Turning Pro? (Professional Wine Writers Symposium & Premiere Napa)

Vinted on January 21, 2010 binned in about 1winedude blog, wine industry events

Last week, I had the pleasure of receiving an e-mail from Jim Gordon, all-around nice & talented guy, editor of the wine industry stalwart publication Wines & Vines, and Director of the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers, containing the following tidbit:

Congratulations! The winners of fellowships for the 2010 Symposium for Professional Wine Writers at Meadowood Napa Valley have been selected, and you are among them. I wanted you to know as soon as possible that, yes, you are a winner and that you should proceed accordingly with your travel plans for the Feb. 16-19, 2010 event… The writing samples you sent were judged blind by a panel of accomplished and objective wine writers, and earned you this honor as one of the most talented writers attending the sixth annual Symposium for Professional Wine Writers…

Holy.  Crap.  [Editor’s note: the previous statement refers to my reaction upon reading the e-mail; the words “holy” and “crap” do NOT appear in any form / context in the text of Mr. Gordon’s note. ]

It’s funny – I don’t feel like a professional wine writer…

I can only assume that “judged blind” means that the judges were actually blindfolded when they reviewed the fellowship candidates’ writing samples, otherwise I’m at a loss to explain the extreme lack of sound judgment surprising and unexpected choice displayed by awarding me a fellowship.

Not that I’m complaining.  For one, the speakers on tap for the Symposium read like a wine writing All Star Team line up.  And you’d do a lot worse than to stay at the posh Meadowood for four days.  But the coup de grace (which, by the way, is one of the more violent foreign language expressions to be adopted into common English language usage) is that Alder Yarrow (who is also participating in the Symposium) recently raved about past Symposium events, and I respect Alder’s opinion – even though he once stole my girl (just kidding, Alder – who loves ya, baby?)…

I’m stoked to attend the Symposium, with the personal goal of trying not to talk too much so that I can learn as much as possible from the collective mad-talent to carbon-atom ratio that will be present at the event.  That includes Alder, even if he hasn’t actually finished writing any books yet (just kidding, Alder – who loves ya, baby?).

Also involved in pulling of the Symposium are Napa Valley Vintners and the Culinary Institute of America, who deserve mad props for how well they treated us during last year’s Wine Bloggers Conference in Napa/Sonoma.

I should (and therefore, will) extend a public thanks to Franciscan Estate, the winery that underwrote the particular fellowship awarded to me.  According to the Symposium website:

Franciscan winery is pleased to offer a Fellowship to an attending writer of the 2009 Symposium for Professional Wine Writers. The award is open to published writers with a particular interest in the winemaker’s art of blending.

I’ve no idea how my writing convinced the judges that I had a particular interest in the art of blending, but when good fortune comes my way, I’m not one to take the gift horse squarely by the horns and then kick him in the mouth (or whatever).  As far as I’m concerned, I am now a major fan of blending; just like when back in 2006 my band won the opportunity to audition at Philly’s Electric Factory for opening for Bon Jovi, at the time I would have told you that Bon Jovi was one of the greatest bands in the known universe.  It’s not selling out, it’s just being way too grateful, right?  RIGHT?!??

Also on tap for the upcoming jaunt to Napa will be coverage of this year’s Premiere Napa Valley event, which takes place Feb. 19-20 at the CIA.  Premiere Napa showcases (via barrel tastings) small lots of 200 wines from some of Napa’s top wineries, made especially for the event; each lot is sold to only one bidder.  Now, we often discuss low production, hard-to-access wine on 1WineDude.com, but that’s some low production, hard-to-get wine!

More to come on all of this in February, of course, and I plan on covering as much of the events as possible here (via text and video) and I’m looking forward to all of it – including talking shop with Alder, even if he [insert snide teasing remark about Alder here, as I’m too tired to come up with a new one right now].






  • Sonadora

    Congrats Joe!

    • 1WineDude


  • Dale Cruse

    Holy shit you're becoming insufferable. :-)

    • 1WineDude


      Where have you been? I've been insufferable for like 2 years now!!

