Top 10 Things I Learned at WBC 2014

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The 2014 Wine Bloggers’ Conference co-mingled about 150 citizen bloggers and 200-plus wine and related industry personnel with wine makers and producers from all over the world last week at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott in Buellton, California.

Top10WBCThis was the seventh year of the annual event started by Joel Vincent and Zephyr Adventures in 2008, and now run primarily by Zephyr with a small board of advisors. In addition to Buellton, the North American WBC conventioneers have invaded Santa Rosa, California (2008, 2009); Walla Walla, Washington (2010); Charlottesville, Virginia (2011); Portland, Oregon (2012) and Penticton, British Columbia (2013) to date.

Next year’s conference is set for August 13 – 16, 2015 in the town of Corning, New York. The 2015 conference will feature wineries of the Finger Lakes Region.

This year’s event allowed us to spend time with old friends discovering a variety of cool climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, as well as a number of fabulous Rhone-style blends from wine makers who are as down-to-earth as they are passionate about making wine in the Central Coast’s Santa Ynez Valley AVA.

Larry_JoeSome of the best experiences are often not part of the scheduled WBC program. Beginning with our pre-WBC San Francisco Wine School seminar on the region in Happy Canyon’s Star Lane Vineyards to tasting with some of our best buddies at the beautifully peaceful Refugio Ranch northern slope of the Santa Ynez Mountains followed by a great post-WBC “Speakeasy” party with wine makers hosted by Clos Pepe’s pizza oven king Wes Hagen and our brief visit with former Houstonians and master gardeners John and Christine at Hilliard Bruce winery and vineyards in Lompoc, we discovered some true gems that we cannot wait to tell you about!

During the conference we reconnected with some of our favorite industry folks as well. We partied with Robert Larsen and Rachel Vorhees to celebrate Rodney Strong‘s 25 years of family ownership. We reconnected with George Athanas to taste new vintages from New Wines of Greece. We tasted through Italy with Banfi’s Joe Janish; discovered new wines from Ed Thralls and tasted new releases from a Napa Valley favorite Cornerstone Cellars’ Craig Camp.  Louise Hurren, a great lady we met in Montpellier, France during Millesime Bio in 2011 joined us at our table in White and Rose Speed Tasting.

Our WBC bus excursion to Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyards and Andrew Murray Vineyards introduced us to Los Olivos wineries and let us get to know one of our new favorite wine makers Tercero’s Larry Schaffer. He and Joe hit it off instantly and shenanigans commenced. The fact that he makes a lusty set of Rhône Red & White Wines did not hurt!

We had a great time in Buellton, and wish we could have stayed longer! We came home to a Houston house without air conditioning, and certainly miss the “big diurnal shifts” and the cool nights of California’s Central Coast. While I’m going over my notes for lengthier stories, I wanted to post a quick Top 10 Things I Learned this Year at WBC. Here we go!

Number 10: 15 people in a room playing Cards Against Humanity after a night of “tasting” does not endear bloggers to non-WBC hotel guests.


Number 9: Some of my very best friends have a truly twisted sense of humor and I LOVE them for it! (see Number 10)

Number 8:  The world of wine blogging is becoming more and more diverse in age, gender and ethnicity. Wine Bloggers come from all walks of life!


Number 7:  Despite blogger participant diversity, the WBC seminars and keynote speakers continue to feature grand-fatherly white male traditional print writers as the only “true experts” to whom we should aspire.


Number 6:  Wes Hagen can properly explain anything if you just give him 10 more seconds.


Number 5:  If your bus gets lost or breaks down, just look for Thea Dwelle to be among the passengers.



Number 4:  Any man 35 or older now has more gray hair than he did at WBC 2008 (we women never gray … just ask our hair stylists.)



Number 3:  The call for Blogger Ethics” is situational: It is wrong when a Wine Blogger agrees to write a post in exchange for a $75 bottle of wine, but “respectfully requested” in exchange for attending the Wine Blogger Conference at the posted registration rate of $95.


Number 2:  Some of the best wine in California is made by renegades and outlaws!


Number 1:  Yeast!

And now for one of my favorite Late Night with David Letterman “Top 10” Lists … here’s Betty White!


The WineWonkette

About Amy Corron Power

A licensed attorney, Amy is a wine-lover, foodie, photographer, political junkie and award-winning author who writes about Wine, Food, Beer & Spirits. As Managing Editor & Tasting Director for Another Wine Blog, she travels all over the world's wine regions to share her experiences with her readers and nearly 11,000 twitter fans. Amy holds certifications through the International Sommelier Guild, and is also certified, with honors, as a California Wine Appellation Specialist (CWAS). She is a member of the Guild of Sommeliers, The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas and regularly attends Houston Sommelier Association events.
  • allanwright

    Amy, nice review. The actual count was 187 Citizen Wine Bloggers, 52 Wine Industry Bloggers, and 117 Staff, Speakers, Sponsors, and Others.

    • WineWonkette

      Thanks Allan. I looked at the participant list Pre conference and checked all the listed blog urls. If someone was selling anything related to the wine industry I counted them as “industry”. Semantics. And I suppose there could have been some late entrants. :)

      • allanwright

        If they are industry bloggers, we still count them as bloggers!

        • WineWonkette

          And charging them the citizen blogger rate? I don’t know that I would :)

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  • Larry Schaffer

    Well, I think you captured the weekend pretty darned well – not much more to say but I LOVE your top 10 lists . . . hilarious and spot on. And that Joe guy? Yeah, he’s kinda funny . . . ;-) Cheers!

    • WineWonkette

      Thanks Larry. It was a pleasure getting to know you. Scary how much you and Joe are alike.

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  • 1WineDude

    +1 That is all.

    • WineWonkette

      Thanks Joe!

  • Wes Hagen

    Wait, give me 10 more seconds!

    • WineWonkette

      I will gladly give you another 10 seconds anytime Wes — you throw a helluva shindig :)

  • Matthew Delaney

    Freaking awesome. Words with friends was so dang fun! You nailed it…

    • WineWonkette

      Hey Matthew – I thought we scared you off with our little card game. Great to see you again!

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  • The Drunken Cyclist

    Alright, I am trying not to be offended since I was not mentioned once in this post. I know that I was attended several of the events you list here and therefore I must have offended you in some way, yet bupkis.

    Hmmpf. Must try harder next year!

    • WineWonkette

      Well I could have posted the um… sabering video…but that would have just been mean! Seriously, thanks for reading… I referenced my long time posse… you must hang out with me at least 3 WBCs or be a winemaker to be in that group ;)

      • The Drunken Cyclist

        Ah, the sabering fiasco rears its ugly head once more! Kudos, you now join the growing herd of folks that will never allow me to forget the fact that Wes uses very strong glass and has sparkling wine that is far too lightly effervescent.

        Regardless, I would love to chat with you next year at #WBC15. My interpretation of the “Great White Wine Writer” conundrum should appear tomorrow on my blog. Would love to hear your thoughts….

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