Speed Dating, Speed Tasting: #WMC21 Live Red Wine Social

A festive live white wine tasting crew: Beth-Ellen, Pinny, Melanie, Theresa, Gwendolyn, Jennifer, wearing cork crowns made by Lisa Stoll; photo by George Rose #WMC21

Two weeks ago, the 2021 Wine Media Conference came to the end. Now in its 13th edition, I’ve attended nine in person and one virtual– missing out on gatherings in Virginia, New York, and Australia. One highlight for me has been the all day excursions, but with 2021, a lack of sponsorships meant these were lackluster. No surprise. Many wineries are not in the position to throw out all the stops for a wine event for a large or small group of journalists. The pre-and post conference excursions have also been highlights, and this was true in 2021 as well; more on these soon. 

Some sponsors really stepped up to the plate, and Troon is one of them: they stepped up to the literal plate during the Southern Oregon pre-conference excursion by providing a winery dinner prepared by Fire and Wine authors Sean Martin and Mary Cressler!

This was possibly the best ever excursion I have been on in terms of quality of content. Then Troon’s Craig Camp also stepped up to the plate by taking myself and a few other wine journalists out to a #GoingRogue dinner after the conference. With full disclosure here, I will be writing about Troon for Slow Wine Guide and sharing my in-depth interview with GM Craig Camp here as well soon. Each of these opportunities bring more knowledge to tell this complex story of transition from conventional to biodynamic farming. Troon also stepped up as a sponsor for both the white and the red Live Wine Socials; read about the white wine social here where I compared the speed tasting with blind wine tasting for Team USA.

Live wine socials at the Wine Media conference are more like speed dating than anything else, even with the 2021 COVID modified protocol. In eight short minutes, you get an elevator pitch of sorts while you taste and tweet, and take notes about the wine.

In the past, during the speed tasting, we had only five minutes to get to know each wine before they had to hustle to the next table to give their pitch and answer questions.

But with COVID, we all tasted the same wines which were set on the table while the wineries took turns talking to all of us using a microphone– and the wineries had eight minutes to pitch us– and see if we want to go on a date…

For the white wine social in 2021, since I prefer typing on my laptop to pecking on my cell phone, I tried to take notes on my laptop which I then cut and pasted into twitter and added a photo. Even with eight minutes, this was challenging, so for the red wines, I merely typed directly into twitter and added a photo. This event followed the Ignite!Wine where I spoke so my adrenaline was likely still pumping! (More on my presentation soon!)

Here are the results: 

Everyone thinks of Oregon for Pinot noir, but not so! Southern Oregon is a hot bed of  Rhone and Spanish varietals. Troon’s very classic Syrah in many ways with plentiful blue fruit and black pepper on the finish, especially as it opens up. 

And speaking of Oregon and Pinot noir… we sampled three of them during the blind tasting:

There was a great story about the postage stamp label but I missed it trying to keep up. I definitely hope they go back to the old way– even with only five minutes I feel like I get more out of the “date.”

Speaking of step-in guppy’s to the plate, when Friday night excursion sponsors pulled out, Pfeiffer graciously hosted half of the writers at the conference at their Junction City winery.  I first visited Pfeiffer almost 10 years ago — so many changes! Lots of growth as a venue.

Robin Pfeiffer was a teacher for many years and he continues to love to teach, especially about Pinot Noir, and he really knows a lot which you can read here.  

25 Riesling? 25 Pinot noir? 

I think I mean SKUs, that Brooks produces 25 different versions of each. The Brooks “Ara” riesling is likely my favorite new world one, and the Rastaban is one of my favorite Oregon pinot noirs; I paired it with duck here.

Look at that color!

Not to mention that Janie Brooks is one of the nicest people on the planet and I really enjoy reading her weekly newsletters; you too can subscribe. I aspire to write that way for my clients!

ALSO: I have bottles of the Brooks 2017 ECLIPSE wines– yes, riesling and Pinot noir! Super excited to sample and review those soon! Subscribe so you don’t miss out on that one!! 

Watch for Knotty Vines on your supermarket shelves for a great wine at a great price!

So do you want to date any of these wines? I sure do! I’m looking forward to learning more and sharing their stories with you!

In the meantime, thanks to the sponsors of the 2021 Red Wine Social:

Thanks to my tablemates for joining in wearing cork crowns by Wine Tasting Team USA member Lisa Stoll!

Order your cork crown here and you too can be Wine Royalty!
 Lisa makes custom ones with your favorite corks from your favorite wineries!

Read more about how the 2021 conference went, and where the conference will be in 2022!

2021 was my ninth year to attend– 10 if we count last year’s virtual conference! Read my highlights from last year’s virtual conference, #WMC20:

About the conference: 

The 13th 2021 Wine Media Conference took place August 5 – 7 in Eugene, Oregon where everyone wore masks and all who attended showed proof of COVID vaccinations. Formerly called the Wine Bloggers Conference, the event continues to feature bloggers who are not only passionate about wine, but enjoy communicating this to our audiences via blogs, social media, apps, and more to produce a spiral of viral conversations.

“Because of this, wine bloggers, writers, social media users, and industry communicators are a crucial aspect of the industry, a connection between wineries and consumers,” say organizers. 

We give a voice to the wine industry, and are, by any definition, wine industry influencers.

Attending the conference has influenced me as a wine writer in impressive ways which I shared here:


Stay tuned and subscribe for my Ignite!Wine presentation coming up soon as well as stories from Southern Oregon. 

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