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Summertime and Summer Wines: Cougar Crest Winery

Date: Wed, Jul 14, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

It's hot! This is the time of the year when you want something cool; a nice chilled wine. You really don't want a heavy Cabernet Sauvignon or even a Merlot, do you?You want a light wine to quench your thirst and to pair with lighter foods such as salads, grilled fish, seafood, poultry and fresh vegetables just picked from the garden. Now, I don't have anything against Chardonnay, but think beyond it. Get adventurous!Two of the most recent wines I have tasted that fits your summer wine needs; such as BBQ, picnics and just plain ol' porch sippin' can be found at Cougar Crest Winery.

2007 Cougar Crest Walla Walla Valley Estate Grown Viognier:Winemaker, Deborah Hansenwasone of the first winemakers in the valley to put Viognier on the map in Walla Walla. The key to this lush white wine is due to being fermented to dryness without oak barrels or malolactic fermentation. I have to wonder if just that little bit of age also adds to the fullness of this Viognier. I am a big fan of Viognier, but I can be a big stickler.For me,it is all about the nose. Viognier, if done well, usually shows off a fruity, yet floral nose. Thefloral notes of orange blossom and honeysuckle come through in the Cougar Crest Viognier, along withnotes of stonefruit and pears. The palate shows off notes of honey, cotton candy, pear nectar with very balanced acids.I think of this Viognier and I think of sitting on the porch in the early evening and pairing this wine with aplate of French cheeses and fresh fruit picked from the valley.

2008 Cougar Crest: Walla Walla Valley Estate Grown Grenache Rosé: I wish more people would discover how wonderfulrosés are, especially those produced in the Walla Walla Valley. This 100% Grenache Rosé from Cougar Crest is like the South of France in a bottle with its spicy notes and flavors of berry jam.I would pair it with the most freshest salads and seafood to even BBQ ribs or an oven-fired pizza topped with dried tomatoesand sweet 'n'spicy sausage! Actually, you could skip the food and just make it a "balcony and a book" kind of wine. I wouldn't wait too long to try this wine because it's moving quickly. So to all of you who are afraid of being seen with pink in your glass - man up! This ain't your grandmother's jug white zin.



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New Highway 12 in Walla Walla: Where Did the Wineries Go?

Date: Tue, Jul 13, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

The old U.S. Highway 12 maybe tucked, plucked, widened and realigned, butthenew highway's "cosmetic surgery" iscausing problems for wineries.There isn't going to be any GPS thatwill find these wineries for quite some time.Where did they all go?


This new eight-miles of blacktop and intersections, that openedthe week of June 21,is truly a good thing for our county. It is something we have needed for many years. U.S. Highway 12, from Burbank to Walla Walla, is a heavily traveled, two-lane highway with an average daily traffic count of up to 13,000 vehicles per day. Freight trucks account for approximately 33 percent of the traffic volume. Cargo volumes through this section of U.S. Highway 12 can reach 10.73 million tons per year. More Americans are killed on rural roads (like U.S. Highway 12) than crowded urban expressways, even though two-lane roads carry less traffic. Since 1991, U.S. Highway 12 from Burbank to Walla Walla has experienced 1,079 accidents, of which 414 were injury accidents that resulted in 30 deaths.

The good news is thereare only 21-miles left to go to finish this project. In the mean time,our most noticeable wineries that dozens of tourists pass everyday on that portion of old Highway12 have been "lost."Wineries that are located on the now "old" two-lane highway that were dependent on tourism traffic headed into the city of Walla Walla, have now been by-passed without signage or any kind of redirection. In the mean time; Bunchgrass, Cougar Crest, Glencorrie, Long Shadows Vintners, Skylite Cellars, Reininger, and Three Rivers are mostly affected.L'Ecole No 41, Woodward Canyon, and Waterbrook are still on the map. However, their locations are on the old highwayjust beforethe change and redirection to where the new highway begins (or ends if you aretraveling west). And wouldn't you know in the wisdom of it all,the new highway opened when we had over 300 visitors to attend the Wine Bloggers Conference held at the Marcus Whitman Hotel in Walla Walla.

Wineries were assured that the switch from the old highway to the new one wouldn't be made without proper signage and access, acknowledging that wineries are a vital piece to the state's economy as the trucks that are hauling goods on the highway. Jim Kuntz, Port of Walla Walla executive director, said the bulk of funding, $42.5 million, came from state funds raised by a 9.5 cent a gallon gasoline tax approved by voters several years ago. Another $13.3 million came from federal funds and local contributions (including many wineries) totaled $160,000. And when you consider that 9.5 cent a gallon raise of gasoline tax was paid by many winery tourists on the west side of the state, it's time for the acknowledgment of these wineries and their existence.

"Opened two weeks ago to traffic, the new stretch of highway between Walla Walla and Frenchtown (Lowden) has not only taken away the drive-by traffic, it's cut off connections for those who were destined for the wineries in the first place" said Skylite Cellars owner Cheryl Hodgins, "The winery's weekend traffic has consequently been cut off from about 200 visitors to zero."

The access, especiallytoSkylite Cellars, along the old highway at 25 Campbell Road has been blocked to traffic traveling from the east and the west.However, theconnection from the new highway to the oldportion hasnot been completed at this time.Vicki Hillhouse of the Walla Walla Union Bulletin contacted the Washington State Department of Transportationand theycommentedthey are working with the affected wineries to provide signage and redirect traffic to their businesses.WSDOThas also commented that the lack of access is expected to be temporary while these newconnections are completed over the next two weeks. Let's watch what happens in the next two weeks.

For further information:
Check out the map designed by Woodward Canyon.
Quote and more information fromVicki Hillhouse at Walla Walla Union Bulletin


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Bits & Pieces: WBC10 in Walla Walla

Date: Sat, Jul 10, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

In the last two years, wine bloggers have been criticized by the traditional media. And often, in spite of their criticism of bloggers, especially wine bloggers, traditional mediahas often been thefirst to jump on the "blogging band wagon." Take a look online at your local newspaper, even the New York Times, and you will find blogs.

Just recently, wine bloggers were under scrutiny when they came together at Walla Walla for the third annual North American Wine Bloggers' Conference. Not just at this conference, but wine bloggers have been criticized as the wine industrywatchesthe wine bloggingnumbers grow.Criticisms come with a broad range from: "a bunch of freeloading drunks" to "their social media tools have no value in the wine industry."

Sure, like anything, wine bloggers will come and go.But the tenacious and the talented will stay and even find their own place in the ever-so growing and multi-faceted wine industry and wine publication business.


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Food and Wine Pairing at the WBC10: Food Network Star, Chef Jeffrey Saad

Date: Fri, Jul 9, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

It's not too often you just happen to look upand see a very familiar, yetout-of-town face joining you at a hotel breakfast buffet line. And not just anybody you see passing by on the streets either, but someone you have seen on national television. Well, there I was standing alone ata hotel breakfast buffet line,gathering some fruit and scrambled eggs on my plate whenChef Jeffrey Saad, the runner-upon season five of The Next Food Network Star entered the room and joined me at the buffet line at the Marcus Whitman Hotel during the Wine Blogger's Conference.

