Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Double Back Home: Drew Bledsoe

It was football that took him away from his home town, but it was wine that made him double back.

When you are invited to an Inaugural Release and first Open House event for a wine by a former All-Star NFL quarterback in your minds eye there are visions of fans crowding a locker room, but this wasn't the case. The sunny afternoon in June was a friendly and casual atmosphere that allowed all of the guests time with the stars of the day and of course, all eyes were on the Doubleback Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - 2007.

Drew Bledsoe is a "hometown boy" that many of us in the Walla Walla Valley have kept an eye on. We watched him play football at Walla Walla High School and we continued to watch him during his three-year football career at Washington State University before he was drafted in 1993 by the New England Patriots.  As if we all had ownership in him, I can remember how the draft became a big discussion even in the local coffee shops, "Should our hometown star quarterback have continued to stay in college to get his education or was being drafted by the NFL the best choice for him?"  

Like many students in Eastern Washington, especially those attending WSU at Pullman, Drew's drink of choice wasn't wine, but that golden beverage that is often fermented with malted barley instead of grapes. It was in later years, after college, when Drew and his wife, Maura started ordering wine with dinner and discovered the fascinating  qualities in wine and even toured Napa Valley visiting with winemakers.  His passion for wine grew and at the same time he became fascinated by the tremendous growth of the wine industry back "home" - home being Walla Walla, of course.

In true Walla Walla fashion, we natives never seem to have a problem reconnecting with each other no matter where we live or what we are doing.  Kevin Bacon has nothing on us with his seven degrees of separation, because if you are from Walla Walla, we can connect within three degrees.  And that is exactly what happened with Drew Bledsoe and Chris Figgins, winemaker of Leonetti Cellar and  consultant/owner of Figgins Enological.  The two had grown up a "stones throw" away from each other and from their point of reconnection, it became a collaboration from dirt to bottle to form Doubleback.

In 2008, the McQueen Vineyard was planted in cabernet and merlot. The 52-acre partially planted vineyard is on top of a hill in the SeVien Vineyard project southwest of Milton-Freewater in the Walla Walla Valley AVA.  It was truly a family project as the Bledsoe children helped plant some of the vines. Compost tea and water practices are followed under the growing practices of VINEA, the Walla Walla Valley's wine grower's sustainable trust.  Doubleback is currently being made at Artifex Wine Company (a custom crush facility) in Walla Walla under the direction of Chris, with plans to build a winery on the McQueen Vineyard site in the near future, as well as completion of the vineyard. 

Inside of the high shouldered dark bottle of wine, with its elegant logo of silver and gold arches signifying the monogram of Doubleback, is a Walla Walla wine in true character - the finest character, as the 2007 vintage is a blend of older Cabernet Sauvingon vines from the Seven Hills and Pepper Bridge Vineyards. Only 600 cases were produced and each bottle is numbered. 

At first taste I knew the dark wine in my glass was going to be age worthy.  The nose was typical Walla Walla fruit with it's notes of rich earth, Autumn leaves, dark cherries with waves of cigar box.  Oh how I wished for a decanter, as I knew this wine was trying to tell me more than what it could being stifled in a glass. There was structure to the tannins, but harmonious allowing for the  dark fruit to show through.  Rich flavors of  cherries and plums were on the palate combined with a silky mouthfeel,  leaving a finish of cocoa and spice.  If possible, I would love to revisit this wine in another five years and of course, another five years after that - 10 years total.  If I know the Figgins style, this Cabernet will age gracefully.

So, as I refer back to the topic that had the locals buzzing about Drew leaving WSU at Pullman to latch onto a dream, that very few young men will ever realize.  I think Drew took the right path - and now with the realization of Doubleback, it is a path well taken.  I will be looking forward to future releases. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

20 Something Wine Drinkers

In December I happened to run across this site, 20 Something Bloggers,  so I marked it hoping to get back to it someday and blog about it.  It was a very impressive and organized collection of bloggers. Oh sure, there are a few idyllic 20-Something bloggers who are convinced that world peace will come if everybody sits down at the same time with a cupcake.  However, I can't be too critical of those feelings, after all there were many of us from the "Pepsi Generation" who thought "We could teach the world to sing in perfect harmony ... All standing hand in hand (and with a bottle of Coca~Cola) and hear them echo through the hills for peace throughout the land?"

Today's 20 Something wine drinkers are not your typical young drinkers, anymore.  They are not at all like us Boomers who drank right out of the bottles of Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill while passing it around to be shared at a concert or if you were  fortunate enough to hitch hike through Europe you might buy a cheap bottle of Côt and feel as if you were really "continental" and sophisticated.  How do I know about how Boomer's drank wine, well I didn't hang onto my suede fringed purse with the brass studded peace symbol on it for nothing.  Nor are today's 20 Something's like the young drinkers of the 1980's who were swooned over to drink plastic liters of citrus "wine" featuring polar bears wearing sun glasses on the labels and advertisements.  For the most part, today young wine drinkers are sophisticated and well read about wines, and even "retro" cocktails.  They are actually thinking about the Riedel glass specials on Amazon.com.  No bottle swigging for them.

