Wine Bloggers Conference Saturday Recap

Saturday marked day three of the 2017 Wine Bloggers Conference. As promised, here’s a brief recap of the sessions and events of the day.

The early morning session was one that all bloggers, no matter how large or small their following, could find tremendous benefits. Led by Charlotte Chipperfield (founder and CEO of Chipperfield Media and a true social media expert), gave a super informative presentation that focused on boosting social media engagement and some creative way to funnel traffic to individual blogs (including a clever and savvy idea to use video as an enticement for your readers to click over and learn more). Special holiday ideas for blogging were also discussed as well as branding, photography, legal issues, and some no-nos to avoid in the world of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. According to Chipperfield, the single most important social media platform for bloggers is Facebook because of its 1.2 billion daily users.

Early afternoon brought a fantastic wine discovery session, an educational exploration of Alsace’s Pinot Gris styles. I’m new to the party when it comes to Pinot Gris (which uses the same grape as the lighter-bodied Pinto Grigio) so I soaked up the information presented here like a sponge and I took more notes during this session than any other. Cassidy Havens from Wines of Alsace led the nearly full room through the history of France’s gorgeous Pinot Gris wines. Attendees tasted three distinct styles from the region that ranged from dry and aromatic to off-dry and full bodied, to lusciously sweet. Check out my blog post on this session, The Complex Pinot Gris Wines of Alsace, for more in-depth info.

The late afternoon sessions were a bit difficult to sit through as they featured a panel of locals who lived through the devastating wildfires in Sonoma, Santa Rosa, and Napa sharing their stories of survival. The panel at the first session, titled Napa Valley Fires, included George Rose (photographer), Pierre Bierbent (winemaker at Signorello Estates, a winery that was damaged in the fires), Patsy McGaughy (Communications Director at Napa Valley Vintners), and Jolaine Collins (panel moderator). This was a tough session and many of the people in the room had tears in their eyes.

Next up was How the Media Can Respond to a Crisis, a useful seminar to hone in on how writers and reporters can use their skills to help communities when disaster strikes. This panel featured several writers who were instrumental in getting updated, breaking news out to the public via Twitter and social media, including journalist Sarah Stierch (who received a standing ovation from the room for her on-the-fly reporting during the fires). As Stierch put it, because of the fires “we all have PTSD up here, we’re all screwed up.” It was again reiterated that the best way for people to help is to visit the region and buy California wines.

The end of the day brought an hour for Live Red Wine Blogging, a follow-up to Friday’s Live White Wine Blogging. This event is one of the highlights of the Conference for many, and now that I’ve done survived two of the live blogging events I can see why! This speed dating for wine tasting is so addictive and so fun that the adrenaline rush starts as soon as the countdown begins! Roughly 30 tables of eight bloggers each sit and ask questions and type out Tweets or other social media posts as winemakers and wine reps rotate around the room in 5 minute increments. Check out my separate post that compiles all of my live Tweets that share my impressions of each wine. It was challenging, but I “got the hang of it” in this session.

The annual banquet and dinner was sponsored by NakedWines.com this year. NakedWines.com has a cool concept where people can fund small winemakers up-front. Users deposit $40 a month into their online accounts and the funds can be used to order wine or, as the money builds up, it’s being invested in indie winemakers all around the world. Such a cool concept and after the assortment of wines we were served at the dinner, I can attest that the quality is outstanding.

And about that dinner — the menu included a wild field greens with goat cheese salad, roasted chicken with proscuitto, and an apple tartin for dessert. The wine was free flowing as well. Not only did we have six different bottles of wine on our table (whites and red of varying varietals), there were nearly a dozen different wines to try. All of the wines served were super small production lot wines from NakedWines.com’s arsenal of independent winemakers.

My favorite wine of the night was a fragrant, crisp, and sweet beauty, the G. Stepp Pinot Blanc from winemaker Gerd Stepp. This wine sells for an astounding $13 per bottle but drinks like one of the high double-digit priced big boys. I helped myself to a couple of glasses of this tasty and exotic Pinot Blanc.

The evening ended with an exciting announcement that the WBC 2018 will be held in…drumroll, please…Walla Walla, Washington. Cheers and whoops filled the room after the announcement was made, and the fun continued with an unofficial after party in the lobby that raged until 3 a.m.

This was my very first WBC but I’m going to register for 2018 next week. See you there!

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