Buzz Buzz Buzz

Here comes the honey.

*Disclaimer: I paid a reduced rate to go on the Wine Blogger Conference Pre-Excursion in exchange for agreeing to write a post about my experience.

Is that a bee I hear? On the excursion I took to Kelowna, BC prior to heading to the 6th annual Wine Blogger Conference in Penticton, BC, I had the chance to watch bee-keeping in action. And taste the fruits (honey?) of the bees’ labor. Did you know that each honeybee produces only a little over a tablespoon of honey in its life span?

Buzzzzzzzzz!

While visiting Tantalus Vineyards, we were treated to a demonstration by Helen owner and chief bee-keeper of Arlo’s Honey Farm.  Helen pulled a frame from one of the beehives to show us the bees in action, softly brushed the bees off the frame, and presented it to us to dig in and taste the fresh honey. I had no idea that honey’s taste could change based on the crops they collect nectar from, though it makes complete sense to me now that I’ve actually thought about it.

Get in my belly.

Helen keeps hives on her own property and at Tantalus and keeps the Tantalus honey separate for the winery.  I tasted the honey from the hives in the patch of wildflowers, and it was delicious. I’ve long known that eating honey produced locally to your residence is supposed to help with allergies, however, I did not know that honey can help cleanse your liver and helps you out if you are prone to hangovers if you eat a bit when drinking. I’m a big fan of honey as a treatment for sore throats and always remember my mom putting honey in our tea as kids, which I still do today. All in all, I found the demonstration fascinating and loved learning about bee keeping. Remember to be kind to any honeybees you see, they play an incredibly important role!

I hate to display my ignorance here, but I can’t figure out how to embed this video I took of Helen during her demonstration, but I’ll link it below if you’d like to watch. Or if you’d like to help of the technologically disinclined, I’d be grateful.

Helen’s Beekeeping Demonstration

Impressions from the 2013 Wine Blogger Conference

Back from my 5th Wine Blogger Conference, held this year in Pentiction, BC, I find myself again inclined to ruminate on what I learned, saw, drank, ate, etc., while spending 4 days in a new-to-me wine region.  Simply because I am tired of repeating myself, please see, in particular, #s 4, 8, and 10 from last’s year’s retrospective on the conference.  Those items still stand for me as takeaways from this conference. And every other WBC I’ve attended.  Despite some of those complaints (and positives), I will be back to attend the 7th annual WBC in Santa Barbara next July.

1.) I no longer look like my picture. After 6 years, this is the first time not a soul made that comment to me. So either I’ve changed quite a bit (possible since I have brown curly hair now…) and I need to update my photo or I’m simply not as present on social media as I used to be. My best guess is a combination of the two. I vow to be better about both things, updating the photo and being more active on Twitter.

View from Summerhill Winery

2.) We could not have asked for a more picturesque place to hold the conference. The Okanagan Valley is simply stunning. Not to mention, the weather cooperated beautifully and the days were sunny, breezy and delightful. I stayed in two locations while in the area, Kelowna and Pentiction. While I can’t choose a favorite, each had its strengths. I’d highly recommend the Manteo Resort in Kelowna for families. I stayed in  a “villa” on the property (basically a townhouse) that had a full living area, separate full kitchen, laundry facilities, 2.5 baths, and 2 bedrooms. The resort offered water sports, pools, playgrounds, a fantastic restaurant, and proximity to many vineyards. At Penticton Lake Resort, I’d think singles or couples would find it more appealing. While still offering water sports, a pool, and proximity to vineyards, it had multiple restaurants, bars, a club, a casino, and more typical hotel style rooms. Both beautiful properties, I’d happily return to either.

3.) That said, a major bummer of the conference turned out to be the inability to bring wine home and being unable to get the wines in the States. You pretty much have to go to BC to taste and drink BC wines. I took home the legal number of bottles (without having to pay extra duty, that’s 2) so I’m pleased to have two (plus 2 others I paid duty on) of my favorites to taste with Mr. Wannabe Wino, I’m disappointed to not be able to get anything else I tasted.

Bee-keeping at Tantalus Vineyards

4.) If you make it to the area, check out Tantalus Vineyards. Hands down my favorite stop of the trip, both for the food, the wine, and the experience. I have a nifty video of the bee keeping demonstration we were treated to ready to post when I figure out how to do so. Two of the wines I brought home, I purchased at Tantalus, including an interesting sparkling brut riesling.

5.) The smaller nature of this year’s conference truly appealed to me. It reminded me more of the first 2 years of the conference. I had time to talk to people. We had many events together. It was more intimate. I made new friends this year. I fully understand the conference is a business, however, at the end of the day, it needs to remain appealing and useful to those who attend. When attendance is almost double what it was this year, that gets lost.

6.) Wines of Uruguay! Wines of Uruguay! Wines of Uruguay! Get them any way you can. Even if you have to mud wrestle an Uruguayan for them since they drink most of the wine they produce. Especially the Albariño from Bouza. Stunning wine.

7.) The conference was over-scheduled. Again, I understand that this is a money-making venture. I also understand that I am in no way obligated to attend every event. However, having scheduled events running until 11 pm every night is just too much. Some people actually want to go to bed earlier than that and may miss out on something they’d really like to attend simply by virtue of the fact that they don’t want to be exhausted for the next day of the conference. This particularly struck me on Friday, when we went on our excursion and then were bused immediately to an event over an hour from the hotel with no option to return to the hotel without attending, then had to await buses to take us back. I was wet (more on this later), exhausted, and wanted to leave, but didn’t end up being able to get on a bus home until 10:30 and didn’t arrive back to the hotel until almost midnight. The event the next morning started at 7:15. That’s not enough sleep.

8.) Since I’m recommending wines, here’s one from another region that caught my attention: the 2010 Kacaba Reserve Cabernet Franc.  If you ever get to the Niagra wine region, you should most definitely look Kacaba up. Worth it alone for the Cabernet Franc.

Brodo Kitchen’s chef makes us eggs in the park

9.) A small list of places to eat for sure if you make it to either Kelowna or Penticton: Waterfront Wines (holy cow can that man make a gourmet waffle and poach an egg), Smack Dab (the focus on local beers, with at least 15 on tap, totally won me over), Brodo Kitchen (in Penticton, no website, but they had fresh strawberry juice that rocked my socks), The Cupcake Lady Cafe (don’t be fooled by the name, the breakfast crepes were drool-worthy), The White Apron (fresh made ham and cheese croissants, think pain au chocolat but with ham and cheese), and Hooded Merganser (duck breast poutine, need I say more?).

10.) Go visit Craig Camp at Cornerstone Cellars. I know I’ve said it before, but he’s sincerely one of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve ever had the pleasure of associating with, and his wines are damn good.

Canada here I come!

To the say the least, it’s been a hectic summer around the Wannabe Wino house. And it’s not even summer yet.

With that said, I am Penticton, BC bound this Wednesday.  I will be attending the 6th annual Wine Blogger Conference (my 5th Wine Blogger Conference) with around 200 fellow wine bloggers and industry folks.  We will traipsing all over the Okanagan Valley, tasting wines and learning about the local industry.  I’m excited to see friends old and new and to have the opportunity to dig deep into this emerging wine region.

I’ll likely be blogging away, especially during the live tastings, so look for lots of info coming your way on the wines of British Columbia!

 

Invading Carlton, OR

Post Wine Blogger Conference this year, Mrs. Wannabe Wino and I received a kind invitation from the town of Carlton, OR to visit.  Yes, that’s correct, a town invited us to come and stay and see what their little corner of OR had to offer.  For a quaint, small town, they certainly had a lot to offer and put on the ritz to really show us the best of their town.

While there,the Wannabe Winos stayed at the Carlton Inn, a lovely B&B about a five minute walk from the center of the town.  Although the Inn itself has been in existence for many years, it was only taken over by the current Innkeeper Karen Choules shortly before our arrival in August 2012.  Poor Karen, I’m sure she had no idea what she was in for when she took over an Inn and was shortly thereafter informed she would be playing hostess to a group of 5 wine bloggers for a night!  Taking it all in stride, Karen was a gracious hostess, and made us feel right at home.  We stayed in the Yamhill-Carlton Suite, a comfortable set of rooms decorated in a contemporary American style.  (I, for one, slept like a bear hibernating in winter in these cozy quarters.)

The Carlton Inn boasts 4 guest rooms, so with 5 wine bloggers, we took over the entire place.  One room had a jetted tub that Thea took full advantage of during our stay.  In addition to the well-appointed rooms, the Inn boasts a quaint living room, a spacious dining room, and a comfortable porch overlooking a garden that Karen uses for ingredients for her breakfast. The breakfast was excellent, as you can see in the photos.  We had a french toast bake with berries, fresh fruit, and bacon.  We all came away stuffed, and Karen indulged the wine blogger love of bacon and was happy to add some local farmed bacon to our breakfast!

Overall, we highly recommend the Carlton Inn to anyone looking to explore the area’s wineries or spend some time in a welcoming, adorable town.  Tell Karen hello for us!

(Post authored by Sonadora and Mr. WannabeWino.)

2013 Wine Blogger Conference

I realize the 2012 Conference JUST ended and I’ve barely written up anything yet for you, but I want to talk about next year.  I just registered for the 2013 WBC in Penticton, BC!  I’m super excited and hope you will all join me there.  Newbie, experienced blogger, winery rep, pr folk, importers, etc., everyone has a place at WBC.

We’re already working on raising funds to help other wine bloggers attend, so if you are so inclined, (and with year end approaching, your donation may be tax deductible) please make a contribution to the WBC Scholarship Fund!  Thea and I were hard at work cajoling our fellow attendees at the 2012 conference to buy ribbons, which always helps raise some much needed moola.  We will definitely need your help to make it happen though!

Canada should be great! I’ve never been wine tasting in Canada and have only tried a handful of wine from the country, and even fewer from the Okanagan Valley.

(Image borrowed from Palate Press)

However, with views like this, how can I go wrong?  Hope to see you there!

What I learned at the 2012 Wine Blogger Conference

I just got back from Portland, OR, where Mr. WannabeWino and attended the 5th annual Wine Blogger Conference. I’ve been to 4 out of 5 and I’ve learned (maybe?) something at each conference. Some of those lessons continue to repeat themselves (sadly…) and others are new. Here, I present to you a brief overview of what I learned at the 2012 WBC. Overall, Oregon rocked for wine. I wish I could have stayed longer and tasted more. However, I brought home/ordered to be shipped around 4 cases of wine, so I will enjoy the wine treasures for months to come. Without further ado, my top ten “lessons” from WBC 12.

Mr. Wannabe Wino and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary at the Jordan Vineyards Magnum party.

1.) I still look like my picture, but clearly not as much as I used to since I only got that comment a half dozen times this year.

2.) I love Pinot from Oregon. But I still needed a beer or something to cleanse my palate at the end of the day.

(Image courtesy of The Barley Blog)

3.) I feel like a grandmother of wine blogging even though I’ve only been at it just shy of 6 years. I think the oldest wine blog is only 8 years old though, so the grandfathers aren’t much older.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.) With that said, this is my 4th WBC, and I still have zero interest in monetization.  That horse is dead. Can we please, please, please bury it?

(Image courtesy of Mutineer Magazine)

5.) You should be yourself at all times, unless yourself involves writing wine reviews, then you should be someone else because wine reviews are boring. (Sarcasm font enabled here in case you couldn’t tell.)

 

 

 

 

 

6.) The folks of Carlton, OR have an awesome little town on their hands on and they really banded together to put it all on for the bloggers. I was seriously impressed. (More on this later.)

7.) King Estate KICKED serious ass for the main night dinner.

8.) I need more girl friends where I live. I am so, so missing Thea, Mary, Melanie, Liza, Debbie, etc.  I just can’t explain the value of like minded women who will swig out of a bottle, rap to Vanilla Ice, and make wee jokes with you. It’s pretty priceless.

9.) I can taste and fairly evaluate about 40 wines in a day. Max.

10.) I still hate the Wine Blog Awards.

Send a Wine Blogger to Wine Camp!

This year, the 5th iteration of the Wine Blogger Conference will occur in Portland, Oregon August 17-19. The Wine Blogger Conference helps wine bloggers hone their craft, connect with other bloggers and industry folk, and experience a wine region they may not have previously had the opportunity to visit up close and personal.

The darling Thea Dwelle, Chief Cat Herder Extraordinaire, Master of Bling, and all around nice person has once again organized the Wine Blogger Scholarship.  Conceived after the 2008 Conference when we realized that some of our fellow bloggers could not shoulder the cost of everything associated with the conference, Thea has been zealously pursuing donations for this year’s Conference.

Donations are made through Enobytes, a 501(c) non profit organization. Therefore, any donation may be tax deductible. (Please consult your tax professional for advice on charitable contributions and the associated rules governing them in the Internal Revenue Code to determine your eligibility to take a deduction.)

I’ve donated and am on this year’s Scholarship Committee. Please take a moment and consider making a donation: DONATE NOW!

Take Aways from the 2011 Wine Blogger Conference

1.) I look just like my picture. I started attending the Wine Blogger Conference during its very first year in Sonoma. I missed Walla Walla, but otherwise I have attended all other years. After 4 years, the most common thing people say to me upon meeting me for the first time is “You look just like your picture.” Next year I’ve decided I’ll wear a badge that says “Yes. I look just like my picture.”

2.) Virginia wine has come a long way since I moved here 8 years ago. However, I am still convinced that Viognier and Cabernet Franc are what VA does best, though my experience this weekend has started to sway me towards the belief that Petit Verdot has enormous possibilities here as well. I tasted an absolutely brilliant one (2005 Reserve) from Jefferson Vineyards, though with only 7 cases left, they aren’t selling it! Also, the just released 2010 Viognier from Breaux Vineyards is well worth your time to check out.

3.) Charlottesville is an adorable place that I need to return to when my life slows down a bit. I shared a lovely dinner at Tavola with Jason, Thea, and Craig and I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Charlottesville. Also, check out Brookville Restaurant, where they have an appreciation for bacon, pork belly, and all other pig products that rang true with me!

4.) The conference, while always entertaining and a great place to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones, will never regain the magic that it held for me that first time at the Flamingo in Sonoma. Which brings me to…

5.) I missed the people who I was used to seeing at these conferences and it made a big difference for me. So Tim, Shana, Jeff, Randy, Russ, Patrick, Michael (too many others to mention)….I was thinking of you and missing you and wishing you were there with us.

6.) If the Pinot Noir I tasted during the speed tasting on day 2 from King Estate is any indication of the wines we will get to sample at the 2012 conference in Oregon, we are all in for a mighty treat.

7.) I have some thinking to do about what I want to do with my blog going forward. I’m certainly not the oldest wine blogger around, I believe that honor might belong to Alder over at Vinography, but I am going on 5 years here at Wannabe Wino. I’ve mostly settled into a format that works for me at this point, but I’m pondering the viability of the blog as it is. More on this another day when I’m not so sleep deprived.

8.) Wine people, regardless of the region, remain among some of the friendliest and most welcoming people I’ve ever had the pleasure to hold company with. Perhaps it’s simply all the wine we drink, but I’m fairly certain it’s more than that, to the core of the type of person that is drawn to the love of wine to the extent of becoming a part of the larger wine community.

9.) Jancis Robinson, was utterly charming and made some excellent points in her key note speech. I was honored that she accepted the invitation to come speak at the conference and would relish the opportunity to hear her again in the future.

10.) The nature of these events leaves little time for meaningful conversations and connections. But it is a start to what can become meaningful conversations and connections. So don’t let the pile of business cards you collected gather dust. Make sure to follow up with the folks you found particularly interesting and build on the fleeting moments you spent with the person at the conference. I’ve made some incredibly good and lasting friendships by doing so over the years.

Link up to WBC Round Ups.

Leaving on a

jet plane train boat, er, car that is. This year’s Wine Blogger Conference is actually in my backyard, in Charlottesville, VA, so I can take my own wheels! Does wonders for the cost of attending considering the last 3 years have found the bloggers migrating to the west coast. Which for me involves planes and car rentals and airport parking…

I’ll be trying to do a bit of a mix this year with some live reporting on the spot and take home posts as well. I’m hoping that the conference will help to show the wide world of wine bloggers what VA has to offer! With this heat though, bring on the Viognier!

I Dream of Pinot

Chris gets animated in the garden

Chris gets animated in the garden

After the Wine Blogger Conference, Thea, Ashley, & I did a whirlwind tour of Sonoma and Napa.  And I really do mean whirlwind….on one day we did both Sonoma and Napa in the same day and STILL managed to stop by to see Patrick and Genevieve and their adorable new son.  Our first stop after lunch was a must visit for me after I learned of this winery at last year’s WBC. Oh, and by the way, I still adore those glasses and am now the proud owner of my own pair…you might have seen them popping in pictures over the last 8 months or so! I’m talking about C. Donatiello Winery.  If you haven’t been here before, go! Not only are the wines great, but the grounds are worth a trip on their own.  I wrote last year all about the aroma garden, which we toured again this year. I found it interesting to see it 3 months earlier in the year since so many different things were in season….I even got to eat some fresh raspberries right off the bush.

I like trees.

I like trees.

However, before touring the facilities (still the CLEANEST winery facilities I have ever, ever visited) we got to sit down for a private tasting with Chris Donatiello.  Chris is one of the most animated people I’ve ever seen when he’s talking about his wines.  It’s hard not to catch his enthusiasm as he talks about his winery and winemaking and everything else that goes on at the estate.  I think Thea and I may have been the only repeat visitors from last year’s blogger visit to C. Donatiello, but we were happy to spread the word to all our new friends and bring them along with us!

And grapes.

And grapes.

2008 Russian River Valley 809 Clone Chardonnay: $32. Lemon, pear, apple, fairly crisp, nice fruit, lemon, citrus, nice acidity, spice, stone, peach.

2006 Russian River Valley Chardonnay: $28. Spice, little bit of wood, cream, apple, golden apple, little chewy, nice fruit, round, spice.

And flowers.

And flowers. Which I swear smelled like chocolate.

2007 Orsi Vineyard Chardonnay: $38. Cream, much rounder, oak, tropical, green apple, tart pear.

2006 Russian River Pinot Noir: $48. Cherry, spice, herbs, raspberry, tart, cranberry, spice, tannins, little pepper.

Thea gets friendly with celebrity wino Hardy Wallace

Thea gets friendly with celebrity wino Hardy Wallace

2007 Maddie’s Vineyard Pinot Noir: $62. Strawberry, violets, tobacco leaf, raspberry, roses, tart red fruit, refined. I bought a bottle to add to my 2006 Maddie’s…I hope to amass a vertical and share them with some very lucky winos in about 5 years :)

2007 Floodgate Block 15 Pinot Noir: $55. Black cherry, pepper, spice, raspberry, fruit forward, spice, on the finish, red fruit, tannic.

Even Twitter celebrity Wine Dog made an appearance!

Even Twitter celebrity Wine Dog made an appearance!

I highly recommend a visit to C. Donatiello next time you are in the Russian River Valley area. Make sure you leave some extra time to enjoy the beautiful grounds, and don’t be afraid to taste and smell things from the aroma garden…that’s why it’s there!

Shana, Ashley, Thea, & I pose in the vines.

Shana, Ashley, Thea, & I pose in the vines.

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