Last Sunday, after driving the three hours home from Charlottesville, I walked in the door to my condo…full of blogging ideas and excited to share the details of my weekend with both Hubby and you guys. I needed to collapse on the couch before I could think about any of it, though. So, as I caved to my exhaustion, Hubby kissed me hello, chuckled at me for not realizing that I could no longer party like a rock star, and teased me for going to a blogging conference and, well, not blogging. Clearly, my ambitious plan of trying to blog highlights every day fell through after my initial post announcing that I arrived. To be fair, I did a lot of tweeting—far more than I did at WBC09—but I still haven’t worked out the right blogging strategy. Maybe next year in Oregon for WBC12?!
After whirlwind of wine tasting, blogger networking, and session attending, not to mention evening partying that went on until the wee-hours of the morning, I returned to DC with a full workload at my everyday job that has kept me from blogging. Finally, though, after a week of avoiding wine and working late, I am ready to dive in and share everything. And what better way to do that than sharing some highlights as a recap of the weekend!
Spending time with friends.
Shelby (from Eat, Drink, and Run) and I were roomies during WBC11. She and I knew each other long before either of us started blogging, but as some of our interests have merged, it was fun to spend time together geeking out over wines and blogging tips, not to mention being able to just catch up on life and even hitting the treadmill for a quick run on Friday morning.
I will spare my other two girlfriends the embarrassment of putting their pictures up on my blog, but the wonderful thing about the Charlottesville location for WBC11 was that I had a chance to catch up with long-time friends that I don’t see very often. On Thursday night before the conference and Sunday morning afterwards, Shelby and I met up with friends that live locally for some good food, drinks, and conversation.
The Virginia wine reception at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello
One of the things that will make this conference so memorable was spending Friday evening the home of America’s “first distinguished viticulturist” —Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. At over 100 degrees, was it an inferno at Monticello as some other attendees have suggested? Unfortunately, yes. However, was it also the experience of a lifetime? Absolutely, yes. The bloggers that decided to brave the heat and humidity tasted wines from more than 30 of the Commonwealth’s vineyards at the home of and “the greatest patron of wine and wine growing that this country has yet had.” The likelihood of ever being able to do that again is very small, and I’m thrilled that I had the opportunity.
Admittedly, I mainly stuck to the white wines because it was just too hot to drink reds, but I ate my first pork belly slider, found some Virginia white wines that I’d never heard of much less tasted, and met a few new bloggers, including Gabriel from Food for the Rest of Us. In fact, Gabriel pointed me towards my Catoctin Creek Winery’s Vidal Blanc, which was my first Virginia micro-winery wine.
I have more to share about the Monticello tasting, so I don’t want to give everything away now, but it was a lot of fun, even in the heat.
- Drinking wine and beer in the ballroom
Friday night was a busy night. After the Monticello dinner and the “The Other 46” wine tasting, a number of bloggers grabbed some of the left over Cabot Creamery cheddarand settled into an evening of indulging in Virginia wine and Vermont beer.It all started because Frank (from Drink What YOU Like) and I were catching up. The next thing I knew, he introduced Shelby and me to VA Wine Dive and Grape Envy Guy (from Swirl, Sip, Snark), Paul and Warren (from Virginia Wine Time), Jason (from Ancient Fire Wine) and Todd (from Vermont Wine Media). The group talked late into the night. It was fun discussing Virginia wine with people who have dedicated their blogging to watching the industry grow over the last few years. It was also interesting talking with Jason who is trying to increase the visibility of the New Hampshire wine industry by incorporating many of the techniques that the VA wine bloggers have used.The best part of the late night gathering, though, was drinking Vermont beer with Todd while discussing sake. The great thing about wine bloggers is that they often don’t limit themselves to just drinking wine. The VT beer was a refreshing change from the wine and Todd was very knowledgeable about sake, even knowing the bottle of sparkling sake that I recently reviewed. It was a conversation that highlighted how much more I have to learn, while also making me excited about learning it.
The Vineyard Visits on Saturday
Shelby and I were lucky enough to get onto bus #2, which went to three Virginia wineries—Flying Fox Vineyard, Cardinal Point Vineyard & Winery, and Afton Mountain Vineyards. Almost all of the other buses only stopped at 2, so the extra stop was a treat. While I tasted wines from two of the three vineyards before, there is always something special about walking around the property and talking with someone who is an expert on that particular winery’s wines. In fact, at both Cardinal Point and Afton Mountain, I had the opportunity to talk one-on-one with the winemaker, which is like talking to an artist.
- Dinner with Jancis Robinson
It happened accidentally, but I give full credit to Rob (from Corks and Caftans) and Rick (from Oenorific) for making it happen. It all started because Rob introduced himself during the pre-dinner Cognac tasting. He and his wife, Carey, and I all started blogging around the same time, and we read each other’s work while making the occasional comment. So, I was a little star struck when he came over because he and Carey are very cool, take amazing photographs, and write a fabulous blog about wine, fashion, and life. We fell easily into talking and quickly made introductions, which is how Shelby and I met Rick.
The four of us decided to eat dinner together, so Rob went looking for a space that not only had enough room for all of us, but also would give us a good view of the 2011 Wine Blog Award presentations. We ended up at the table with Tim and Robin (from CheapWineRatings.com), who I hadn’t seen them since WBC09. Little did we know that Tim was holding three of the seats for Jancis and her guests.
When Jancis and her guests showed up, the rest of us were pleasantly surprised. The room was loud, so there wasn’t too much discussion about the 9 wines or the 5-course dinner, but it was nice to hear some of her thoughts on the conference, blogging, and Charlottesville.
All in all, it was an action packed weekend. I wish I had done more blogging, and truthfully, I wish the conference was a little more blogging focused…or at least wine blogging focused. That said, I tasted some great wines (and some not-so-great wines), met new wine bloggers, and caught up with wine blogging friends. I also left thinking that maybe I need to focus a little more on the personal side of my blog. It’s hard because I am limited to how much detail I can share about my day-to-day work, but at the same time, I think I can do more than what I share now, and do it in a way that is a little more personally engaging. So, if you start as you start to notice some changes, let me know what you think.
PS—To meet some of the WBC bloggers, check out Wine Compass’ video of 16 wine bloggers mentioning why they blog. You’ll see me at 3:06!
Also, for some other interesting takes on WBC11, stop by:
- Eat, Drink, and Run’s “You can stand under my Monticello”
- Swirl, Sip, Snark’s “Wine Bloggers Conference 2011 Deathmatch Reviews in the Squared Circle”
- Girl on Wine’s “Scattered Thoughts on WBC2011 and Virginia Wine”
- Wannabe Wino’s “Take Aways from the 2011 Wine Blogger Conference”
- Tom Wark from Fermentation’s “What I’ve Learned At The 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference.”