  • Susan Guerra

    Hi Joe! Congratulations!!!! I want to hear all about it when you get back!

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks – I'm hoping that I can cover all of this during the week in Napa…

  • Chris

    Congrats, Joe. Well deserved.

    As luck would have it, we'll be in Oakland that same weekend for the PS, I Love You Dark & Delicious Event. My first trip to Northern California, and we plan on hitting some of Napa too. See you out there maybe.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks – would be great. I leave insanely early on the following Sunday though :-P.

  • vinogirl

    Congratulations, not like it is a shocker or anything!!!
    Hope you enjoy your trip to Napa, I love it here…although with 4 days of solid rain, hail, flooding at the winery etc., it feels more like my native England (without the winery of course.) Congrats again.

    • 1WineDude


      Actually, to be like England right now, it would need to hit -18F and snow 14", right? ;-)

  • Ken Morris

    Joe, congratulations. While you're in Napa, we hope you'll stop at Grgich Hills to so we can introduce you to our biodynamic farming. And, we'll be pouring our lot at Premier on Saturday.

    Grgich Hills Estate

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Ken!

      The week is basically totally booked for me, but I will definitely try to meet up at Premiere.


  • tom merle

    Word on the street is that Bob Hodgson is traveling down from Humboldt County to bop you on head with a copy of the Journal of Wine Economics.

    • 1WineDude

      HA!! Excellent. Well, I deserve it I'm sure!

  • Ted

    Congrats Dude, glad to see you return to Napa. Premiere's a good event, great wine, entertaining auction but I get really excited about the food! The lunch is awesome-cooked up by CIA students…

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks – will you be there?

      • Ted

        Not this year, my kids got a fundraiser thing I will be at. Send out some tweets and I might just run into you at a drinking establishment somewhere :)

        • 1WineDude

          Will do!

  • @suburbanwino

    Awesome, Joe. And very much deserved, if I may say so (granted, I hope to someday know you well enough to toast your accomplishments with the delightful snark of a Dale Cruse). Have fun! I'm still holding out for the "Comedy Wine Writers Symposium" scholarship…

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks – and trust me, you know me well enough already to do that :).

      • @suburbanwino

        Okay. Then F-off … :)

        • 1WineDude

          See? Makes you feel good, doesn't it? :-)

  • johncesano

    Congratulations, I hope you write about the experience. Enjoy yourself.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks – I'll be planning massive blog fodder from that trip.

  • John

    Wow, dude – you're getting so big that Pennsy won't be able to hold you. You're gonna leak over into Jersey. ;)

    • 1WineDude

      Not likely ;-)

  • Matthiasson

    Congrats! So glad you are getting the nod for your great writing. Be sure to look us up when you're here!

    • 1WineDude

      Thnx – are you part of the Premiere event by any chance?

  • Brendan O'Kane

    In Australia "judged blind" could be taken as judged after way too many good reds. Congratulations, enjoy Napa, especially Hagafen and Olabisi (love their Petite Syrah)

    • 1WineDude

      Ha! Now that would explain things!


  • @girlwithaglass

    I just want to say I am madly jealous…and uh…out of the loop. Had I known about it, I would have applied, because (as of now) I really care about blending. So, instead, I'll eagerly read every post that you write about it & try to find a way to crash that lunch. Cheers mate!

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks! The strange thing was that I happened on it by accident after talking to Jim about something totally unrelated to the Symposium. I think, given the explosion of wine blogging in the last 2+ years, they probably need to rethink their approach to marketing the event…


  • Kayla K

    Thats wierd, if you go tot he symposium website they ask that no bloggers need apply. humm… you get published elsewhere?

    • 1WineDude

      Kayla – really?  Because there were many bloggers at WWS this year, and I know for a fact that several more bloggers applied.I have been published elsewhere but as of last year when I went to WWS as a fellowship recipient, I'd been published on-line, not in print.I might have to talk to Jim about that wording!

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