Ahhh, family reunions. You have the cool relatives that you haven’t seen in a while that you just love hanging with, then there are the weird stand offish people that you wonder, “Am I really related to these people.” Of course at every family reunion there is drama, the embarrassing moments and you can never escape the crazy drunk uncle that just takes things a little too far. The 2012 Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland, OR was this year’s family reunion for me.
This is my third year attending the conference. My favorite part is the reunion with old friends. I’ve shared the birth of my businesses, my personal struggles, and all the success with a handful of people I’ve met at the Wine Bloggers Conference. I love cheering for friends like Lisa Mattson, who recently won “Winery Wine Blog” for Jordan Winery or Joe Roberts of 1WineDude (previous Wine Blog of the Year winner) and rejoicing in the success of friends like Ed Thralls and William Allen who have both recently launched their own wine brands. My list of family (including the crazy drunk uncle to remain nameless) could go on and on. This year, there were even some “relatives” that I had never met before that I am now happy I know.
MEMORABLE WBC12 MOMENTS
10. Willakenzie Winery Hospitality
Our bus was fortunate to be shuttled to Willakenzie Winery where 5 wineries educated and spoiled us with their hospitality and Pinot Noir. While the warm conditions might not have been ideal for tasting wine, the wineries in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA – Willakenzie Estate, Penner-Ash, Elk Cove Vineyards, Solena Estate and (shoot I forget the fifth one) provided a top notch experience of Oregon terroir, winemaking and passion.
9. Speed Wine Blogging
As fast and furious as this adventure of tasting and tweeting about 10 wines in a 50 minute period can be, it is one of my favorite experiences of each conference. I love being introduced to something new and, of course, being surprised by wines like the Winderlea Pinot Noir or the Alexana Pinot Gris. Both were the best wines of their session respectively.
8. Night of Many Bottles
Imagine 300 people all bringing 1-3 of their favorite wines to share! UGH, I passed on some crazy good stuff just to keep trying other crazy good stuff. I had wine from Georgia, Idaho, Colorado and more. The night was a frenzy of wine tasting. Luckily I kept drinking a full glass of water between tastings. The wine of the night (because it was unique and memorable) was a Pinot Noir from Virginia (Ankita Ridge)…go figure.
7. Pinot Noir Clone Tasting
This incredibly informative break out session by Erath Vineyards showed the vast difference between various Pinot Noir clones that are most found in Oregon. While I’m not a huge Pinot Noir lover, this session gave me an incredible appreciation for the subtle nuances of the grape and it was the most geeky session I attended.
6. After Parties
One thing to know about the wine bloggers conference. Wine tasting starts with donuts at 9:30am and doesn’t end until the final after party is over. Thanks to Randall Graham for his hospitality (where I tasted one of the best wines of the night – a 100% Syrah full of meaty, gamey, spicy goodness), Washington Wine Commission and the ever so gracious Jordan Winery where the party continued until well after 3am!
5. Portland Food Trucks
When travelling to Portland one must venture out to experience the food truck phenomenon. Saturday afternoon Joe Herrig, Ben Simons, Madeline Puckette and I escaped for lunch and enjoyed fries, pies, burritos and some vegan stuff. You should too.
4. Oregon Hospitality
The whole state seemed to open their arms to embrace 350 thirsty wine mongers eager to learn about the state and their wine. Top notch show, Oregon…and the Pinot was superb too.
3. Randall Graham Keynote
While not every key note was worth listening to Randall Graham delivered a speech that was humorous, educational, full of witty prose, and entertaining. Kudos to an industry icon and epic wine maker.
2. King Estate Wine Dinner
OH. MY. GOSH. The Saturday night dinner was an awesome experience. King Estate Winery listened to all the feedback from last year’s conference and hosted a 5 course 5 star dinner complete with interactive micro-site and perfect wine pairings. Top notch showcase guys!
1. My friends and family!
So good seeing you again. Can’t wait to enjoy next year’s family reunion in Penticton, BC