We visited about his whirlwind trip to Walla Walla while getting prepared to be the guest speakerfor the Food and Wine Pairing Seminar that was held Sunday morning at the WBC10 in Walla Walla. On Saturday he was able to visit the Monteillet Fromagerie at Dayton and visit with the vibrant Joan Monteillet. He also imbided withdrink and food at jimgermanbar in Waitsburg.Once inWalla Walla at the hotel, Jeffrey got to see first hand the Marc's kitchen "garden" of micro-greens" and the "magic" of food and wine pairings by Chef Bear. After sharing information about the best of Walla Walla, it was time to let the man rest and havea quietbreakfast alone, but I would definitelymake sure I attendedhis seminar.

Jeffrey is even better in person than on TV. You really get toexperience his energy and his enthusiasm for food and even better - food and wine pairings. He really explains the process of the pairings very simply, while leaving the audience thinking, "Oh sure. Of course! I knew that, but now it's confirmed."

First of all, we all know what tastes good to us, whether or not it is food or wine or both paired together. The tools needed for food and wine pairings? The nose, tongue, and love for filling your mouth with brilliant and delicious flavor combinations! It is important to first please the tongue before the nose. The tongue isthe gatekeeper with the important balance and understanding of the following: acid, sweet, salty, alcohol, fat and spice. However,it is the nosewhere we really savor the true experience of the wine and food pairing.

He definitely got got my attention when he brought up simple pairings of ketchup and French fries.WhileI am not a fan of ketchup, I totally understandwhy children favor this very sweet condiment.It can make a difference for them in the foods they will eat.As Jeffrey pointed out, the sweetness of the ketchup balances the salt of the fries and theacidity of the ketchup cleanses the fat of the fries. Put them all together and you have a happy palate.

For an idea of what food and wine pairs well, match or contrast the elements in the food and and the wine. Here are some of Jeffrey's suggestions, along with some of my personal favorites.

Match:

Acid with Acid -Citrus or tomato base foods will soften the acids in the wine and food, whilebringing out the fruity notesin the wine. This is why spaghetti with a red sauce is a must with Chianti (Sangiovese).

Sweet with Sweet - Sweetness is tamed and flavors of food and wine are accentuated. A bite of a simple apple pie is accentuated with a sip of a Late Harvest Riesling or chocolate mousse with a sip of Port.

Contrast:

Fat with Acid - Salmon is a fatty fish and the sprinkle of lemon "cleans" the fat and brings the flavors together. A steel fermented Chardonnay or a crisp Spanish Albarino is a perfect pairing for fish.

Protein with Tannin - MEAT! Animal meat and fats will soften the tannins in a wine. Strongly brewed orange/black pekoe teas are very tannic and once a little cream is added, the drink is softened.The tannins inwine cuts the fat in the meat just as the lemon assists in reducing the flavors of fat in fish or seafood, such as lobster.Simply explained would be a fatty prime rib with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Let me add (this isn't from Jeffrey) for vegetarians: the caramelized flavors of roasted and grilled vegetables will also work to tame the tannins in red wine. A grilled and meaty portabello mushroom, anyone?

Contrasts to Avoid:

Salty with High Alcohol - This pairing will exaggerate the alcohol in the wine. Drink lower alcohol white wines, such asBubbles (Champagne, Cava and Prosecco) or off-dry whites,such asa German Riesling or Gewurztraminer.

Nuts with Tannins - Tannins in the red wine are accelerated. Skip the salty cashews with the Cabernet Sauvignon and reach for a chilled Chardonnay, instead.

Hot n' Spicy with Tannins - Again the tannins areaccelerated. My favorite with curry entrees, chicken fajitasor spicy Asian influenced foods are the off-dry whites such as Riesling or Gewurztraminer. Usually the fruit of the wine really shows off. However, spicy meatballs will still work well with an acidic red wine like Barbera, but I also think it balances out if there is a cheese in the meatballs or on the side.

Cheese - Then along comes cheese - how to pair and with what? I was once told by a cheese monger, when in doubt go an off-dry Riesling. Chef Jeffrey Saad suggests: Sweet or off-dry wines aresafe withmost cheeses, such as Riesling, Sauterne (amazing with strong cheese) and Chenin Blanc.

Creamy cheeses such as Brie will wipe out the tannins in a red wine, often leavingthe wineflat. Sweet wines will off-set a salty cheese, such as a Manchego, Pamesean or Mizithra (my favorite salty cheese with brown butter over spaghetti ). Strict red wine loverscan still enjoy cheese and wine pairings with a very well aged cheese, such as an old Wisconsin Cheddar or a Pecorino Romano. An acidic cheese like goat; again, follow the suggestions above for acids. And try to avoid red wines paired with stinky cheeses, such as Stilton or Taleggio (my favorite). Unless - - when in Rome ...

The top three food friendly wines according to Jeffrey:

1. Barbera – This acidic red with bright fruit willpair with a huge range of food. The Italians must know something when paired traditionally with a variety of foods such as red sauced pastas, pork, turkey and cheeses.

2. Rose – This dry or off-drypretty pink winewill go well with almost anything. There is enough acid to match the acid in aCaesarromaine salad, whileenough fruit to off-set spicy foods. Also consider there is just enough tannins from the minimal skin contact to stand up to most proteins. Roses are great BBQ wine for those hot summer days when you want the flavors of a red wine, but want the chill of a white.

3. Champagne - As long as it is not overly yeasty the low alcohol, high acidity and mild yeast marry with a huge range of food. You don't just have to eat caviar while sipping Champagne. Pair it with fried chicken and even popcorn.I prefer Spanish Cava bubbles because they are typically less yeasty than traditonal Champagne.

Jeffrey suggestedhis top three unforgettable classic wine and food matches: 1.) Foie gras and sauterne; 2.) Sherry (oloroso)and Marcona almonds,and 3. ) A rib-eye and malbec.

Enjoy this ideas and don't forget to experiment on your own.Get adventuresome. As Julia Child would say, "Bon Appetit!"


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WBC10 - Live Wine Blogging in Walla Walla: Worthwhile for the Wineries?

Date: Thu, Jul 8, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

Live Wine Blogging isa favorite event amongst the wine bloggers and it is also an opportunity where winemakers are invited to show off their wines. At least eight wine bloggers are seated at table and will get to taste up to 12 wines poured by 12 winemakers and/or a reps of the winery. Each wine is given five minutes to be poured, hand-out tasting notes and for the winemaker to talk abouthis/her wine. Bloggers taste the winewhile fast and furiously type up their notes live via social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Often referred to as "Speed Dating" because of the ringing bell reminding the winemaker and the wine blogger their time is done. Once the bell rings, the winemaker will move on to the next table they are assigned, where once again they will romance a new group of wine bloggers.

It has been such a popularevent that the organizerschanged theone-time session intoa two-session event at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla. Live Wine Blogging Friday for Whites and Rosés. Live Wine Blogging Saturday for Red.

Plenty of dump buckets, fresh glasses and pitchers of water are provided at each table sobloggers can take care of their palates. This year in Walla Walla a large screen was provided so we could actually see the tweets live from Twitter. What helps identify those tweets are each wine blogger is asked to add "#WBC10" to their tweets.

