Virginia’s Take Away From the Wine Blogger’s Conference

The wine blogger’s conference 2011 (#wbc11) has come and gone, but I for one, have not come down from the excitement high I got from being part of it all.  I was ecstatic when they announced last year that the 2011 conference was going to be in my own back door (Charlottesville was only a 3 hour drive for me).  Getting to meet some of the great people I share tweets with on a regular basis and getting to taste all those greatVirginia Wines had me walking on air before the conference ever started.  They even threw in some educational sessions!  The conference schedule kept us hopping but I still had so much fun and will make every effort to attend again next year in Portland, Oregon.

So I walked away having had a great experience, some fun memories, lots of new friends, and a little more knowledge about wine; but what did the Virginia Wine Industry get from the conference?  What did the Virginia Wineries take away from this 3-day marathon of pouring wine, hosting bloggers at their wineries and doing interviews?

Virginia Wine Board:  Annette Boyd from the Virginia Wine Board  had only surface knowledge about the Wine Blogger’s Conference prior to being contacted by Allan Wright from Zephyr Adventures in the Spring of 2010 to see if there would be any interest in hosting the 2011 conference in Virginia.  The Virginia Wine board had just finished hosting a Drink Local Wine Conference in April, 2010.  This conference had created a lot of buzz about Virginia wines and had people talking.  There was about 30 attendees at this conference and all of them had been invited.  Even though this conference was considered successful, it paled in comparison to the Wine Blogger’s Conference that was to come.

The Virginia Wine Board is still very excited about #wbc11.  The conference was sold out.  There were only 45 attendees from California which meant the door had opened wide for attendees from “the other 46.”  Having the conference on the East coast broadened the reach of the conference and elevated it to a whole new level.   Annette has read numerous passionate discussions and blogs since the conference – some good, some not so good.  But the BIG positive is that people are talking about Virginia wines.  The “Common Wealth of Wine” is on the map!

Keswick Vineyards: Keswick Vineyards had never heard of the Wine Blogger’s Conference until it was already set up to come to Virginia but they decided to jump in head first and be part of everything that was going on over the course of the 3-day conference.  The winemaker, Stephen Barnard, realizes that there will not be an immediate impact on wine sales for any of the Virginia wineries, Keswick included.  But, like Annette Boyd, Stephen is thrilled that so many people are talking about Virginia wines.  This captive audience was far-reaching and it is impossible to measure the value of the marketing the Virginia wine industry received as a result of the conference; after all, we are still talking about it.

Even though Keswick Vineyards participated in every event the conference had to offer, Stephen’s highlight was the media tour of the winery where they served lunch to all of us and he had the chance to interact with each of us on a more personal level.

Veritas:  “In Vino Veritas” ~ “In Wine There Is Truth” Veritas Vineyard & Winery, like Keswick Vineyards, was not at all familiar with the Wine Blogger’s Conference prior to the announcement from the Virginia Wine Board that we were coming to town but they caught on quickly.  Veritas not only participated in all the events as a winery, the owner, Andrew Hodson, was actively involved in all the events.  He poured wine for the Speed Tastings, joined us for dinner and even went on the Rioja pub crawl with us.  Andrew’s take-away from #wbc11 was that it was sort of  like a “shot of steroids” for the Virginia wine industry and one of the best things to ever happen to the industry.

Everyone is in agreement that Virginia will soon be considered a destination for their wineries and a favorite vacation spot for the consummate wine lover.  Everyone I talked with would do it again and if the opportunity presents itself, they will attend #wbc12.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Alana Gentry
    Aug 05, 2011 @ 04:59:56

    Jean, Your commentary is just what we need as a group of wine influencers in the virtual world. Keep doing what you are doing. You are on my #1list of wine writers. Nice job.


  2. Red Wine Diva
    Aug 05, 2011 @ 12:17:22

    Thanks, Alana – I truly had the best time! And I love talking with all these fun people to write about wine and events. Next year when we go to Portland, you should register and go with us. We would have so much fun hanging out!!!


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