To start Day 2 of the Wine Bloggers’ Conference, I quickly grabbed breakfast at the hotel restuarant before catching our 9:00am shuttle to Napa Valley. While doing so, Kathleen Rake (@KathleenRake) from Between the Vines asked me to sit at her table. As we were finishing up, Karen Curney (@WineBard) from Wine Bard joined us. While we didn’t have much too time to talk, it was the first time I had a chance to talk with either blogger, and it was nice getting to know them a little better. It was a great way to start the day.
After breakfast, the three of us headed to the buses. The bus rides on Day 2 provided a great opportunity to get to know other people attending the conference, and while I didn’t end up on the same bus as Kathleen and Karen, I was fortunate enough to site next to Robyn from CheapWineRatings.com. She and her husband, Tim, have a wonderful blog, and Tim actually was a speaker on Day 3 of our conference. Robyn and I spent the entire ride to the the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone talking and enjoying the scenery.
We had a gorgeous day for exploring Napa, and our stop at the CIA was the first of many picturesque places that we vistied. The building was as gorgeous on the outside as it was on the inside.
Once inside the building, the bloggers headed up to the third floor for a morning of keynote speakers.
Our first speakers welcomed us to the CIA. The President of the school gave us a particularly warm welcome, telling us about the building, about the various CIA campuses, and about courses the CIA offers. He referred to himself as Dumbledore, and with his wonderful accent and the magic in the pastries and coffee that were served, I’m not questioning his nickname in the slightest.
The speaker highlight of the conference was our first speaker, Barry Schuler (@BSchuler). His talk was about “The Future of Blogging and Social Media,” and as you can see from the first slide, he injected humor and “real life” into his look at social media.
That said, what he talked about was anything but “random rants.” In fact, as I tweeted during the speech, Schuler wasan engaging speaker precisely because his talk informative, funny, and relevant. Surprisingly, not everyone at the conference did this, but Schuler never forgot who his audience was or why we were there listening to him. If you ever have the chance to listen or to ask Schuler to speak, don’t pass up the opportunity.
Jim Gordon, editor of Wines & Vines, was our second speaker, and he focused on the future of blogging and wine writing. For some of the more experience bloggers in the audience, his talk may not have been as helpful. However, for someone like me who is new to wine blogging, he provided some good insight to wine writing in general. There was a little push back on the emphasis that Gordon placed on fact-checking because some people felt that it was easier for Gordon, who has a staff at the magazine to research the accuracy of information, to have such an emphasis on fact-checking, but that it is an impractical task for bloggers. However, as bloggers, all we have is credibility, so it behooves us to do some research beforehand. It takes a long time to build trust and credibility with readers, but only a moment to lose it, so I thought that Gordon’s point was a useful one.
After Gordon finished, all of the WBC09 conference attendees split up into smaller groups. We each boarded buses to “mystery” wineries–2 in the early afternoon before meeting the larger group at Quintessa for the Grand Napa Tasting, then 1 more in the evening for dinner and more tastings. My bus had a great group of 22 people, and I was fortunate enough to sit next to Sean Sullivan (@WAWineReport) from Washington Wine Reports for the day. Our three hosts were Sterling Vineyards, Storybook Mountain Vineyards, and Lieff Wines, which made for an interesting and exciting day.
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