Critics have said there is no way a winery can measure if "speed dating" really works. It has also been suggested that this event is just another way for wine bloggers to drink free wine and get drunk. I guess we are always going to have critics, and especially those critics who are the first to speak up about something they have not attended or seen for themselves.However, it is an opportunity for winemakers to reach out to a new group of at least 300 peoplethat they may not had the opportunity to show off their winesbefore.Ifthe wine blogger likes the wine they are tasting,more than likely they will pay attention tothe winery in the future. And speaking for myself, when I attendedWBC09 in California, I found some small boutique California wines that I will never forget and will continue to seek out.

Unfortunately, on Friday's "speed dating" I had a difficult time getting logged into the internet and when I finally did, I could not get into Twitter. Must have been overload. So, what do you do in a time like that? Drink the wine, take hand notes and watch the Twitter results on the large screen. A winery may not be able to measure the value of "speed dating," butI read several positive tweets regarding: Caleb Foster of Buty Winery scored big with his blend of Sémillon, Sauvignonand Muscadelle.You don't see a lot of Muscadelle around, especially in WashingtonState.Gilles Nicault of Long Shadows Vintners' Poet's Leap Riesling received several tweets for, not only the generous aromas and the clean taste of citrus, but also the unique concept of the winery itself. Dusted Valley'sRamblin' Rosé, poured by Chad Johnson,was tweeted up a storm for the complexity of this "pretty in pink" wine.Cool and complex. Pithy Little Wine Co. from San Luis Obispo, CA pouredtheirSangiovese Rosé. It was clean and bright with tastes of cherries and citrus. I really took notice of this California Rosé.

On the Saturday's Live Wine Blogging for the red wines, thank goodness I was able to tweet up the Twitter. I couldn't pay near as much attention to the large Twitter screen since I was busy contributing my own tweets to it, but again Long Shadows Vintners was on the board favorably for it's Sequel Syrah. Tweets were "dooking" it out over the Velvet Glove Shiraz, with - - yes a velvet label, by MollyDooker wines from Australia.

This Shiraz is a wine youimmediately decide you are not going to like even before giving it a chance of a sip. The labels from MollyDookerare over the top (They must be over compensatingon the labels because the wine iseither bad to mediocre). MollyDooker wines are over 15% alcohol (All you are going to taste is a hot finish).They use nitrogen gas to protect the wine during wine making, so they can use less sulfites (Clever marketing scheme). So how did it taste? Well, let's put it this way, I didn't dump it, instead Igrabbed another glass for the next wine to be poured. I wanted to savor thenose ofviolet and coffee in the dark liquid of the Velvet Glove Shiraz. It seemed like a rich and thick chocolate in my mouth with flavors of black and blue berries. There was no hot finish, but more velvety layers of chocolate, coffee andbramble berries. I later found out the Velvet Glove is $185 a bottle.Do I have good taste or ...can be swayed by clever marketing? No. It was really all in the taste. A very plush wine.

Here is a list of some of the other wines that were featured during the Live Wine Blogging:

2008 Duck Pond Cellars Pinot Gris (Willamette Valley, OR)
2009 aMaurice Estate Viognier, "The Sparrow" (Walla Walla, WA)
NV Pepperwood Grove Chardonnay - Non vintage in a box(CA)
2009 Desert Wind Viognier (Wahluke Slope, WA)
2009 Big House White - interesting shaped box wine (CA)
2008 Maryhill Viognier (Columbia Valley, WA)
2008 Delille Cellars Chaleur Estate Blanc (Columbia Valley, WA)
2008 Hogue Genesis Riesling (Columbia Valley, WA)

2008 Solena Estate Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, OR)
2007 Concannon Conservancy Petite Sirah (Livermore Valley, CA)
2006 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley, CA)
2007 Maryhill Zinfandel (Columbia Valley, WA)
2008 Duck Pond Cellars Red Blend (Wahluke Slope, WA)
2007 Trio Vintners Riot Red Blend (Columbia Valley, WA)
2008 Ponzi Vineyards Tavola Pinot Noir (Willamette, OR)
2005 Nicholas Cole Cellars Camille RedBlend (Walla Walla, WA)
2008 CornerStone Cabernet Franc (Napa Valley, CA)
2007 Stoller Vineyards JV Estate Pinot Noir (Willamette, OR)


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Sour Grapes? Say it isn't so? Wine Bloggers Conference at Walla Walla

Date: Sun, Jul 4, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

Yesterday I was at the Walla Walla Farmer's Market and it thrilled me to no end when a local county official stopped me to "... congratulate the wine bloggers on a successful conference and how wonderful it was to have them in Walla Walla." I have to say - - that comment made my day.

It's been a week now and the streets of Walla Walla are somewhat back to normal after WBC10. The very least of the City Father's worries now are those damn fireworks. KA-BOOM! And speaking of fireworks: There seems to be some noise and smoke, instead of light and confetti, regarding the results of the WBC10 in Walla Walla. Is the ultimate goal of these scorching flames to make WBC10 look like a fizzled ol' firecracker who couldn't even pop with the best lap dance?

Now, before you criticize me for being a cheer leading poodle, I think it is very important to address some of what others feel were not so shining moments of the WBC10, however - - only if addressing them is going to be used as a learning tool for improvement. If you must beat upon your chest to be heard for the sake of just being an ol' poopy pants then be gone with you!

Allow me to address some of the flames:

They're bloggers ain't they, so where are all of the blogs? I looked for them on Monday and haven't seen very many?

Patience grasshopper. Many of the wine bloggers traveled miles to the WBC10 and have been on the road for over a full week and of course, many are trying to pick up where they left off with the family and work schedules. An event like this is overwhelming and packed full of information. I even found myself wondering what angle was the best way to present some of the information I had gathered. Like any writer, you use the information that you think your audience is interested in. And certainly, many bloggers will be writing about the event for a few months to come.

You may even find information about the results of the WBC10 through Google Subscriptions, syndicated wine news sites that automatically leave the info via Twitter, and don't forget to check out Flickr, Vimeo, and YouTube for photos and videos.

All those wine bloggers really wanted to do was party.

Well, yes and no. Through the years many of the wine bloggers have built friendships and networks because of events like this, besides keeping in touch almost daily through sources like Twitter and Facebook. Online tools have, not only given us advantages of discussing wine blogging issues, but to celebrate life with each other from new promotions and expected babies. It's no wonder when we do have face-to-face gatherings we just pick up where we left off on Twitter. If gathering in a hotel lobby sitting in a circle of chairs and couches with friends drinking wine is a party to you, well - you need to get out more. Oh yes - in case you forgot, it is a W-I-N-E Bloggers Conference, not the Welch's Grape Juice Conference.

