog
Best Business/Industry Blog
THE WINE COLLECTOR
Best Winery Blog
MICHEL-SCHLUMBERGER’S “BENCHLAND BLOG”
Best Wine Reviews
BIGGER THAN YOUR HEAD
Best Overall Blog
Alder Yarrow of Vinography acceptance speech came to us via a video due to show up on YouTube and which I will link to ASAP!
Next up: Live Wine Blogging. Unfortunately, the wifi continued to be a challenge for many, including me. In fact, getting online was a challenge on and off all weekend as many of us wanted to have several windows open at a time in order to blog, tweet, and who knows what all else. The upshot is I actually lost several live blog posts as well as tweets and finally resorted to taking notes in word. Others used old fashioned pen and paper, but somehow I didn’t have any nearby when I was in need!
For the Live Blogging event, the idea was that every five minutes a new wine and winery would come to the table and pour so we could taste, tweet, and blog while listening to the wine rep who was often the wine maker. Then, rotate! Next wine please!
Here are three posts from the occasion that DID get up during the Wifi wine whine:
WBC 09 Live Blogging: Rodney Strong Cab Alex Valley 05’s got the fins of a 50s caddy
WBC 09 Live Blog: El Milona HS school project grows next gen of wine growers
WBC 09 Live Wine Blogging: Benovia 07 Pinot Noir Savoy vineyard
also these tweets made it off the laptop:
benovia pinot noir yummy lots of body flavor not much in the nose #wbc09
benovia 07 is second vintage russiona river west of santa rosa #wbc09
Here are some notes I imported from Word:
35 ribolo guila gives a spiciness like peppermint like gardenia like
16.6 petit syrah bottle your own wine kaz $36 lake county lots of fruit like dessert it’s different show no sulfites
2006 petit syrah Livermore
HAHA! Ummm, yeah. It was hectic. That’s when I gave up.
But I’m not willing to let go of the topic until I add a few notes about two wines: River of Skulls Mourvedre from Twisted Oak presented by El Jefe which was memorable in every sense of the word, and an incredible white wine from wine maker Kim Matheisen which may have been one of the most memorable wines of the whole weekend–and it seemed like many agreed; at least that was the buzz I heard. Check back here for more on that one. I also have some handouts and some scribbles which I will try to sort through and add info from as well as links to the wineries.
Live Wine Blogging was followed by another tasting–this one outside beside the pool where we were given very light plastic wine glasses unlike any plastic wine glasses I’d had before. Simple: They worked. And I happily took mine home!
Montemogiore was a favorite there for me, and for others, and I look forward to learning more about this winery and their sustainable practices in Dry Creek Valley. I also enjoyed talking to Mr. Frick of Frick, and loved his wines too.
Dinner ushered us back into the cave of the Flamingo’s Banquet Hall where four more wines graced the table and I had the pleasure of sitting with Marcy Gordon on one side and–??? now I can’t remember!!–on the other. (Was it you?)
I didn’t expect much from dinner but my filet mignon was perfect and the greens for the salad were delicate and fresh. When dressed with organic olive oil and good balsamic from my trusty VW Westy, they were wonderful. We also used the oil and balsamic to dip our bread.
Maybe I was tired, but there wasn’t much to report on from the keynote speaker. I wasn’t too tired to head over to the next tasting however! There I was most impressed with Swann’s wines and Merry Edwards, and enjoyed catching up with Kelly Conrad of Gallo who I met last year. The room was way hot and crowded and many of the red wines were too warm. We had a jolly time nonetheless, and I have a few more notes on the wines I’ll add here when I get a chance.
By then it was close to midnight. But there was more to say, more to talk about, and so some of us did until even later in the evening.
What a day! What a night! And more in store! Check back for more about Day 2 of the Wine Bloggers Conference 2009!
Here are the links to the original posts on Art Predator: