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.


Speed Tasting #12

2008 Maycas del Limari Reserva Especial Chardonnay. From Chile. From a totally arid area. I haven’t had too much Chardonnay from Chile but I’m seeing it more and more. Can smell the slight oak on the nose with some smoke and cream. Apple and pear. Creamy oak and apples on the palate. Retails for $18-$22. 850 cases distributed to the US. Lots of pear.

Speed Tasting #11

2010 Sivas-Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc. Retails for $14 and 3000 cases produced. This has  green pepper jumping out of the glass. Grass and herbal. Some lemongrass hiding underneath. This is the new venture from Sebastini (throwback to first WBC!). Mix of RRV and Sonoma County grapes. Some melon and more of the pepper on the palate along with the lemon and herbs. Lots and lots and lots of acidity.

Speed Tasting #10

2010 Jefferson Vineyards Pinot Gris. Retails for $19. Some Viognier and Riesling blended. 1100 Cases produced total. Some oak treatment some stainless steel.Quite aromatic, you can easily see the Viognier influence. Some honey notes and pear. Very dry and good acidity. Pretty impressed with today’s VA wines.

Speed Tasting #9

2008 Michael Shaps Viognier. Making under this label since 2000. Pear and flowers. Very light nose, but smells very dry and with good acidity. Very dry and crisp. Lots of pear and peach flavor. Less tropical than I’m used to. Naturally fermented in stainless steel. Made in a custom crush facility. Retail price is $32 and 200 cases produced.

Speed Tasting #8

2008 Tabarrini Adarmando from Italy. Smells like pear and fresh peach. $17-$22 and available across the US. Smells like very fresh fruit. Totally done in stainless steel. This grape has a lot of heft to it. Nice acidity to counter the heft of the grape. Very peachy with some tropical notes. Very interesting grape and I think one to add to my Century Club list!

Speed Tasting #7

2009 Barboursville Viognier. This was the first commercial vineyard in VA. Pineapple, tropical, floral, very aromatic. Total stainless steel fermented, left on the lees for 11 months. Has a nice spicy note on the nose. Honeysuckle and pear on the palate with the spice from the nose following through. A wonderful wine. VA can do great things with Viognier. Retails for $20-$22 and can be found in VA, NY, NC, W.Va and are gearing up to sell across the country.

Speed Tasting #6

Boxwood Rose. A newer VA winery, they grow only red grapes. Today they are pouring 2010 Boxwood Rose. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend, fermented in stainless only. Lime and raspberry on the nose. A little sweeter on the palate, tastes like a little residual sugar. Mostly cherry and raspberry on the palate with a bit of the lime backbone. Retails for $14 with 180 cases produced. The winery produces 2200 cases overall.

Speed Tasting #5

2010 Chateau Morrisette Chambourcin Rose. VA wine. They make about 80K cases overall. Smells like watermelon. Some smoke and spice on the nose. Cherry and raspberry round out the nose for me. Pretty crisp, lime, fresh. Retails for about $14 and is distributed around the mid-Atlantic. One of the oldest wineries in VA!

Speed Tasting #4

2009 Llana Estacado from Texas. Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Riesling, and Muscat Canellini. I’ve never had a Texas wine before. This one smells quite sweet. The Gewruztraminer is very present on the nose with spice, honeysuckle, and pear. THe palate is no where near as sweet as I expected. Very light and bright and on the dry side. It retails for $23 and is distributed in Texas.