Sure, there were parties of strippers with flaming pasties and magnums of wine being poured down gullets with decadent abandoned, but don't look at me. I didn't go to that party and don't blame the wine bloggers either who took advantage of the event. They didn't host the party - they were "lured" - lured by fame, billboards, rock star winemakers and SATAN! (It's the license number on his Bentley) - - and frankly? Oh how I wish I had gone or at least been a mouse in a corner. While my brain is young, my body is feeling its age and besides, I needed to be responsible because I drove home every night from the conference. Honestly, it tickles me that many of the wine bloggers could bust out behind their computers and have some fun. Anyways, I have been to crazier parties than that at funeral director conventions - seriously. Seriously.

We had some of the wine bloggers at our winery for a panel discussion. The discussion was a dud and fizzled. The bloggers stared at our panel as if we had the heads of Dick Cheney, John Merrick, and Lizzie Borden on our shoulders leading a discussion on the mating of the dung beetle and how their rituals of combining their units together can be broken down to an algebraic sum. Finally we sparked a little bit of fire under their dead fleshy butts when we broke out the wine. At least they bought some.

I sympathize. I really do. I was a participant in a panel discussion during the WBC10, along with Colby Voorhees from Wine Peeps and Joe Power from Another Wine Blog. The topic given to us for discussion was Wine Blogging 101. Colby, Joe and I had to put together our discussion through emails and then met for about 10 minutes before our discussion to confirm our plan.

I have to admit, there was a side of me that felt we were going to fall on "deaf ears." I thought for sure if we had five people in the room that would be huge! You want us to talk about Wine Blogging 101 with a building full of established wine bloggers? I was already rolling through my mind many worse case scenarios and how could we keep the discussion lively and not fail? If we failed, it wouldn't be the fault of our audience. The three of us would have to take responsibility - - and we didn't even have the opportunity to fall back on some wine sales.

Colby was very instrumental in forming a game plan and Joe and I each had our input. We were really pleased when we saw an audience of at least 20 people! Colby reached out to our group to gather information from them and what they wanted to hear from us. Joe and Colby both gave solid input about the tech side of blogging while I was the "fluff" - the cheerleader. I input a little comic relief once in awhile.

After the conference it actually surprised me when members of our audience actually thanked me and said they left our discussion inspired. If each person left with one bit of information, then we did our job. And besides, if all you do is sell a bottle of wine or two, then consider it two bottles of wine sold that weren't sold before. Isn't that one of the biggest points of owning a winery? The point is, you made a contact. Chances are pretty great the next time they hear the names, "Walla Walla" or "Washington State," they are going to remember your winery and your wine. The conference brought an awareness of Washington wines that will create a residual for years to come.

This was a pay to play event.

You bet it was. But what isn't a play to pay event? I have to pay dollars to get into the Walla Walla Fair grounds even if I only want to take a walk on the "wild side" by staring at the carnies and then pay again to eat a bunch of deep fried batter. In "another life," I was an event coordinator for profit and non-profit organizations. I worked with large hotels and coliseums, so I understand the game. Admission alone is your break even if you are lucky and you hope with everything else, there is some leftover "gravy." Even something as simple as the movie theatre, the admission ticket pays for the rental of the movie and the concession is hopefully some profit after wages and overhead.

The wine blogger's are really fortunate to have organizers, Open Wine Consortium and Zephyr Wine Adventures who are very pro-active in obtaining sponsors and participants to help defray the costs of admission to the wine bloggers. And of course, the organizers have their own costs - it takes a lot of time, money, extra travel (yes, they came to Walla Walla a few months before the conference to get a feel for the "lay of the land.") to put together an event, particularly like this one. At a $95 entry fee, this year the wine bloggers really got their money's worth, over and beyond - and a lot of that is because of sponsors and fees to participate. Thank you.

I own a vineyard! I own a winery! This was a pay to play event and only half of the people expected to my tour showed up. I am assuming the other half were still in bed with hangovers. I have a family! I have a life too, ya know. I am insulted!

Don't be insulted. If there were bloggers who didn't show up, it wasn't about you. They also paid to play and if they chose to waste their money by not being in attendance, don't let you being insulted stand in the way of giving your best to the wine bloggers who were in attendance. Those in attendance have families and lives, too and they were there in your winery and/or at your vineyard for you - because of you. So instead of you giving 100% to 30 people, hopefully you gave 200% to 15 people and once again, chances are pretty great the next time they hear the names, "Walla Walla" or "Washington State," they are going to remember your winery or your vineyard and/or your wine. If your group of wine bloggers left with a great experience because of you, then who really cares about the "no-shows?" It's ultimately their loss. Not yours.

Tweeting on Twitter is sad and lonely. Amongst all of the tweets during the Live Wine Tasting Event, I looked for some substance, but I just couldn't find any.

No, sitting at home on a couch with broken springs growing potato chip crumbs and cat hair around your fat ass (or bony ass) is lonely - even sadder if your t-shirt shows remnants of food you ate last week.

Twitter isn't sad and lonely and especially in the case of wine bloggers. Twitter brings people together with a common interest, like wine blogging, from all over the world. Eventually many will meet face-to-face. This is something that would never happen for many of us without the power of social media. Think of it as when we were kids and had pen pals assigned to us in school with the hopes of learning something new and maybe even meeting that individual some day. It was these new tools of social media that was one of the driving forces behind the wine blogger's conferences! Our neighboring community, the Tri-Cities has face-to-face Social Media Meetups that without the assistance of Twitter would have never had an opportunity to meet before. It is a tool for them to expand their community and networking.

Through the medium of Twitter, at least 200-some people "talked" about your wine and the majority of them have over a thousand of followers who read their tweets.

Substance? You want substance? It takes some thought to create "substance" when Twitter only gives you 140 characters (including spaces) to work with. But if you choose your characters well, you can type out names of wines and tinyurls that will give your followers something to make their inquiring minds want to check out. And while we are on the topic of "Substance" - - go peruse the wine aisles at the local grocery store and look at all of the labels. Do you see a lot of "substance" there? (Important note: excluding the Substance wine brand, of course. Those are very "substantial wines.") FWIW, I see a lot of frivolity, very little substance and whole lot of cheekiness on many of the labels, but people are still buying them.

Okay, so one can say I am trying to put a positive spin on some of the complaints. Of course! Steve Heimoff, in his keynote speech, told us to be transparent! But here's how I see it. Dig your tidy-whiteys out of a bunch and look at the big picture! So who cares about 15 wine bloggers that may not have acted the way you projected them to act. IT'S ABOUT THE BIG PICTURE HERE, PEOPLE!

Over 300 wine-loving-peeps were in Walla Walla and if you owned a winery or a vineyard it was all about YOU! Chances are very great many of the attendants would not have had a reason to come to Washington State and Walla Walla, when they did, if it weren't for this conference. There were at least 300 wine bloggers with thousands of readers who are going to talk about the wines from the state of Washington. Whether or not the wine bloggers tasted your wine or visited your vineyards, if they do happen to see your wine somewhere and it is marked Walla Walla or Washington State, they are going to remember the experience Walla Walla gave them. There's also a good chance your bottle of wine is going to end up on their dinner table or shared with friends.

