For those readers who do not know me, I am new to serious wine tasting (2008) and was introduced to wine by way of my employers: a winery, a wine broker, and a wine importer. In my real life, I’m a college professor, travel professional, and Avon lady. Along my journey, I’ve discovered that I want to share my enthusiasm about and love of wine, travel, and wine-related travel, so I created this blog to offer my perspective.
My immediate impression of the conference was that wine bloggers are not only serious about wine, they are the early adopters in the world of technology, connectivity, and social media. This was actually a relief to me, because my family, friends, and colleagues tell me I am “online too much” and “too connected.” However, I discovered that I am a lightweight in comparison to the bloggers at this conference, and found myself in awe of those who could balance a portable electronic device and a glass of wine in one hand. Everyone I saw had at least one device with them and out at all times, some even had two. Luckily the tables at the sessions were equipped with power strips. Wine bloggers are indeed experts at living in and capturing the moment to share with the world, which is why they are important contributors to the world of wine.
The keynote speakers, wine writers Jancis Robinson and Eric Asimov, while different in their style and experience, did offer similar messages to us: to conduct your own research, be accurate and thorough, and offer one’s readers a wine experience that is not solely based on academic reviews and scores. What I learned is that one’s writing should be geared to consumers, not the wine industry, and written in a way that allows the reader to experience and feel what the writer is experiencing and feeling at that moment. Wine writers should also find their niche and engage their readers with their unique perspective.
My favorite breakout session was “Online Technologies and Wine,” because the panel engaged the audience with their own debates about the importance (or not), impact, and future of flash sale/private member wine sites and the relevance (or not) of Google+. From my perspective, the panelists were “preaching to the choir,” as most of the attendees were already knowledgeable about the technologies and topics discussed. Again, wine bloggers are ahead of the game, and wine enthusiasts and the industry should pay attention.
My favorite sessions of the conference were the two live blogging tastings, one of whites and rosés, the second of reds, where we tasted and posted about 12 wines in 60 minutes. These sessions were like a crash course in wine tasting. I am very much a beginner, but I learned in these sessions that wine tasting is subjective to each individual at that moment in time. While each grape or blend does have general characteristics, it’s important to realize that wine tasting is a unique, momentary, individual impression.
My only disappointment from the conference was the visit to Monticello. I had never been to Monticello and had been looking forward to the visit and the possibility of tasting wines from 32 Virginia wineries. However, in spite of the excessive heat warnings, the event was still held outdoors. The heat and humidity were more than my body could take. I tasted one wine and spent the rest of the two hours sitting at a table, wiping sweat and fanning myself with a cardboard fan, only getting up for food, water, and iced tea. The next morning I woke up with heat exhaustion and was unable to go on the winery tours.
Most importantly, I learned that wine bloggers are friendly, caring, and social, both online and offline. They love to share, talk, taste, and experience wine, food, and life to the fullest, and by every medium offered to them. I will never forget the networking, collegiality, and genuine friendship I experienced, and I consider myself lucky to be a part of the Wine Bloggers’ Conference Class of 2011.