There is a distinct disconnect between wine bloggers and the wine industry. I’d like to think that each path will eventually merge, or at least meet up for a glass, but from what I experienced recently at the 2011 North American Wine Bloggers Conference, Charlottesville, VA that meet and greet seems rather unlikely at this particular moment in time. As my brother informed me today though, “you have high hopes teen.” Indeed I do.
I refuse to write a diatribe; long, unbroken paragraphs about what everyone else is writing--lame. Instead, I want to relate my first impressions of events, only because first impressions can be skewed, often quite funny and sometimes downright insulting, but I can always argue, hey, it was just a first impression, don’t take it seriously. Or should we?
First Impressions #WBC11
International Wine Tasting Night: queue Disney World’s, “it’s a small world, after all, it’s a small world after all.” Insert creepy puppets.
Registration and Meet the Sponsors: fantastic, lots of meet and greet or just plain gawking.
JR’s keynote: American wine bloggers suck
Friday Breakout Sessions: hmmm, where’s dinner? I should have stayed w the hubs in the room for a quick shag like he wanted. But noooo, I had to be on time.
Monticello Meet the Winemakers: So earthy…no, that’s body odor. Hey, I’d rather suck in a little ass—it’s more preferable than perfume (this is especially for that gauche blogger at the Tom Work panel Sunday.) And by the way Tom, you were at fault. Perspired profusely, but damn, those winemakers are hardcore. Have to give them credit for not keeling over in the heat. True farmers.
Seriously, hot shrimp and grits? It’s frakking 103 degrees! But that iced tea was kick ass.
The Other 46 Tasting: for reals? Oh, there’s baguette and packaged cheese. Lovely.
Wine Bloggers: cliquish, rude, like to drink, passionate wine writers, weird, lacking tasting etiquette, need a serious wardrobe overhaul…some really cool people.
Virginia Wine Industry’s History, Geology and Business Climate: LOVE Gabriele Rausse. Really, Mr. VAtech guy, Virginia’s geology isn’t related to winemaking? Really? Jesus. David King: tourism!
Local Vineyards: Fantastic! Hospitality went beyond what I was expecting. Pippin Hill was the bomb and Veritas winemaker Andy was a blast! Did you know he was a neurologist?
EA: got a much-needed 20 minute nap, latter half was good.
Cognac: Before dinner? Really? They seemed nice, I felt bad. Rep was trying to speak w a defective audio system while one “blogger” in suspenders had his back to her during her entire speech. Hello, she’s giving away free cognac! Krikey.
Somm emcee: if only he was an MS, then I could say, “hey, it’s kinda funny that the majority of MSs I know, what they lack in height they make up for in ebullience. (we’re both from Jersey, I can say this.)
Meeting the award winners in a panel discussion would have been nice, to learn what they do and how they do it, but no.
Rioja Crawl: the best: Feast! You guys rocked. They normally close at 6pm, but they boogied until way after midnight. True food and wine artisan troopers.
Saturday night “after party”: I brought a magnum of 2004 Chateau Montelena Cab, 1998 Justin Syrah and 2008 A Tribute to Grace Grenache. I opened Justin first, went around pouring and I got to someone who is well-known in the blogging circles and his response, “what is it? Sure.” It was late, he’s older. Bridget, Kitty, Jen—good times!
Random, disembodied first-impressionisms:
Where’s the journalism? And for that matter, where’s the beef? (that’s funny, I’m not a big beef eater.)
The pompousness polluted the air, but again, just glad it wasn’t perfume.
Couldn’t we have had serious glasses?
Wine bloggers blogging is like my telling you I stubbed my toe. (no, seriously, I stubbed my toe.)
Tweeting at the conference seemed surreal, as though I was transported back to grammar school and we’re passing notes about Johnny and doesn’t his hair look so absolutely dreamy today. But whatever, I’ve never been overly verbose.
Do you spit, or swallow?
The wine industry is incredibly small, whether you’re in it or writing about it. I appreciated every wine rep and winemaker who attended. That cost them money, just like it cost me. It’s tough to pour your life’s work for people who aren’t spitting. There was a lot of wine at this conference and only a handful of folks were spitting.
There were several bloggers who reached out and made efforts to truly make my experience worthwhile—thank you, you know who you are. Let’s put all my bitching into context: first impressions only. And at the end of the day, it was MY choice to attend, MY responsibility to reach out. And if I didn’t get what I wanted, it is MY fault. But I think I have a better understanding of how to make it better for me: without a doubt, reach out to folks before the conference, arrange lunch or coffee. And by all means, say hello to as many people as possible. No one will remember you if you don’t take that first step, you know, make an impression—Find your Voice!
PS Scop: There should be a caption on future badges that says something like: I’m a wbc newbie, please for the love of wine, someone talk to me before I bust some caps in all your asses. Something like that.