In "another life" I worked for a small company that created a very nontraditional looking athletic shoe. The shoe had a sole that looked like it had been pressed out with a waffle iron and on the side of the shoe was an odd looking "swoosh" emblem. We sold shoes out of the trunks of our cars because there wasn't much of a sales facility, let alone offices. I was the small town young woman with only a junior wear buyer's and fashion merchandising background placed amongst a group of cigar smoking, rough talking, road traveling older men. What I learned from these men was sales, marketing and promotions, and most of all, make it positive. The bottom line: If you can get one person to pay attention, then two people will buy your shoes and eventually you could design your own "town"


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Happenings of a Wine Blogger's Conference: Walla Walla

Date: Fri, Jul 2, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

This is the third year for the North American Wine Bloggers Conference. I attended in 2009, last year in Santa Rosa on behalf of Napa/Sonoma and this year in Walla Walla on behalf of the Washington State.

The WBC09 in Santa Rosa was a wonderful experience packed full of first time meet-ups with wine bloggers I previously knew as only thumbnails on my Twitter board. There were visits to destination wineries and just the overall experience of the lovely Napa Valley, but in Walla Walla - - even for me as a resident wine blogger - - it was information overload and exuberance from the wine bloggers and the sponsors that I just didn't feel in Santa Rosa. There were times I was actually wishing I lived out-of-state to see Walla Walla (and Washington State) for the first time!

Okay, so I live in Walla Walla and how could I learn anything new? I decided to take the role of citizen wine blogger and keep my eyes, ears and mind open. Did I learn anything? I sure did. You know, you can put together the most comprehensive program of panel discussions, Q&A's, and tours, but if the people around you; whether they are bloggers or sponsors; are a bunch of boring slugs, you are going to be left with only half the experience. It's the enthusiasm from everyone that helps generate an inquiry to learn.

So - - what did you learn Catie? Well, I learned about important stuff and I learned about important fluff. (I actually wanted to do a Highlights of the WBC10, but I didn't want to be booed and heckled for doing another "Highlights ...")

I learned Pre-Conference Thursday night at "WBC10 or Bust Event":
Onion and fig pizza is a great pairing with Walla Walla Vintners Cabernet Franc. But then again, why should I be surprised? I could pair everything and anything with WWV Cab Franc.

Walla Walla Vintners, at the foothills of the Blue Mountains, is an idyllic setting and any minute I was waiting for them to que the deer and back screens for the technicolor sunset. Of course, I had been there several times, but the setting and the time of day was quite dazzling.

I was reminded about the hospitality of Walla Walla when Michael Davidson, CEO of Tourism Walla Walla and Elio Agostini, Executive Director of Downtown Walla Walla Foundation came to pick up the winners of The WBC10 or Bust bus and chauffeur them to their appointed B&B's.

Room 218 at the Marcus Whitman was the party place of the evening. Where Thea Dwelle goes, trouble follows ... (smoochies Thea!)

I learned on Friday, First Day of WBC10:
No matter in Santa Rosa or Walla Walla, radio heartthrobs Kaz and Randy of Wine Biz Radio in California can make me ramble on and on with or without a microphone in my face.

Taco truck tacos are a good thing for lunch after a morning of drinking wine. This was such a great idea to enjoy tacos and burritos in the parking lot instead of a sit down "banquet-style" meal. Welcome to Walla Walla ...

As one of the keynote speakers, Steve Heimoff, was honest, poignant, funny and most of all, left me feeling that I am a part of historical wine journalism - a pioneer.

Sitting through the Wine Blog Awards can actually be entertaining! What a show - from colorful lights, confetti, music, an ice carving, and MTV comic, Ben Morrison!

Never tell your audience during a panel discussion about the effects of RSS or you will be tagged as the Japanese Porn Queen for years to come.

When you cannot seem to log onto Twitter due to overload during the White Wine Live Blogging session, stop worrying. Just sit back, drink the wine and pretend to take notes.

Later that evening, again I was reminded what a wonderful downtown Walla Walla has. The Friday evening walk-about was electrifying with live bands, tasting rooms pouring their best and the sidewalks filled with wine bloggers discovering Walla Walla.

I learned on Saturday, Second Day of WBC10:
That the experience of sitting on a school bus hasn't changed much for me since I was a kid. I still couldn't see over the seats and my feet still do not reach the floor of the bus.

I got on a great bus for the day of touring (but then again, I think all of the buses were going to be great). Kevin Pogue, professor of geology at Whitman College, was our bus host. This was my first visit to Forgotten Hills, a vineyard that is now owned by Waters Winery. We had some extra time before our next stop, so Kevin took us to Cayuse to see the cobblestone vineyards.

Walla Walla Vintners ended up to be our appointed winery for panel discussions, a visit to the world-class Upland Vineyards and to do some wine tastings. We tasted wines from aMaurice, Leonetti, Tulpen and Walla Walla Vintners. Dr Myles Anderson from Walla Walla Vintners spoke to us about the vineyards and the soils. He is a wealth of information about the Walla Walla Valley and his eloquent way of speaking took me back to the days when I use to sit in his classroom. The difference between this visit and the classroom was that we didn't have Ken Hart of Tulpen rabble rouse from the back yelling, "bull shit!" at Dr. A whenever Dr. A said something profound about vineyards and winemaking. Those two should seriously take their show on the road.

Our destination winery lunch for our bus was at Cougar Crest. I learned that I need to have more of Debbie Hansen's 100% Grenache rosé. It was crisp and refreshing with notes of grapefuit, spice and creme brulee all rolled into one on my tongue. Quite lovely, I have to say Cougar Crest rose is another great example of why wine lovers must take advantage of these beautiful pink wines from Walla Walla.

Listening to my wine blogging collegues, it was interesting to see the Walla Walla terroir through their eyes. Walla Walla Valley could really be several AVA's from the unique soil and climate at the foothills of the Blue Mountains to the dry wheatland of the valley, and not forgetting the cobblestones of the old Walla Walla River beds.

During the Red Wine Live Blogging Session, it is important to have several glasses in front of you so you can "put aside" the Molly Dooker Velvet Glove Syrah, Long Shadow's Sequel Syrah, Cornerstone Napa Cabernet Franc and the Stoller Vineyards JV Estate Pinot Noir. These wines are just too good to dump or spit!

I already knew this, but I have to wonder if the other bloggers knew that the wooden platters their dinner was served on was carved by Chef Bear at the Marc. Not only is he a master of ice carvings, as we saw all throughout the conference, but wood as well! It was a sensual and decadent experience playing with my dessert of fresh cherries, Valrhona chocolate and whipped cream and quite perfectly paired with the 2006 Dauphine, an elegant Rhone-style Syrah from Nicholas Cole Cellars

My brain wanted to dance to the tunes during the After Hours Fiesta with Rias Baixas Albarino, but my body just couldn't muster up the strength to get down and jiggy wit' it.

I Learned on Sunday, the Third and Last Day of WBC10:
It was difficult to get up and later on Sunday morning I was thankful I stuck to the quiet Lobby Party of Bordeaux wines and Taco Time instead of going to the Charles Smith Frat Party with a live band and flaming-pasty-wearing-strippers, as well as free flowing mags of K-Vintners finest. Not to be outdone by the Hardy Wallace "Hardy Party" that was later visited by Walla Walla's finest "un gendarme." But what I wouldn't give to see a video of each party ...

