Highlights from the 2009 Wine Bloggers Conference

By Kori ~ July 31st, 2009.

Live Wine BloggingThis past weekend, Dad (John), Colby, and I spent three jam-packed days in Sonoma and Napa County, California, for the second annual North American Wine Bloggers Conference. We were joined by over 275 fellow wine bloggers, wine industry participants, and media members for tastings, keynote addresses, breakout sessions, vineyard walks, and winery visits.

Unfortunately, the conference got off to a slow start on Friday afternoon when the host hotel in Santa Rosa suffered from major Wi-Fi issues which caused the postponement of the Live Wine Blogging segment that was supposed to kick off the festivities. With a quick juggle of the schedule, Tom Wark presented the 2009 American Wine Blog Awards while they worked to get the Wi-Fi up and running. We were able to finally have the Live Wine Blogging segment which featured wines poured for us by the winemakers themselves in a fast and furious “speed dating”-like format.

Chris Alden of Six ApartLater that evening, we enjoyed a grand tasting of Sonoma wines out by the pool followed by dinner with Chris Alden of Six Apart as the keynote speaker. He referred to Blogging 2.0 as “social publishing” in which blogging and social networking are inextricably intertwined. (So if you aren’t already, please follow/fan us on Twitter and Facebook.)

On Saturday, we hopped into buses and headed for the Napa Valley. We enjoyed keynote addresses by Barry Schuler, former CEO of AOL, and Jim Gordon, editor of Wines & Vines, at the Culinary Institute of America. Then we split up and each bus went to its assigned wineries for Napa Green presentations, vintner discussion panels, and dinner, only coming back together for a grand tasting of Napa wines in the afternoon. Our day in Napa was worth the price of the conference admission alone, and I’ll be devoting a post next week to our day in Napa and later doing a spotlight on one of the wineries we visited.

Sunday morning featured breakout sessions on a variety of topics. I won’t bore you with the details but we found the sessions very interesting and informative. We hope to incorporate some of the suggestions and ideas we formulated during these sessions to make Wine Peeps even better.

Table setting for lunch at Dry Creek VineyardThe conference officially ended at noon on Sunday but we took advantage of the optional lunch and vineyard walk since we had had such a wonderful experience on our vineyard walk last year. It was a gorgeous, sunny afternoon and we enjoyed a lovely lunch on the lawn at Dry Creek Vineyard in the Dry Creek Valley. From there, we boarded buses bound for three different vineyard walk venues. We chose to visit Montemaggiore, a winery that specializes in Syrah and is very proud of their biodynamic vineyard. The sun was scorching down on us so we took an abbreviated vineyard walk and sought shade wherever we could find it.

While I enjoyed all of the keynotes, sessions, events, and tastings, the best part of the conference was getting to meet so many of our fellow wine bloggers in person and see some friends we had made at last year’s conference.

Vineyard Walk at MontemaggioreMany thanks to Allan Wright of Zephyr Wine Adventures and Joel Vincent of the OpenWine Consortium for organizing this wonderful conference and to all of the sponsors for your support in making it a reality.

We are already looking forward to next year’s conference. I am thrilled that our home state of Washington will be hosting the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla next June. We have had two great years in northern California, but I can’t wait for our fellow wine bloggers to see our great state and get to experience Washington wines firsthand. There’s nothing like walking the vineyards, visiting the wineries, and talking with winemakers to truly enjoy the complete wine experience.

Here’s a breakdown of the Sonoma wines that we tasted at the Wine Bloggers Conference, except those that we already rated during the Live Wine Blogging segment. Under each Quality heading, the wine name and region will be listed along with price and QPR rating. Wines in bold type received a QPR rating of 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5).

Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
2007 Rodney Strong Knotty Vines Zinfandel, Sonoma County, $20, QPR: 5
2007 Seghesio Barbera, Alexander Valley, $27, QPR: 4
2007 Gustafson Petite Sirah Dry Creek Mountain Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, $32, QPR: 4
2005 Rockaway [Rodney Strong] Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, $75, QPR: 4
2005 Montemaggiore Nobile Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah, Dry Creek Valley, $45, QPR: 3

Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
2007 Teresina Zinfandel MacLeod Family Vineyard, Sonoma Valley, $24, QPR: 4
2005 Rued Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, $25, QPR: 4
2007 Thomas George Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, $28, QPR: 4
2006 Dry Creek Vineyard Beeson Ranch Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, $34, QPR: 3
2006 Sapphire Hill Winberrie Vineyard Zinfandel, Russian River Valley, $34, QPR: 3
2005 Montemaggiore Paolo’s Vineyard Syrah, Dry Creek Valley, $35, QPR: 3
2005 Rued Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Valley, $45, QPR: 3
2007 Viansa Prindelo Red Wine, Sonoma County, $35, QPR: 2

Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
2008 Dry Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Creek Valley, $16, QPR: 2
2008 Schug Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County, $18, QPR: 2
2008 Gustafson Rosé of Syrah Dry Creek Mountain Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, $20, QPR: 1
2007 Paul Hobbs Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, $45, QPR: 1
2007 Sojourn Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, $48, QPR: 1
2003 Garden Creek Tesserae Red Wine, Alexander Valley, $70, QPR: 1
2006 Ty Caton Tytanium Red Wine Caton Vineyard, Sonoma Valley, $75, QPR: 1

Quality: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
2007 Eric Ross Pinot Noir Saralee’s Vineyard, Russian River Valley, $38, QPR: NR
2005 Skipstone Oliver’s Blend Red Wine, Alexander Valley, $90, QPR: NR

Filed under: American Wine, Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, California Wine, Chardonnay, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir, Red Wine, Rose Wine, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz/Syrah, White Wine, Wine Activities/Events, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25, Zinfandel

Reader's Comments

  1. Frank Morgan | August 3rd, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Excellent recap! It was great meeting you guys at WBC. I look forward to learning more about your home state wines in Walla Walla next year. I’ll be back in Seattle in a couple of weeks, so I’ll be visiting a few more wineries in the Woodinville area.

  2. Shari | August 3rd, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Great recap Kori. It was great meeting all of you over the weekend. I can’t wait until Washington and Walla Walla shows everyone what we can do! Hope to see you guys next year.

  3. Kori | August 3rd, 2009 at 10:28 am

    Thanks! Great to meet you too. I look forward to seeing you in Walla Walla next year. I’d love to hear your thoughts on your Woodinville winery visits. Safe travels!

    It was a pleasure to meet you at WBC. I’m excited about showing off Washington State and its wines in Walla Walla next year too. See you then, if not before. Cheers!

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