Oh sure, you still have a cluster of 20 Somethings who are drinking the Barefoot label and no doubt is swayed by the pretty pink wine labels marked "Bitch" and "Hello Kitty,"  but they are thinking about wine.  They are reading wine blogs and downloading wine apps for their "Berries, Pods, and Droids - Oh my!"  Wine "country" areas are popping up in just about every state of the nation and wine appreciation classes are being taught in our colleges.  The student who may have been swayed by a Carlo Rossi jug-o-wine spritzer at a Greek party will soon become bored and want to expand his or her palate. 

My last couple of years spent pouring wine in a tasting room, I finally nailed down my favorite group of wine consumers.  It was the students from our four-year liberal arts college and the students visiting on holiday break.  They were thoughtful and open minded. They didn't have tight-assed preconceived notions about "white wines or off-dry wines" like some of their parents.  They were adventuresome, asked the best questions and at the same time contributed to conversation about the wine, either in front of them, or about the world. 

After the wine blogger conference, wine bloggers, winemakers and marketing directors asked the same question, "Is social media measurable?"  Well, how do we track print media?  Sure, we are told by magazines and newspapers about their subscription numbers, but there are no guarantees  the reader is going to read your ad, unless the ad is in a specialized magazine.  Even then, with pages and pages of clustered advertising, it doesn't guarantee your ad will be the focus unless it is a full page ad.  You can measure print media with coupons, but again coupons are often specific with expirations and require "work."  Someone has to really be inspired to clip your coupon and make a special trip to your winery before the expiration date.   

Generation Y represents an average of births from the late 1970's through the 1980's and early 1990's.  They were the first generation to grow up with the Internet and are marked by the increased use and familiarity with communication and media technology - there is no stopping them. Social media may not be "measurable" at this time, but you are already behind your measuring stick if you aren't participating to some degree.  Honestly?  We don't have time to worry if social media is measurable.  Social media and a new generation of wine buyers are growing and growing up. A study done by PR firm of Burson-Marstellera found 79 percent of the largest 100 companies in the Fortune Global 500 index are using at least one of the popular social media platforms to communicate with their customers and other stakeholders.

If you are a winery or a wine store - say hello, or more like tweet and text, to your new customers, especially as their incomes advance.  They aren't being referred to as the "Net Generation" for nothing.   Then be prepared - - by the time your winery is meeting the social marketing needs of GenY, say hello to GenZ.  We have to keep thinking ahead and have to grow in our marketing as our generations grow of drinking age.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Malbec Love: Watermill Winery Estate Malbec - 2007

Malbec, malbec candlelight
Doin' the town and doin' it right
In the evenin'
It's pretty pleasin'
(With apologies to Muscrat Love sung by America)

Malbec has become one of those grapes that when I see it at a winery, I get very excited  and immediately have to taste.  This dark inky grape has a long history and known as one of the six grapes allowed in the blend of red Bordeaux wines.  These French vineyards are found in Cahors which is in the South West region of France.  Known as Malbec in Bordeaux, it is also referred to as Auxerrois or Côt Noir in Cahors and Pressac in other areas.  

Unfortunately, Malbec lost its popularity  in Bordeaux when a  frost killed off 75% of the crop in 1956. It was later replanted, but as the acreage of Malbec was declining in France, in Argentina it was quite the opposite.  Malbec in Argentina became a  "national variety" and is identified now with Argentinian wines.  The success of Malbec in Argentina led some wine producers in neighboring Chile to try their hand at this unique varietal, as well. 

Trivia:  Did you know that the McClellan Family at Seven Hills Winery in Walla Walla planted the first Malbec vines in the area in the late 1990's at the Windrow Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley AVA (located at OR/WA Border and now owned by Tero Estates Winery)?   Which brings me full circle from Malbec in Bordeaux back to the Walla Walla AVA at the OR/WA Border. 

Watermill Winery, located at the old Watermill Building, is one of the first wineries in Milton-Freewater, Oregon and of course, located in the Walla Walla AVA.  This winery is no stranger to agriculture or to the area.  In the 1950's the Brown Family planted orchards and three generations later, they are producing premium apples, award winning cider and now award winning wines.  It's only a natural that one of their finest wines is a Malbec, considering the rich history of the vineyards they use for this exquisite dark and inky varietal. 