My timing for breakfast was right, as the only person in line for the breakfast buffet, besides myself was Jeffrey Saad our morning keynote speaker and 2009 runner-up on season five of The Next Food Network Star. I was able to visit with him about his visit to Walla Walla. Later I sat in on his speech about food and wine pairings which concluded with our own opportunity to pair foods with an assortment of new and old world style wines.

If you attended the conference and took from it one or two pieces of information about the wine industry of Washington State and shared it with your readers, then WBC10 was a worthwhile experience, not only for the wine bloggers, but also for the Washington State wine industry.

Joel Vincent of the OpenWine Consortium, Allan Wright and Reno Walsh of Zephyr Adventures, Elizabeth Martin-Calder of Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, Ryan Pennington from Washington Wine Commission, Gracie Doyle from Ste Michelle Wine Estates and of course many other Premier, Media and Event Sponsors left us with an outstanding wine blogging conference that will be blogged and talked about for many years. Thank you everyone!

Thanks to Josh Wade of Drink Nectar for this great recap of WBC10!


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No man is an island: Wine Blogger's Conference - Walla Walla

Date: Mon, Jun 28, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

In the next few days I will be catching up on emails and deadlines; as well as catching up on hydrating, potassium and sleep. Throughout the week I will be blogging about the events of the weekend. At this moment I am overwhelmed with valuable information about the wine world, social media and even from my own valley - Walla Walla. Most of all, I am overwhelmed with spirit and friendship. It is the energy from the collaborative spirit and these friendships that I realize that I would not be where I am with my wine blogging, if it weren't for these valuable friendships. I have never been involved with a group of people before who could come together so quickly in the last three years through online social media tools and embrace each other face-to-face as if we had been long-time friends forever.

Friday afternoon I was privileged to be on a panel, Wine Blogging 101, with wine blogging collegues Joe Power from Another Wine Blog, and Colby Voohrees from Wine Peeps. The most important thing I shared with the group, or I can share with any beginning blogger is just three things: 1.) Find your voice. 2.) Be consistent and most important; 3.) Build community.

"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated...No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." John Donne, Priest, Poet, and Preacher - 1631


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Wine Bloggers Conference 2010: Follow Me in Walla Walla!

Date: Thu, Jun 24, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

The flowers are blooming all over downtown Walla Walla and even part of the new highway is done! We are about as ready as we can be for the 300+ wine bloggers, media and other members of the wine industry to converge on Walla Walla for the Wine Bloggers Conference 2010! To answer a few questions:

So, what exactly is a wine blogger's conference?

In Walla Walla it will be three-days of academic sessions, keynote speakers (Steve Heimoff, author and West Coast Editor for the Wine Enthusiast magazine and Lettie Teague, formerly with Food and Wine magazine and now the Wall Street Journal), winery and vineyard excursions, great food experiences, including a local taco truck tasting and a food and wine pairing with Chef Jeffrey Saad from the Food Network. And last, but not of course the very least, is lots of wine tasting! There are even pre and post excursions going on through the State of Washington so wine bloggers can see the best of Washington State wineries. Several buses are rolling in tonight. And let it be known this is the third annual conference in North America and the first to sell out early. They are taking planes, buses and automobiles to find out what Walla Walla and her wines are all about!

Where will we be seeing wine bloggers? Are they friendly and approachable?

They will be migrating at the Marcus Whitman Hotel and you will see them out and about Friday evening enjoying the sights and sounds of downtown Walla Walla at Main. You may see groups of 25 or more at the various wineries and vineyards on Saturday. And yes, wine bloggers are known to be very friendly and approachable. Just don't call them "blobbers, gadflies or poodles."

And what about the Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman?

I will be roaming around Walla Walla according to the WBC agenda along with the rest of the citizen wine bloggers. This will be a new experience for me as I am going to try my best not to view Walla Walla as my 'hood, but look at it as a new-comer to Walla Walla, like the rest of my blogging collegues.

To get an update on what is going on with the wine bloggers and me, you can check us out on Twitter. The majority of the wine bloggers will be Twittering every move. In fact, Friday and Saturday afternoons you will find us tasting wine and reporting live using Twitter and Facebook. I will be laptop-will-travel and if there is a access I will be online. To look for specific tweets from Twitter, look for #WBC10 (see special Twitter widget) and follow us!


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Women Who Wine: Road Trip to Walla Walla

Date: Wed, Jun 23, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

When Gail Garvie of Women Who Wine in the Tri-City area invited me on one of their road trips, of course I was ready to go!

I first became acquainted with this group, of course online. The Women Who Wine blog shares with their readers all of the fun tours and parties this active group enjoys from: art, food, road trips, chattering, and of course sipping great wines. And they go beyond the social aspects of wine, as a few of them have now become semi-winemakers with a little bit of help from their winery friends.

This fun day included a stop at Don Carlo Vineyard, Petit Noirs Chocolates, Va Piano Winery, Balboa Winery, Long Shadows Vintners and we even made a last minute detour to Saviah Cellars! So what did I learn? I learned that no matter where a "wild wine woman" comes from we all have many things in common: lots of laughter, chatter, we eat well and drink well and of course, - - shop well.

I also learned that Tim's Cascade Chips warmed up and sprinkled with parmesan cheese goes great with Don Carlo Vineyard Chardonnay. Together we learned that the only time to be happy with a larger shoe size is when it is made out of solid Petit Noirs Chocolate. I learned at Va Piano that their Bruno's White (Sauvignon Blanc) can give you a sunny disposition even on a wet rainy day. Something I had just learned was that Balboa Winery changed from screw caps to corks. Also, many thanks to Tom and Matt for their hospitality at Balboa Winery for setting up tables inside of their winery so we could have a dry picnic instead of a damp one.

We learned that Rich Funk at Saviah Cellars is prepared for anything even when two car loads full of women drop in on him unannounced yelling for Malbec. And last, but not least we learned at Long Shadows they had some new and very different styles of Rieslings soon to be released. Gilles and Denise were charming hosts, as always. Cheers!


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Women Wine Bloggers: Too Hot to Handle?

Date: Tue, Jun 22, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

The other day, Dr. Deb Harkness of the award winning wine blog, Good Wines Under $20 announced her newest project, A Discovery of Witches. This new book will debut from Viking Press in February 2011. It is a novel about an ages-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

Last summer at the wine blogging conference in Santa Rosa I finally got to meet and spend some time with Dr. Deb on one of our long bus excursions. Deborah Harkness is a Professor of History at the University of Southern California and is a historian of science and medicine from antiquity to the present. I first got acquainted with her online when she asked the big question on her blog as to why we only see male contributors at the Wine Spectator. It created a bit of a shake-up.

As I was reviewing some of her research she posted on the Discovery of Witches Facebook page, there was one comment she posted in regards to Bridget Bishop, a woman that was hanged on Gallows' Hill near Salem, MA in 1692 for the crime of witchcraft. It seems as if Bridget Bishop's crime was flaunting convention, wearing clothing that others didn't approve of and most of all, Bridget spoke her mind. Women who spoke their mind were perceived as dangerous women.

