Early Monday morning I arrived back in Toronto after four days in Sonoma, California at the 2017 Wine Bloggers Conference. Exhausted from both the red eye I’d just taken and the few days that preceded it, I couldn’t wait to get home and sleep. I napped for four hours and when I woke up my head was full of memories and new information. It’s going to take me a while to process everything that happened.
In an effort to begin to do just that I thought I’d share with you some thoughts and impressions of my first time at the Wine Bloggers Conference.
(Before I delve in I want to thank the folks who organized the scholarship program for the conference. I really would not have been able to attend had it not been for the support I received. I am so grateful I was able to go to this conference)
So. Much. WINE
Like, I’m talking a lot. A LOT a lot.
There was so much of California wine to taste, which was great because I’m a bit of a cheapskate and I don’t get a lot of California wine in my price range at home.
But I also got to taste new-to-me wines from the Alsace, Cariñena (Spain), Oregon, and Lugana (Italy). I even got to enjoy a particularly delicious rosé Champagne at the closing night dinner. Each one broadened my horizons and my palate and I really can’t recall not liking one.
Actually, that’s not true. There was one wine I didn’t love, but it wasn’t actually a wine but rather a wine that had its alcohol removed so it could be infused with TCH. That’s right – I tried pot wine! It was… interesting.
Sharing a piece of home
I’m proud to say I think the Riesling was well received – more than one person told me they thought it was great. Sadly the Cab Franc didn’t quite wow people like I’d hoped. Both my roommate and I heard people wonder where the fruit was on the wine.
I get it. We’d been drinking California wines all weekend. Grapes get so much more ripe in California’s climate than in Ontario’s, of course there was less fruit! I’m disappointed that my fellow conference goers didn’t seem to love the wine as much as I did, but I understand it at least. Sigh. Next time I’ll bring something different.
The elephant in the room
While there were a lot of great sessions and information flying all around, being in Sonoma County meant that in every lull and pause the topic of the recent fires came up. The folks running the conference pulled together two sessions on the fires for us – one on what happened and another on how the media dealt with it (and what our role as bloggers could be).
During the first session a photographer shared his experience capturing the first three days of the fires and their devastation. In the second session a journalist shared how she inadvertently became a conduit of information because each level of government was scrambling and community members felt confused and alone while the fires raged. Each panel member (and many local wine bloggers) felt strongly that more and better communication was necessary. They also feel that, now that the fires are gone, it’s important to try and prevent ‘disaster tourism’, encouraging us to write instead about the health and vitality of the area instead of the fires themselves.
In the end the biggest message I took in was the areas eagerness to have us there and show that they’re open for business. That was certainly my experience in Sonoma. All the winemakers and winery reps I met were so friendly and passionate and eager to share their wines with me. It was wonderful.
Swirling wine and swirling thoughts
Like any good conference it was a swift, dense few days. It’s left me with lots of great memories and more thoughts and ideas for this blog than I can keep in my brain. I’ve started writing out notes and scheming and have begun planning what I want 2018 to look like in the world of Palate Practice. I’m excited and I hope you are too!