Episode 137: Wine Bloggers Conference Recap and Giving Thanks

Episode 137: Wine Bloggers Conference Recap and Giving Thanks

We’re back with a recap of the 2017 Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Rosa, CA. From nuggets of knowledge to tasting and tours, and … did they say, “wine made with weed?” Yes, yes they did … we’re all abuzz (ha ha) with new friends from the wonderful world of wine blogging. Also on deck are so many shout-outs, as well as a tease of interviews to come. Since this episode will air on Thanksgiving Day, we’re sending out holiday wishes and a nod to favorite dishes. Happy Turkey Day and we hope there’s something delish in your glass!

In Our Glasses

Val’s Pinot Noir from Burgundy – ready for the Thanksgiving table … or mid-afternoon recording.

Steph’s wine & Sasha, who was visiting for a few days. Sasha delayed recording due to … err… the need to open a window. Good girl, Sasha!

Steph: 2012 Luzia de Ripa an Arabako Txakolina from Spain produced by Arzabro Txakolina. The grapes are 80-90% Hondarrabi Zuri and 10-20% Izpiriotza Txipia (Petit Manseng) and the subregion the wine comes from is Alava, one of the three Txakoli producing areas in the Basque region. Alava is on the far north western edge of Spain.

Val: Aurélien Verdet, 2014, Morey-Saint-Denis, Côtes de Nuits (Bourgogne) France. This is a lovely Burgundy that was reminiscent with new world style with respect to prominent cherry fruit up front, but there was spice and sandalwood that reminded Val of her time sniffing around The Body Shop’s oil section in Picadilly Circus 25 years ago. It’s about a $38 bottle, depending on market.


#WBC17 Rewind and Recap

Steph “interviews” Val about the conference and the state/feeling post wildfires. Then we have a friendly chat about what we are both doing and drinking for Thanksgiving.

Wine Bloggers Conference

S: Val, what was your overall experience like at the Wine Bloggers Conference and how does it compare with other industry events?

V: While I don’t consider myself “industry” outside the educator realm (meaning I’m not primarily in sales or hospitality), I don’t attend a lot of industry events. The focus was certainly different compared to the Society of Wine Educators (my favorite time of the year) conference, but it was still educational. It was different than the conference we attended earlier this year for podcasters, too. I appreciate the broader perspective attending a variety of conferences brings to what we do, and particularly the networking.

Overall, there was a great blend of wine education, writing and media focus, and plenty of time for socializing with all segments of the industry. It was a nicely done, balanced event. Meeting so many people I’ve only interacted with online, either through my blogging past, podcasting present, and on social media was the absolutely best part!

Highlights: Wine Friends in Beer Places

Beers with these guys at Russian River Valley Brewing Company

S: Give us highlights and also share your cannabis wine experience.

V: The interviews and the people I met were the highlights, so we’ll get to those in a minute and in future episodes. First, I was absolutely chuffed to bits to meet Andrea Robinson, MS. She was one of my first “wine professional” influences from way back when she was Andrea Immer-Robinson. There were a few shows that she hosted, “Simply Wine” and  “Great Pairings” on Fine Living Network, and I still make her veggie soup recipe as a favorite winter rescue meal. Her book is also one that I advise beginners to turn to when they are first learning to taste wine. Some of my early impressions about styles and pairings were because of her, and she was super cool to chat with.

Speaking of interesting people – I got to hang out and drink beer with the We Like Drinking dudes! I’ve only met the one Jeff (E.) and Jim (come back, Jim!) but never met the other Jeff (S.). John wasn’t there, but am pretty sure both Jeffs made up for it. By the way, both Jeffs have been guests on this show!


V: As for the Marijuana-infused beverage – I did not swallow.

Scenes from the live red wine blogging session.

Rebel Coast Marijuana Wine Tasting










The dudes from Rebel Coast winery were the first to hit our table during what’s known as “Live Wine Blogging.” If you’ve ever done “speed networking” it’s kind of like that. For one hour, winemakers rotate through the tables and present a wine. Bloggers are charged with either taking notes for later release or “social-media-ing” the crap out of what they are tasting. I chose to Instagram one or two, but found tweeting easier by the second day.

As for the “weed wine”, it was very pungent and herbal, not just because it’s dry-hopped with pot, but also because it’s a de-alcoholized Sauvignon Blanc. I have to say, it wasn’t my thing, but these guys were definitely fun to meet. It was good to have the opportunity to interact with so many interesting folks during this “wine speed-dating” session.

White & Rose Live Wine Blogging

Wildfire Panels

S: Tell us what you saw and heard regarding the October wildfires.

V: There were two wildfire panels that gave us insight into the fires and facts. The first featured a well-known Sonoma County photographer, George Rose, Patsy McGaughy of Napa Valley Vinters, and Pierre Bierbent, the winemaker from Signorello Estates, a winery that was lost in the fires. The second came from a journalism perspective with a panel comprised of Wine Enthusiast Writer Virginie Boone, Journalist Sarah Stierch, and Photographer George Rose. Several members of the panel walked us through the sequence of events beginning with the windy evening of October 8th, the escalation of the disastrous toll the fire was rapidly taking on neighborhoods and structures.