I commented to Dr. Deb that I was happy women wine bloggers weren't back in the time of witch burnings or many of us opinionated ones would be toast. She commented back to me that she thought a lot about me while she was writing it. Would I have been hung at the gallows or burnt at the stake for writing a wine blog?

In the 1960's and 1970's when the woman's movement was taking place, I was in junior high and never understood what the commotion was all about. Several years later, I looked back at this time and realized my father was way ahead of Betty Friedan, author and co-founder of National Organization for Women (NOW). He was one of the original "women libbers." There were no male or female "jobs" in our household when I was growing up. My father spent just as much time in the kitchen as my mother did. He believed that little girls could wear pretty Sunday school dresses and anchor a slimy worm on the end of a fish hook at the same time, and often he would be the one starching and ironing the frills of those pretty little Sunday dresses. When the youngest of my siblings were born, Dad changed his work hours to manage the household, so my mother could go back to college to get her teaching certificate. This was pretty "hip" when you considered our TV role models were Ward and June Cleaver. Ward came home from work and immediately sat to read the paper while June continued her work day until the last dirty dish was washed, dryed and put away. Most of all, I remember my father teaching my siblings and me to have opinions and speak them loudly, reminding us that nobody would do it for us and especially, as well.

When I first started blogging about wine, there were just a few women blogging away. In fact, I had that very discussion with Alice Feiring when I had the privilege of meeting her a couple of months ago. Like most of the wine industry, from media print to winemaking, it was definitely a man's world. Within a few years later, it has changed and it especially pleases me as I look through the list of the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference of participants and I see the many women who will be in attendance.

A special shout out to some of the women in the Northwest who have been known to get a little sassy and flaunt convention: Tamara Belgard, Barbara Evans, Melinda Knapp, Shona Milne and Margot Savell. For sure, you won't see them attached to any burning stake, as they are already too hot to handle! Ssss ...


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Reunions: Family and Wine Bloggers

Date: Mon, Jun 21, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

Today starts an exciting week for many wine bloggers around the nation and especially an exciting week for the Washington State wine industry. Most of all, it is a great week for the Walla Walla wine and hospitality industry because - - the Wine Bloggers are coming to town! The Wine Bloggers are coming to town! Over 300 lovers of the grape and the grape media will gather together as early as this Thursday in Walla Walla, Washington. They will soon discover that there really is a Walla Walla and it is more than a mythical name for cartoon character Bugs Bunny's door-to-door sales pitch repping for the "Wishy Washy Washing Machine Company of Walla Walla Washington."

This has been a morning of great pondering for me. I just said goodbye to my favorite brother (my only brother and who lives in the Nashville area) after spending a week with him and just returning from a weekend with other family members at our tri-annual reunion camp-out. And very soon I will be having another reunion this weekend with "old" wine blogging friends and hopefully meeting many "new" wine blogging friends who I may be in touch with everyday online, but haven't yet met face-to-face.

Last Friday morning before I packed the SUV with my mauve-colored tent, wine, sleeping bag, wine, air mattress, wine, artichoke tapendade, the "Squeaking Box" (aka Igloo ice chest with creaky sounding lid), a bottle of Cava, cheese, wine, a bag of licorice, and a fashionable new camping scarf for my little dog - - you know, all the important things one needs to survive in the wilderness; I took some time to catch-up on some of my favorite wine blogs before I went into the woods. (Lions and tigers and no Wi-Fi! Oh my!) I came across one read, that in my opinion was possibly what I felt, was diminishing other wine blog's styles and themes to bring attention to their own. Needless to say, I was disappointed and many of you know me all too well, that of course I wasn't going to leave without dropping my opinion off like a seagull in the sky. However, after reading many of the other comments later last night, I wanted to continue a rant, but I decided it was best that I rant on my own forum - my wine blog.

The wine blogger pointed out that most wine blogs do not pay enough attention to the average wine consumer and it was suggested that many blogs are written with the intent of attracting the audience of professional wine trade, wineries, and even other bloggers. There were feelings that some wine blogs are "guilty" of using sex, profanity, and even plagiarism as keys to their success. Gasp! Oh no! S-E-X! Please say it aint so! Or should I just say, "Yes please!"

Hmmm ... as I ponder. First of all, who says wine blogs should be limited to writing to an audience of "average" wine consumers? It may be true that many wine blogs do not pay enough attention to the average wine consumer, but then again - what and who is exactly - - well - - "average?" I don't think I like that term, "average wine consumer."

To me the beauty of a wine blog, or just blogs in general, is the different themes and approaches authored by the unique wine-loving personalities. The wine blogging community has taken the once stodgy and one dimensional attitude about wine into a subject that is finally approachable for the novice, as well as the professional. There are wine blogs written about social media, wineries, wine politics, specific regions, price ranges and winery tours to name a few. No theme or expression is deemed "better" than any other wine blog, especially if the wine blog has an audience.

I find it fascinating, and in fact embrace, that the blogging community has been able to take the subject of wine and make it more approachable whether they use sex, rock 'n roll, corny videos, sports or even satire. The point is, they are finding an audience who is interested in wine, no matter what style and verve they use. It would be awfully boring if we were just stamped cookie cutters of each other. For the most part, we have already seen that and been there with traditional print media. At this point of the growing wine industry, I would like to think that the wine blogging community has played a big part of that success, and especially with marketing and social media.

It was later pointed out that we won’t reach our financial potential as a group nor individually until we basically provide consistently "good" content that is of value to the wine consumer.

Regarding the later comment from the blogger about “financial potential as a group” I thought it rather odd and still trying to figure why now worry about “group,” when the original post seemed everything but being cohesive as a group by calling other wine bloggers out. And about our reaching financial potential: Hello! News flash! We are on the road to financial potential and within reach, if not already there. We have been scrutinized and criticized by traditional media and now the traditional media who has criticized us in the past has their own "blogs." Most of all, we are on our third North American wine blogger's conference with many traditional media and wineries gathering to see what we are all about. This just didn't get done over night or by one person alone, but by several wine blogging enthusiasts coming together to obtain success for one and for all.

And again, what the blogger may think as consistently “good” content may not be what some wine consumers view as good content. That’s been the point of wine blogging – to be able to be anything but the usual, stodgy and predictable. If there are wine blogs that want to talk sex and rock ‘n roll, smattered with profanity and they have built an audience of cursing-head banging-wine consuming-sex maniacs, then they are providing “good content” to their readers. If you want to talk "financial" the bottom line is the wine industry coffers do not recognize the difference between the puritan and stodgy wine consuming dollar from the extreme Sodom and Gomorrah profanity-screaching wine drinking dollar. The point is a dollar is a dollar no matter where it comes from, but what the wine coffers do recognize is growth - more dollars - more dollars from various genre of wine loving enthusiasts.

To be a successful wine blog, I think the three most important things are: find your voice, be consistent in your posting and most of all, build community. I am working on my sixth year of wine blogging and the first thing I learned was the importance of community. When I first started my wine blog I believe the count of wine bloggers were just at 350+ and I was immediately embraced by some of the best out there: Craig Camp, Deb Harkness, Lenn Thompson, and Joel Vincent to name a few ... and I certainly wasn't the "norm" as I was one of a few wine bloggers in the State of Washington and not too many wine lovers out there even knew Walla Walla was producing wine, let alone a real city.

