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Virginia Wine Brings Its “B” Game (Roasting And Toasting With The Best Of Virginian Wine At Monticello)

Thomas Jefferson had a strong love of wine (and beer), an historical tidbit that seems to have glued itself with more stickiness than an Rutherglen Muscat to our collective national legacy of our third President, right up their with tales of his intelligence, his elegant correspondences, and the fact that he finally checked-out on July 4th – U.S. Independence Day – in his eighties (and up to his eyeballs in debt).

Less well-known is that Jefferson touted Scuppernong as the next big thing in American winemaking, telling Washington Judge William Johnson in 1817 that it “would be distinguished on the best tables of Europe for its fine aroma, and chrystalline [sic] transparence.”

It seems ol’ T.J., in focusing on potential, lacked first president George Washington’s uncanny ability to see things for how they really were (at least when it comes to vino). Because Scuppernong wine is like… well, let’s just say we can poke fun at most Scuppernong because it’s Scuppernong.

Given the beauty of Jefferson’s Monticello estate, which was on full display (along with, less romantically, the oppressive Northern VA heat & humidity combo) at a mass-tasting of Virginian wines held there during the recent 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference, one might forgive T.J. for erring on the side of vinous over-optimism.

Given what I tasted that evening (even despite the mile-wide-inch-deep approach that is the bane of any grand tasting), the Virginia wine industry might be forgiven the odd bout of over-optimism as well, because the winemaking situation there is clearly on the right track, if not quite yet delivering fully on its promise as the next big thing in American wine.

Ahh, T.J…. you were only off by about 194 years! But you were a total Mac Daddy with the WBC11 ladies (see inset pic for photographic proof), so maybe we shouldn’t hold it against you.

Anyway… let’s talk about what went well in Virginia, vinously-speaking, of course!…

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Judging The 2011 Wine Blog Awards (Post-WBC11 Hangover Edition)

Vinted on July 25, 2011 under wine bloggers conference

It feels strange being able to settle at home and pop open a Flying Dog brewski only a few short hours after the 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference, the last three installments having taken place on the Left Coast and thus requiring a not-insubstantial amount of travel to attend for us Right Coasters.

This year’s shindig was held much closer to my neck of the woods, in Charlottesville, VA, where most of the conference days hit well over 100F outside, for which I employed a strategy of frequent shirt changes and liberal application of underarm deodorant (we might need a poll of those sitting near me at any of the sessions to determine how successful I was at beating the heat).  More to come on my encounters (good, bad, and thoroughly ugly) with Virginian wines in the next few days.

No doubt that this will be among several dozen blog posts on the global interwebs today talking about the results of the 2011 Wine Blog Awards, though I suspect far fewer will be discussing how the awards were judged.  I can talk a little bit about that, since I was a judge for this year’s competition…

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VA Is For… Wine Bloggers (WBC11 Bound)

Vinted on July 19, 2011 under wine bloggers conference, wine industry events

This week marks the kick-off of the 4th annual North American Wine Bloggers Conference, held (for the first time in its history) on the Right Coast (Charlottesville, VA, to be exact).  And I’m excited to be attending for the fourth time.

I’m excited to see old friends. I’m excited by the fact that this year’s conference is on the East Coast. I’m excited to be moderating one of the breakout session panels.  I’m excited to see who takes away the 2011 Wine Blog Awards (even though I’m a finalist for Best Overall Wine Blog, my money in that category is on Tom Wark – like Japan in the recent Women’s World Cup, he’s the sentimental fave, after all).  I’m excited to see the keynote speakers and get a chance to talk to them again in person, because I can tell you from personal experience that they’re as gracious, talented and delightful a duo of wine communicators as ever walked the planet.  I’m excited that every year I personally know a smaller and smaller percentage of the conference attendees.  I’m excited about the whole f*cking thing.

Ok, I’m not that excited about the drive down I-95, actually. But other than that, I’m looking forward to all of  it.  Even the wine speed-dating stuff, if just to see which producers pull it off successfully, and which ones stumble and do the on-line equivalent of a vinous face-plant (dear wine producer participants: sorry in advance for the schadenfreude).  If you’re attending, then I’m excited to meet you – even if you’re that PR guy who keeps emailing me about when I’ll try your clients’ wines (your answer, by the way: I don’t know). I’m excited to see people walking around in colonial reenactment garb… and teasing them with offers to sip whatever wine I have in my glass at the time (okay, I wouldn’t stoop that low… I think…).

I’m excited because I’m a geek, I’m in love with wine the way that I’m in love with music and almost as much as I’m in love with my wife and daughter – and I’m about to go hang out with a supportive community of like-minded geeks for the better part of three days, in a beautiful part of the country, in an area where an historic-and-now-budding wine industry is trying to secure its footing in the national wine market.

I’m not sure it gets much better than that. Actually, I’m quite sure it doesn’t get better than that.  Unless vintage port will also be poured… by lingerie models in swimwear… (note to my wife: the items preceding ellipses in this sentence are, in fact, included for humorous purposes only).

But what I’m most excited about?

My past forays with VA wine have had mixed results, and there have been no shortage of people offering me but-onlys and what-ifs about those experiences.  So, I’m most excited to see if those people are right – I’m most excited to see if the VA wine industry brings its A-game to this conference.

More to come from Virginia, where the proof will be in the anti-Federalist pudding…

Cheers!

Talkin’ ‘Bout Their Wine G-G-G-Generation (Millennials And Wine At WBC11)

Those of you planning on attending the upcoming 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference in Charlottesville, VA will have your choice of interesting break-out session panels during the afternoon of July 22nd. I’ll be moderating one of them, titled Millennials and Wine.

Millennials are Democratic (by a slight majority), thoroughly on-line and plugged daily into social networking tools, and (by a huge majority) sleep with their cellphones (really?) .  They are young enough that they might not get the reference mentioned in the title of today’s post.  They are fast becoming the wine consumers of the modern era, drinking a lot of the stuff (even in the shower… not sure I get that one entirely), especially if it has bubbles.

And there are nearly 25 million more of them than there are Gen Xers.

With a potential market that big,  if you’re even thinking about wine writing, wine blogging, wine sales, wine marketing, or wine making, you’d better start to understand what makes Millennials tick when it comes to wine.

And you’d better do it quickly

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