One of the big takeaways for people in media to remember is that you don’t have to be “first” by putting out ill-researched or unconfirmed information. Please use restraint, check facts, and avoid speculation. Also, there was heavy emphasis on how “disaster tourism” is in such pour taste! Please try to avoid “touring” the burned out residential areas, and respect that over 1000 people have to rebuild their home lives.

Now is the time to focus on recovery. Buy wine from Napa, Sonoma, Lake, and Mendocino counties – all affected by this multi-fire crisis. A great resource for helping: https://www.northbayfiredonations.com/

Future Episodes from Val’s Time at #WBC17

S: Who did you interview in person and what exciting material can our listeners anticipate in future episodes?

V: OK, I’m just over the moon about this interview with a Master of Wine that we’ve been trying to get on the show for a while. Sunday I drove out to Napa and sat down with one of the, I believe, most interesting and influential educators in the industry. He wasn’t part of the WBC, but this was still one of the highlights of my trip out there – and I’m going to keep it a surprise until it’s released.

Another fabulous interview is with Cassidy Havens of Alsace Wines – so that one is being edited right now.

Other interviews are with federal workers & fellow vets turned Pinot growers, who actually hosted my visit! Bonny and Clark, friends of the fabulous Jen G., were so generous in letting me hang out in their cottage in the vines. We had some ridiculous meals together at Hansel’s and Sea, and they poured some of the Siduri Single Vineyard Pinot from the Betty Ann Vineyard (right outside my cottage window. Seriously.), and chatted with me about their pursuit of the wine country lifestyle. I think I’m going to call it, “From inside the beltway, to outside in the vines” – or something like that.

See You Next Year?

S: When and where is the conference next year?

V: Walla Walla, WA October 4-7th, 2018

Thanksgiving Banter

Val: My turn to ask questions. What are your Thanksgiving plans? (Full disclosure, we had T-day Monday evening while family was in town, so I’m off the hook for next Thursday!)

Steph: I’m excited to be hosting my brother and his adorable family-o-four! Plus this morning I got a call from Justin’s cousin in Denver and she wants to spend Thanksgiving with us. So she’s bringing her family-o-three. As you can imagine, I’ll have three or four bottles of wine open so the adults can sample and taste. I’m not doing a “traditional” turkey dinner. Yes, there’s turkey, but you won’t find mashed potatoes, green beans or stuffing on my table. My menu is “inspired” and the sides are savory pumpkin risotto and shaved brussels sprout salad with a citrus vinaigrette. For dessert we will have a cheese tray and also a honey saffron cake with chopped pistachios on top. It will be cheery (and cheesy) to have family together because Justin and I usually spend Thanksgiving with friends.


This week’s factoid is provided by Frank Albano of New Jersey Wine. He tells us about the different wine trails and wine styles. Also, NJ is the seventh largest in US wine production by state. (35:00) http://visitsouthjersey.com/

Wino Radar

Wine Routes with Adrian Tamblin (35:40) is a project (and app) by Sonoma County web developers that helps visitors to wine country curate their own visits. http://www.wineroutes.com/

Color of Wine (37:00) is a project (and app) developed by the Women in Wine community. It’s a coloring book for wine lovers!


Some Vox:

Please listen to the entire episode for the complete commentary and fun chunks of audio from the conference from these folks:

Food Wine Click‘s Jeff Burrows (42:14)

Sarita from Swirl Suite (43:35)

Seth of Musings by the Glass (44.50)

Allison of Please the Palate (45.18)

Lori of Dracaena Wines (46:24)

It was cool meeting Allan from Episode 36. He and his brother, with the help of Sara, run a nicely done conference – they had a lot of balls in the air, but it was very well organized.

Other fun peeps:

Gladys from the Wine Institute

The folks from Gregory White, PR: Ian and Stefanie!

Trace from Vinsights

Nicole from Nibbling Gypsy & Somm’s Table

Nina from Lost in Wine

A cool morning at Hanna Winery

Hanna winery

Martin Ray winery

And so many others … there’s just not enough time to send virtual hugs. But if we missed you, please reach out and we’ll be sure to “holla back!” We’re happy to connect in this super fun, wonderful community of wine media peeps.

And stay tuned for more interviews from #WBC17!



Our next book is a recommendation from Patron and friend Cathey Love in Tennessee. It is the autobiography A Glass Full of Miracles by Mike Grgich.

We love this suggestion Cathey posted on our Facebook community page because of two reasons: Mike’s daughter, Violet Grgich, was a guest on this podcast a year ago in Episode 79; and 2017 marks Grgich Hill’s 40th anniversary.

Also, with regard to the devastating California wildfires, Grgich Hills is safe and open for business.


  • Please use the #W25BookClub on social media!
  • You can easily order the book right here.
  • The Book Review Episode will air on December 21st


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