Wine blogging is not a competition against other wine bloggers. Many of the awards and accolades we receive are often from our own wine blogging peers - - and there are certainly enough awards and accolades to give everybody their 15 minutes of fame, or even 30 minutes if you are lucky, without having to discount what other wine bloggers are doing or - - "not doing." It is not to say I am against self-promotion. I am not. If you've been a reader of my wine blog, then you know I am my biggest fan - my biggest self-promoter. I believe nobody can promote yourself better than you can. I would tell other wine bloggers to do their own "shameless self-promotion" but you can do it without comparing and down playing other wine bloggers and do it by standing on your own. And if you are really just writing for the "average" or the "not so average" wine consumer, then why care about what other wine bloggers are writing about if you are writing for the "average" or the "not so average" wine consumer and doing it well.

The wine blogging community that I will be with this coming weekend reminds me of my own family reunion I attended this last weekend. At the family reunion we celebrated promotions, vacations, new babies and even letterman jackets. Hand shakes, hugs and even bottles of wine were shared with familiar faces that we see maybe just once a year. Sure, there was certainly competition at my family reunion, but it was kept within friendly games of horse shoes, volleyball and auctions of heirloom quilts and bottles of wine.

As wine bloggers, we have already had enough poo thrown at us from traditional wine media and we sure as hell (Oops! There's that profanity...) don't need to give the poo-tossing-enemies snorts and giggles by tossing poo towards each other. That is surely the path to our own undoing and everything we have worked for - the freedom of our own opinions and our own unique wine blogging styles. And like the Wine Bloggers Conference 2009 in Santa Rosa and now the Fairchild Family Reunion 2010 at Mary Hill, no matter the miles we traveled, we all left with a feeling of community; learning something new and knowing that we are all in this together. Hopefully, this upcoming weekend we are going to again learn something new and leave with the knowledge that we are all in this together, no matter our styles and creative differences because we all have the same goal - sharing our enthusiasm.

See you all-a in Walla Walla!


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Wine Blobbers and Gadflies and Poodles! Oh My!

Date: Sat, Jun 12, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

That's right fair citizens of Walla Walla. Save yourselves! The wine bloggers are coming to town! The wine bloggers are coming to town! Women and children first and then every man for themselves!

How will you know them? Look for computer geeks who never look up from their iPhones and laptops. Oh wait - never mind. Everybody is doing that now days. So how's this description? Ye shall know them by their fruits. (What? You mean there were evil wine bloggers even back in the biblical times? Did they use stone tablets?) Also, look for purple stained teeth and orange Cheeto dust under their fingernails. Another clue is transit bus passes hanging from their car keyrings.

For even easier identification, many wine bloggers may be wearing t-shirts that are printed #IBlameParker. Sometimes winebloggers will wear t-shirts identifying themselves by which state they hail from. I Drink 2 Buck Chuck is often worn by many of the California wine bloggers. New York wine bloggers can be identified by We make wine, too! So there! and then our own Washington State wine bloggers can be seen wearing their t-shirts printed, More Than Just Walla Walla. With the exception of me. I can usually be identified by a t-shirt that's printed, Live Walla Walla or Die! (with apologies to the state of New Hampshire) or sometimes I glue real Walla Walla Sweet Onions on my shirts.

You may even find a cluster of :-( frownie-faced wine bloggers wearing t-shirts printed, "Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones ... Neener, Neener, Neener!" You see, in recent press wine bloggers are being called names. They have been called names by the Best, the Worst and the Hosers. BOO-HOO! The "Best" being Robert Parker of the Wine Advocate. He bravely referred to wine bloggers on his "ebob" forum as "blobbers" since we are "the source of much of the misinformation, distortion, and egegious falsehoods spread with reckless abandon on the internet…" But then again, us blobbers question that Parker really even said that. Robert Parker is a good guy - an epitome of a Norman Rockwell painting as we saw in the documentary Mondovino. I mean, he looked liked the kindly and wise, Ward Cleaver - everybody's favorite TV Dad. I personally think Mark Squire the ebob forum boy, is the one who was guilty of calling us names. I think he did it while Parker was out on a wine tasting junket around the world. Besides, Parker would never call us, "Blobbers." because it's too close to his own name - Bob!

Then the "Worst" came when Anthony Dias Blue of the Tasting Panel Magazine called the wine bloggers, "... bitter, carping gadflies who, as they stare into their computer screens and contemplate their dreary day jobs, let their resentment and sense of personal failure take shape as vicious attacks on the established critical media." Hmmm ... shortly after that announcement, Mr Dias Blue participated in a wine conference where he was a moderator for a panel regarding social media and how the internet - from blogs to Twitter - is a buzz (Buzzing like a carping gadfly? Buzz ... Buzzz ...) with new social media tools and techniques for reaching, informing and entertaining tomorrow's wine consumer. So does this mean, what I think it means? Dias Blue moderated a bitter and resentful group that stared into their computer screens wishing they were him?

Last, but not least, the "Hosers." Wine blogger, Ron Hasham, aka the Hosemaster of Wines referred to wine blogging as "attention-seeking barking of lonely poodles." Oh yeah? Well, at least we can be pretty poodles and be dyed the happy pastel colors of Easter eggs and wear cool diamond collars and - and - stuff and then hang-out with Doris Day for the - ummm - - day. Afterall, wasn't it Sigmund Freud (or maybe it was Caesar Millan?) who said, "Dogs love their friends and bite their enemies, quite unlike people, who are incapable of pure love and always have to mix love and hate."

Oh wait, now I get it! There's an order of "collective nouns" such as a covey of quails, a pod of whales, a gaggle of geese. That's what a collection of winebloggers are - a poodle of bloggers!

So as a Public Service Announcement to the kind people of Walla Walla: Load up on ice cubes and fire extinguishers. Remember, Steve McQueen talked his high school buds into stealing fire extinguishers to freeze the Blob until they could get a US Air Force jet to transport the Blob to the North Pole to keep it frozen infinity. Hold on, because it's going to be awhile before we get a US Air Force jet back in Walla Walla since the old Air Force barracks and hangars are now filled with wineries.

Also, don't forget the fly spray, fly swatters, several boxes of Poopy Pickup bags and bacon-flavored Beggin' Strips, because - -
the Wine Bloggers are coming to town!


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In Living Pink Color: TasteLive! Washington Rosé #WARose

Date: Fri, Jun 11, 2010 Wine Tasting Wine Business

Okay, so I will never become the next Kathryn Bigelow, let alone the next Oliver Stone or Martin Scorsese. Hey, it's fun to play with these toys! So give me a break. And speaking of toys, ignore the dog toys on the floor. You're suppose to be paying attention to the wine - the pretty pink wine.


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"Dimat" is a major Poker Book publisher, with a popular Poker Forum, which originated from the book Internet Texas Holdem, by Matthew Hilger. Internet Poker Rankings tracks the top online poker players. Poker Bonos Gratis was designed to bring Free Poker Gifts to the Spanish Speaking Market.