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The Most Glaring Omissions From The 2012 Wine Blog Awards Finalists

Vinted on August 14, 2012 binned in wine bloggers conference, wine blogging

Some people are either too intelligent or too timid to criticize programs from which they’ve benefited. That’s usually a smart play when it comes to things like awards, because criticism can undermine those accolades and potentially reduce their value to those who have received them.

But with the 2012 Wine Blog Awards winners announcement being imminent (the reveal will be this week at the 2012 Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland, OR), I felt the timing was right to exercise both my lack of intelligence and timidity, and to share some of what were, to me, the most glaring omissions from the list of WBA finalists this year.

It’s not that I dislike the WBAs, the WBC, its organizers, etc. And it’s not that I want to take anything away from accomplishments of the finalists for the WBAs this year (hell, I’m one of them!). The opposite is true, in fact – it’s because I believe so strongly in the awards, and want to see them continually improve in meaning, scope and impact, that I felt compelled to give props where I thought they were due but had not yet translated into WBC love (look, I’m still a wine consumer and a wine blog fan, here, okay?).

So… here are four wine blogs whose omissions from the 2012 WBAs has caused me a fair amount of both consternation and puzzlement (though to be honest, it wasn’t so bad that a few glasses of Champagne couldn’t cure it… temporarily)…

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Most People Will Never Get Into Wine – And Why That’s OK (The Launch of Crushd, And Analyzing The Wine Geek Pyramid at WBC11)

Vinted on August 3, 2011 binned in best of, going pro, wine bloggers conference

Chances are pretty high that, if you’re reading this (and you’re reading this), you are a wine geek.

And by “wine geek,” I mean that you are atop the U.S. wine consumer pyramid (that’s if you’re living in the U.S., of course – those of you outside the U.S. are just gonna have to play along on this one). As in, the tippy, tippy, holy-crap-it’s-a-looooong-way-down-from-here, tippy-top of the pyramid.

And it doesn’t even matter if you consider yourself an avid oenophile or not – simply by virtue of treating wine with any semblance of importance in your life, you’ve firmly entrenched yourself in wine-geek-out territory, at least when compared with the general consumer-going public in America.

And don’t worry about it…. because it’s okay.

In fact, I’m going to explain why that’s not only okay, but that you ought to revel in the fact that you are in the upper echelon of the wine-buying U.S. public. In fact, I’m going to explain why it’s downright awesome.  After a bit of exposition, of course.  C’mon, you think I’m gonna let this thing go under 1300 words?  Are you nuts?

It all came to me after day one of the 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference, during a steamy, 8-billion degree, 5000% humidity evening in downtown Charlottesville (I might have exaggerated that last bit), in which a bleary-eyed (due to travel-, conference-, weather-, and wine-induced-fatigue) yours truly took part in an off-premise “fireside chat” on the topic of Wine & Tech, which eventually turned about as heated as the sweltering northern Virginia night.

The event was organized by wine industry think-tank group Vintank and Crushd (the team behind a newly-released iPhone wine-journaling app). Thankfully (since most of us were already melting through our clothing) there was no actual fire was lit at the host venue (Orzo Kitchen & Wine Bar), and to assist (as if we needed it) getting our tongues wagging and opinions flowing, there were several interesting Rioja wines being poured courtesy of Vibrant Rioja (I can now attest personally to the tastiness of a well-chilled 2010 Marques de Caceres dry white Rioja on a stiflingly sultry Virginia Summer evening, by the way)…

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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 binned in 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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