Santa Barbara wine country will host wine bloggers in 2014

At the conclusion of the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference in Penticton, British Columbia, on Saturday, June 8th, it was announced that Santa Barbara wine country has been selected to host the 7th annual North American Wine Bloggers Conference for 2014. The conference will be held at the Santa Ynez Marriott Hotel in Buellton from July 11 to 13th.

Bloggers a larger impact than the “Sideways” movie?

Until the movie “Sideways” came out in 2004, this area of Santa Barbara had been best known for the Anderson Split Pea Soup factory and for the Danish town of Solvang. How fitting that the Santa Barbara Wine Bloggers Conference will be held on the tenth anniversary of the movie. The movie featured the Santa Barbara wine country as the characters of Miles and Jack moved from winery to winery in search of Pinot Noir. The movie had such a following that it had an enormous effect on Pinot Noir. Because it was so esteemed in the movie, Pinot Noir sales were carried to new heights and higher prices followed. A negative mention of Merlot in the movie did just the opposite for that varietal, with popularity of the grape plummeting. When the movie was released there were five tasting rooms in Los Olivos, the center of this wine country. Today, there are 27 tasting rooms alone in the town. “Sideways” had a huge effect on the popularity of this area. Now comes perhaps an even greater influence, the 2014 North American Wine Bloggers Conference.

There are expected to be 350 attendees at this conference. Most of these attendees not only blog, but tweet copiously, post to Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest. They won’t be doing this just during the conference, but also for months before and long after the conference. As we write this post, the Tweeter feeds and Facebook posts are making their way throughout the digital wine community. This is an absolute bonanza for the Santa Barbara Wine Country Association. It will bring more attention to wine lovers around the globe to the many varietals and styles of wine that are produced in this area of the four separate AVA’s of Santa Barbara.

Watch this two-minute video to gain a perspective of the San Barbara wine country and what it has to offer to wine lovers around the globe.

Napa Valley bashing at the Wine Bloggers Conference

The Napa Valley is recognized as one of the top wine regions in the world. When you are top dog, expect to take some shots from your rivals. Napa Valley wineries had their share of good-natured bashing from Oregon wineries at the 5th Annual Wine Bloggers Conference held in Portland, Oregon, this past weekend.

Oregon wineries needle Napa Valley

Willamette Valley winemaker


What we heard along the way

“In Willamette Valley the weather cools rapidly from afternoon winds from the Van Duzer Corridor. Night time temperatures drop dramatically. In the Napa Valley it is hot all the time.”

“The Napa Valley Pinot Noirs from Carneros are too big.”

“Here in the Willamette Valley the winemakers and owners share their knowledge and help one another. In the Napa Valley, it is all corporate.”

“One thing that differentiates the Willamette Valley from the Napa Valley is that each year the growing season in the Willamette is very different. The climate varies significantly year to year. Napa does not have that fluctuation so their wines are always the same.”

“Here in the Willamette Valley you are likely to find a winemaker or family member working the tasting room. That is something you won’t find in the Napa Valley.”

What Oregon wineries should be saying to Napa Valley [Read more...]

First Impressions of Virginia Wine – Wine Bloggers Conference

When the venue for the 4th Annual Wine Bloggers Conference was announced, many in the audience gasped. Virginia was chosen over Paso Robles and the Finger Lakes region of New York. How could that be, many cried? I heard one blogger shout out “Virginia wine is not that good.” We attended the wine bloggers pre-conference on Wednesday and Thursday of this week and had the opportunity to visit four wineries in the Loudoun County in Northern Virginia. I have to conclude that after tasting wines at these four wineries, the wine is very good in this part of Virginia, and a few of their varietals are stellar. I’m not about to suggest the wines are overall as good as California wines or those of the Napa Valley, but several I tried certainly measure up to our standards. I know these wineries were hand picked by the local tourist office, but this did gives us an eye opener into the quality and potential for Virginia wines.

We visited Tarara Winery, Breaux Vineyards, Chrysalis Winery, and Boxwood Winery. At each winery the winemaker and owner presented their wines, and much like at any winery in California spoke glowingly about their wines.

We loved all the Viognier we tried, and we can easily see why this wine is so popular in Virginia. I wish I’d had some California Viognier on the spot for comparison. These Viognier wines have excellent floral and tropical characteristics and a great mouth feel. I was less impressed with the Chardonnay wines and maybe that is because I just don’t drink that much Chardonnay to begin with. At Breaux Vineyards I rated their Meritage and the Nebbiolo at 90 points. I had not tasted as delicious a Nebbiolo in some time. [Read more...]

Napa Valley Vintners Wine and Dine Bloggers

At last year’s first-ever wine blogger conference, the Napa Valley wineries were noticeably absent from all activities. At this year’s conference it was another story. The entire day on Saturday, 12 hours’ worth, was all Napa Valley. The Napa Valley Vintners wined and dined the conference attendees showing off what the Napa Valley is all about – wine, food, and beauty. I’m guessing the Napa Valley Vintners think that those who blog and use Twitter and Facebook are very important and influential, because they really did roll out the red carpet to impress all of us. [Read more...]

Napa Valley Bits & Pieces of Wine News – June 15th

Amazon Closer to Selling Wine
When New Vine Logistics closed its doors a couple of weeks back many were predicting that Amazon would either drop or have a long delay in launching their plan to sell wine online. Amazon had contracted New Vine Logistics to handle the sales. New Vine Logistics is back and word has it that several key wine industry people (not me, however) have been invited to a sneak preview of the Amazon wine website. For Napa Valley wineries this just might be the help they need to clear building inventory. This is good for the consumer as well, more chances to find the ultimate wine bargain. Wine.woot is cool but Amazon will be fierce competition. My source for this information is from “Tech Flash“.

Events for the Wine Traveler
It is heating up in the Napa Valley with events and happenings scheduled for the summer wine traveler. One of the main attractions is next Saturday evening, June 20th, 6 pm to 10 pm. called the Solarbartion. This event is taking place at the new, chic, and very “green” hotel, the Bardessono in Yountville. Ten solar-powered Napa Valley wineries will be represented. This event features wine tasting, food, and live entertainment.

Napa Valley Vintners Auction
This is old news but articles are still popping up about the auction raising a measly 5.7 million. My reaction: that is a lot of money and not too shabby considering the shellacking most everyone has taken in the stock market and housing market, not to mention how many have been laid off or worked furloughed. Way to go Napa Vintners!

Wine Blogger Conference — Napa Valley Wineries Will Have a Presence.
This is the second annual event for wine bloggers taking place at the Flamingo Hotel in Santa Rosa on July 24 to 26th. At last year’s event, the Napa Valley was a no-show, while wineries from Sonoma County wined and dined the attendees. This year it is a different matter with the Napa Vintners taking the entire group of wine bloggers on a day-long Saturday outing to the Napa Valley that includes a Grand Tasting of Napa wines at Quintessa and dinner served at participating wineries. When the conference is over, the Hall Winery has invited bloggers for a tour and tasting and lunch and has negotiated $99 a night stay at the La Rsidence Inn for July 26, 27.

Wine Traveler Lodging Specials
There are many deals to be had at least through the end of June and maybe longer. I went to six lodging websites and found specials at each one. This includes the Yountville Inn, Villagio Inn, Harvest Inn, and Marriott. However, I have found Internet specials are not always the best deal. Contact the lodging establishment by phone and ask them for the best special they can offer you for your dates of travel.