Just the Bottle

One woman's adventure in beer, food, wine and spirits

Filtering by Category: Wine Bloggers Conference

Thank you for being a friend!

Wine Bloggers Conference has been rocking it out since 2008. It's an important opportunity to not only learn from various sessions, visit and explore wine areas, as well as network with wine industry colleagues and friends. The conference would not be possible without sponsors. In addition to that, some such as myself would have never enjoyed the benefit without attending without sponsors of the Wine Bloggers Scholarship Fund.

A lucky few of us, received scholarships in 2017 through the generous support of Rodney Strong, Ethnifacts, Avero Buzz, and individual donors. 

 Rodney Strong Vineyards is a power house in the wine world. In 2013, Wine Enthusiast named them American Winery of the Year. Besides their generosity in regards to the Wine Bloggers Conference, they are also involved with the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts and CORE (Children of Restaurant Employees), which provides support to children and families of restaurant employees who are experiencing or afflicted by life-altering circumstances.

Avero Buzz is an exciting online platform by restaurant owners for restaurant owners to help hospitality leaders make the best decisions for their businesses and their guests. They are also making the world a better place by supporting the next generation of culinary leaders, addressing childhood hunger, supporting the fight against cancer and more.

EthniFacts is all about using data to better inform decisions and avoid out dated assumptions. They have worked with famous wine brands such as E&J Gallow along with other industries. 

I know myself I gained a wealth of knowledge from the experience and I am sure the other scholarship recipients feel the same way. I hope others are able to join in Walla Walla in 2018 through the generosity of these sponsors. 

Live a little more!

During the Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Rosa last year, there were two post conference excursions to choose from - Napa and Livermore. Both seemed like great options, but Livermore intrigued me. I didn't know much about the area, the wine, or the history. I went with Livermore and returned to DC with love for a new part of California.

As we departed Santa Rosa on a gloomy day after our conference concluded, we were greeted by an amazing team from Livermore Valley who along with serving us sparkling wine promised us sunshine, wine and a non pretentious, but informative wine trip. As we drove past Oakland and San Francisco, the clouds gradually melted away.

We entered a world that is growing in reputation as a place to visit for so many things like wine, food and even ice cream.  Every winery we visited had great value wines along with a unique story or passion that drove the owners or winemakers. One winemaker I met, shared how he was previously in construction and kept getting laid off from jobs or the pay would be sporadic. This spurred him to pursue a degree in oenology, and follow his dream. Another winery owner shared how she had been a pilot with an airline that went under. She decided she would rather be closer to her family and be in control of her own destiny.

These stories of work and determination led to a very genuine and thoughtful experience. Even though this was my first trip to California, I felt as if I were visiting home. Every person greeted me or treated me as more of a family guest as opposed to a tourist. 

If you are planning a California adventure especially one with wine, I would strongly urge you to visit Livermore Valley area. The wines and people have a story to share and it's one worth getting to know.

California Dreaming

I discovered the #winelover community through an ambassador who spoke highly of the group. There's a blog, hashtag on Twitter, but most of the online conversation occurs in a public Facebook page. It serves as a jumping off point for many when it comes to travel, sharing their love of wine, or asking questions. Besides the online discussion, they also organize various trips. I was lucky enough to go the Athens trip a couple years ago and met Tomilsav. Once I knew he was planning a special #winelover trip and conference on an indigenous Serbian variety, Prokupac, I was SOLD. Luckily, I have my special fella who loves wine and travel as much if not more than me. He was on board this time so I had someone else to participate in my silliness and adventures.

The #winelover trip always opens with a special BYOB dinner. This dinner is designed for us to bring something special and share it with others before we truly begin our trip within the region. Last time, I brought Chester Gap Cellars from Virginia. Many of the other #winelover-s are located within Europe and were quite surprised and astounded by a Virginia wine. However, before this trip I was torn. What do I bring as something special this trip?

Before we left, I stopped by Zachys DC location with the fella as he had purchased some wine from one of their recent tasting experiences. While there I talked with Tim about our desire to bring something special and being at a loss for ideas and time. He said, "why not a Napa or  Sonoma wine?" Zachys has set themselves apart by hosting a California Strong Initiative with the goal of raising $25,000 to be distributed equally among three initiatives. It was like a light went off.  We bought two California wines to the BYOB dinner Hirsch Vineyards Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast San Adreas Fault 2014 and Matthiasson Chardonnay.

Both wines were a huge hit as I also included why I brought them and why people should care about #SonomaStrong and #NapaStrong. A new friend who runs Wines of Balkans tweeted out the Hirsch wine and encouraged people to buy and donate to various charities.

I was so excited to see that I'll have the opportunity again to taste Matthiasson during the Wine Bloggers Conference as part of the live wine blogging experience. I'm looking forward to chatting with them to learn more about their wines and sharing the love I experienced for their wine while in Serbia.

I've only been home about two weeks, but I'm ready to get back on that plane (not really, but Xanax helps) and learn more about honing my writing, networking, and sharing the Napa and Sonoma love.