Watermill Estate Malbec - 2007  started its roots at the McClellan Estate and Watermill Estate Vineyards.  The McClellan Estate vineyard, planted by the Brown family in 2003, sits adjacent to Seven Hills Vineyard and borders the acclaimed Windrow Vineyard.  And even more interesting is the Watermill Estate Vineyard, planted in 2006,  is located in the immediate vicinity of famed Cayuse Winery.  The site for this vineyard was selected due to the well drained and rocky soil. 

Okay - okay, so how does it taste?  Well first of all, the nose made me very happy.  Laugh at me if you will, but to me a good Malbec must smell like grape jelly on graham crackers. It's that memory that takes me back to my childhood.  It was one of those childhood treats my grandmother would give us while spending time at the grandparents small farm on School Avenue in Walla Walla.  Of course, the grape jelly was never the commercial stuff, but made by my grandmother from the grapes she grew in her backyard - local Walla Walla fruit. 

The wine filled my mouth with inky black liquid.  It was supple and full of dark brambleberries, ripe cherries, plums and espresso with notes of milk chocolate.  It was really quite a lucscious wine.  The tannins were visible, but didn't get in the way of the fruit.   There is a reason why it received a Double Gold at the 2010 Seattle Wine Awards.

So how would I pair the Watermill Estate Malbec?  Well, I would definitely look to Argentina for advice.  Pair it with spice!  Something "beefy" and spicy - from a grilled adobo flank steak with a fresh summer salad of tomatoes and grilled corn or even something simple like a carne asada taco - - or don't pair it at all.  Just pour a glass and enjoy it while revisiting old memories of grandma and grandpa's little farm ...

And they whirled and they twirled and they tangoed
Singin' and jingin' the jango
Floatin' like the heavens above
It looks like malbec love

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I Want to Be a Wine Blogger When I Grow Up.

It is very doubtful the GenY, GenX and the Boomer generations of wine lovers ever said, "I want to be a wine blogger when I grow up."  

My friend and wine blogging pal, Thea Dwelle of Luscious Lushes got me to thinking about this the other day after she posted the questions,  "Are writers bloggers? Are bloggers writers? Are we the same? Are we different? Should we play by the same rules? What’s going on here?"

Right.  What exactly is going on here?  I started this blog in 2005 and far too many times I  wouldn't talk about it in usual conversations or if someone mentioned my hobby to others, I usually brushed it off, while trying to change the subject.  The idea of wine blogging was just too hard to explain and too many times I was patronized with, "Oh isn't that cute, she writes about wines from Washington DC."  However, things have changed.  I no longer hide my hobby.  I am really proud of what it is and who wine bloggers are. 

Sometimes the public, members of the wine industry, and even wine writers  have looked at wine bloggers as if we were from another world. I especially noticed it at the Wine Bloggers Conference 2009 in Santa Rosa, CA.  There seemed to be several small groups of marketing people who followed some of us around and were quite captivated with the "care and feeding" of wine bloggers. 

Wine blogging is nothing new, but it has certainly evolved.  I'd like to think Robert M. Parker, Jr. as the first wine blogger.  He was an independent who wrote his own "wine consumer guide" and by 1978 he was sending his thoughts about wine via snail mail.  I can see him in my mind's eye now drafting his notes on a yellow legal pad from his law office and finalizing his notes on an old typewriter. 

If Parker would have started his quest to share his wine notes with others during the rise in technology, there would have been advantages to him such as digital communities such as Usenet and BBS (Bulletin Board Systems).  In many ways, these new online services were the earliest form of blogs with their continuing "threads" of single topics.  

Early blogs in the 1990's were really nothing but manually updated diaries or information on standard websites and weren't even referred to as "blogs."   It was later when we saw a unique class of online publishing software that produces the blogs we recognize today. 

So as the number of wine bloggers have grown and we are now holding our own conferences, seminars and being included on lists of media passes at wine events, we are now being scrutinized under the microscope by traditional wine media and even the wine industry.  Sure, we have been criticized by traditional wine media and even traditional media who now have their own wine blogs who will blog parental-type messages to us, "Don't do as I do.  Do as I say." 

In the mean time, wine bloggers are crying like a cheerleader who lost her pom-poms to the football team (if you know what I mean), "Please love me!  Please let me fit in your world oh great King of Wine Media."  And at the same time, we have traditional wine media calling us names such as, "Blobbers, Carping Gadflies and Butt Sniffing Poodles," while they are busy writing their own "new" wine blogs on their mountain tops they have built for themselves and even teaching seminars on wine blogging and social media. Then comes the buffers and the coaches.  They want to wave their magic wand over the wine bloggers and announce, "Ta-Daahh! You are now all wine writers instead of wine bloggers.  You can now enter the kingdom of wine media and go throughout the land feeling better about yourselves."

Here is what I know.  Here is what I was taught when I was a youngster dreaming about being a grade school music teacher and a book author when I grew up: I was taught when someone feels threatened and threatened beyond reason, they resort to name calling (Blobbers, Carping Gadflies, and Butt Sniffing Poodles) and in any kind of a fight or debate, when you resort to name calling, then you have lost the debate.  

