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 #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 #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 #3

2008 Afton Mountain Tete De Cuvee Brut. A VA sparkling! You don’t see that very often, so very cool to be able to taste this. It’s not yet released. Retail will be $30 when released. Family has owned the winery since 2009. Apple pie, cinnamon, spice, yeasty. Only 200 cases produced. Great spice on the finish to carry through the slightly sweet note on the finish.

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!

Drinking Local (Once Again)

With the 2011 Wine Blogger Conference just around the corner, and it being in my own back yard, I thought it high time I bring out some of the VA wines that I have in my cellar and get you all excited for what you have to look forward to out here on the East Coast! One of my favorite VA wineries is Rappahannock Cellars. They are doing excellent things with both Cabernet Franc and Viognier, two of the wines that VA does best in my humble opinion. Tonight we opened up the 2007 Rappahannock Cellars Cabernet Franc, a wine I purchased in Sept. 09 on my last visit out there. It clocked in at 13.8% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and I can’t recall what I paid, but it retailed for around $25 I believe.

On the nose I found strawberry, raspberry, earth, forest, chocolate, chocolate syrup notes, herbs, and spice. Yum. The nose certainly made me look forward to tasting the wine.  In the mouth I got raspberry, fresh strawberry, earth, and a good herbal note. The wine had great structure and acidity and is an excellent example of what VA can do with this grape.

Virginia Viognier

Last fall Matt and I had a chance to go out to VA wine country and visit Rappahannock Cellars. While there, we of course had to buy some of our favorite wines to enjoy later. What kind of winos would we be if we didn’t?? One of my favorite wines that I’m seeing coming from Virgina is Viognier. VA wineries are doing really great things with the grape and I continue to be impressed with what I’m tasting. Tonight we pulled out the 2008 Rappahannock Cellars Viognier that we purchased at the vineyard. It had a Diam closure, clocked in at 13.6% alcohol by volume, and cost me about $22.

On the nose I found honeysuckle, flowers, tropical fruits, pineapple, candied pineapple, pear, and a hint of cream. The aromatic nose drew me in. I love the nose on Viognier. In the mouth I got tons of pineapple, including candied pineapple and pineapple jello. I also found pear, spice, flowers, and tropical notes. The Rappahannock Viognier is by far one of my favorites that I’ve tasted from the state. I highly suggest you check out what VA is doing with Viognier, it would be well worth your time and effort.