In this day and age of the internet and social media, people often want advice and opinions from people they know. There certainly is some value in educating oneself with information from experts but there also is value in hearing what those you know and trust have to say.
The internet is the main way many get their news. If a question arises, typically people plug it into their smart phone and do a search to obtain an answer. Encyclopedias are things of the past. No longer do you have to go to the library and do a search of the card catalog to find sources for information. Now you just switch on your computer or type something into your mobile device to immediately gain access to a plethora of information including traditional media sources and blogs.
Don’t get me wrong, traditional media sources still have their place and when it comes to wine, print journalists and other experts can provide a font of information based on their training, background and experience which should not be discounted but instead supplemented by blogs. Wine blogs provide interesting and useful perspectives and in my opinion serve different needs than traditional print media.
I have been a lover of wine for years having grown up around it. My father’s side of the family is Italian and as long as I can remember my parents drank wine. During my junior year abroad in Italy I began to educate myself about wine and also began enjoying it myself. As my interest in wine grew, I began to attend wine events to expose myself to different wine varietals and wine regions. This lead to friends asking my advice on what wine to drink and to buy and what wine events to attend which then evolved into my blog. I am not a trained wine expert or a trained writer but instead a self taught wine aficionado meaning I enjoy drinking, learning and talking about wine.
I love supplementing my knowledge of wine with information from all kinds of sources and then sharing what I learn and find interesting with others on Twitter, Facebook & my blog so I was quite excited when the opportunity arose to check out and attend the Wine Bloggers conference or what I call wine camp.
I grew up going to sleep away camp sharing a cabin with other girls, doing arts and crafts and other fun camp activities. As an adult, I once went to tennis camp sharing a dorm room on a college campus with a friend and honing the skills of my tennis game over the course of a weekend. I had a great time and improved my tennis game so when the opportunity to spend a weekend at “wine camp” with other wine lovers came up, I jumped at the chance. My husband was unable to take off of work and while he loves wine, he was not really interested in attending an organized wine conference so I decided to attend on my own. In the true spirit of camp and also to keep costs down, I found a roommate. My roommate Sara also known as Somm In the City, turned out to be an amazing fun person and since she was from New York & I am from San Francisco sharing a room worked out well because we knew different people and were able to help each other network. We stayed at the Marriott in Santa Ynez Valley so unlike camp, there was no roughing it involved and thanks goodness no terrible camp food either, but instead gourmet food and wine.
365 wine bloggers, winery representatives, PR folks and wine makers were a part of the Wine Bloggers conference in Buellton and as you can imagine there was no shortage of wine or food. The conference included lectures, break out sessions, wine tasting, winery visits and lots and lots of networking and wine. Instead of arts and crafts there was speed tasting where over the course of an hour wineries were given 5 minutes to explain and share their wine and participants had the chance to taste and tweet about them. The camp field trip involved being loaded onto buses to visit wineries or in my case a visit to Solvang where our group was able to see the town, visit some of tasting rooms and then have dinner at a great restaurant called Cecco Ristorante while talking and tasting wine with some of the areas talented winemakers including Megan McGrath Gates from Lucas & Lewellen and wine grower Lucas Lewellen and Jennifer Arant of Lions Peak. There were no after hours panty raids but instead after hour parties with lots of wine.
The Wine Bloggers Conference provided the opportunity to meet in real life many people who I interact with on social media. I found it most interesting to see the variety in the background of the attendees. In attendance were men and women, both married and single, gay and straight and the ages ranged from folks in their mid-twenties to folks in their late 60′s. Though primarily white, there were Asians, African Americans and Hispanics in attendance demonstrating that wine crosses all boundaries.
It was quite interesting to see the different approaches various bloggers take in their coverage of wine. Some focus on specific states or regions, others on specific varietals, some focus on inexpensive wines and others only high end wines. That in my opinion is the beauty of wine blogs, no two are exactly alike because each one is written from the perspective of its author. Unlike professional journalists, bloggers are typically not trained writers and instead people who love wine and want to share that love with others. While some blogs can use help with their grammar or format and some are slicker than others, what all wine bloggers share is a love and appreciation of wine and a desire to share that love with others.
Wine is meant to be shared and enjoyed by regular people, bloggers are regular people sharing their love of wine with others and that is why wine blogs matter! And speaking of wine, if you have the chance, I highly recommend you check out the wines of Santa Barbara County!
Tags: Buellton, Cecco Ristorante, Hitching Post, Jennifer Arant, Lions Peak, Lucas & Lewellen, Marriott Santa Ynez, Megan McGrath Gates, Santa Barbara County Vintners, Solvang, Somm In the City, Wine Bloggers Conference