As I wrote to Thea in her comment section, in this whole discussion of writer v. blogger, here are two things that I know of as being true for me when I sit down at my computer to write about wine:

When I send an invoice to a publisher and later receive a check in the mail, then and only then, I am a wine writer. When I write about wine during my free and personal time on my blog format with no assistance from an editor, then I am a blogger. Frankly? I am tired of everyone trying to gloss over the term “wine blogger” by trying to make it respectable in the eyes of traditional media. Who gives a flying f ... umm - - fig? Why do we care, especially when we see traditional wine media jumping on the wine blogging bandwagon?  We, as wine bloggers, must be doing something right.  

I am proud to be a wine blogger and the day we all gain that sense of pride and realize the milestones we have made and the crap we have overcome, the better off wine bloggers and the name "wine bloggers" will be.

It is possible though, that someday when we all get this new form of wine media figured out and what direction and the importance wine blogging has in today's wine media, there will be some enthusiastic teen ager with a gift for writing that will someday say, "I want to be a wine blogger when I grow up."
 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summertime and Summer Wines: Cougar Crest Winery

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 Hansen was one 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. The floral notes of orange blossom and honeysuckle come through in the Cougar Crest Viognier, along with notes of stone fruit 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 a plate 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 wonderful rosés 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 tomatoes  and 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. 


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

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

The old U.S. Highway 12 may be tucked, plucked, widened and realigned, but the new highway's "cosmetic surgery" is causing problems for wineries. There isn't going to be any GPS that will find these wineries for quite some time.  Where did they all go? 

This new eight-miles of blacktop and intersections, that opened the 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 there are 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 Highway 12 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 highway just before the change and redirection to where the new highway begins (or ends if you are traveling 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, especially to Skylite Cellars, along the old highway at 25 Campbell Road has been blocked to traffic traveling from the east and the west.  However, the connection from the new highway to the old portion has not been completed at this time. Vicki Hillhouse of the Walla Walla Union Bulletin contacted the Washington State Department of Transportation  and they commented they are working with the affected wineries to provide signage and redirect traffic to their businesses. WSDOT has also commented that the lack of access is expected to be temporary while these new connections 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 from  Vicki Hillhouse at Walla Walla Union Bulletin

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Bits & Pieces: WBC10 in Walla Walla

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 media has often been the first 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 industry watches the wine blogging numbers 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.  

Friday, July 09, 2010

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

It's not too often you just happen to look up and see a very familiar, yet out-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 at a hotel breakfast buffet line,  gathering some fruit and scrambled eggs on my plate when  Chef Jeffrey Saad,  the runner-up on 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 speaker for 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 with drink and food at jimgermanbar in Waitsburg. Once in Walla 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 have a quiet breakfast alone, but I would definitely make sure I attended his seminar. 

Jeffrey is even better in person than on TV.  You really get to experience 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 is the gatekeeper with the important balance and understanding of the following: acid, sweet, salty, alcohol, fat and spice.  However, it is the nose where 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.  While I am not a fan of ketchup, I totally understand why 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 the acidity 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, while bringing out the fruity notes in 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 in wine 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 as Bubbles (Champagne, Cava and Prosecco) or off-dry whites, such as a 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 are accelerated. My favorite with curry entrees, chicken fajitas or 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 are safe with most 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 leaving the wine flat.  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 lovers can 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 will pair 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-dry pretty pink wine will go well with almost anything. There is enough acid to match the acid in a Caesar romaine salad, while enough 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 suggested his 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!" 

Thursday, July 08, 2010

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

Live Wine Blogging is a 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 about his/her wine. Bloggers taste the wine while 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 popular event that  the organizers changed the one-time session into a 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 so bloggers 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 people that they may not had the opportunity to show off their wines before. If the wine blogger likes the wine they are tasting, more than likely they will  pay attention to the winery in the future.  And speaking for myself, when I attended WBC09 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," but I read several positive tweets regarding:  Caleb Foster of Buty Winery scored big with his blend of Sémillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle. You don't see a lot of Muscadelle around, especially in Washington State. 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's  Ramblin' 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 poured their Sangiovese 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 you immediately decide you are not going  to like even before giving it a chance of a sip.  The labels from MollyDooker are over the top (They must be over compensating on the labels because the wine is either 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 I grabbed another glass for the next wine to be poured.  I wanted to savor the nose of  violet 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 and bramble 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 Red Blend (Walla Walla, WA)
2008 CornerStone Cabernet Franc (Napa Valley, CA)
2007 Stoller Vineyards JV Estate Pinot Noir (Willamette, OR)

Sunday, July 04, 2010

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

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"

Friday, July 02, 2010

Happenings of a Wine Blogger's Conference: Walla Walla

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!