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Posts Filed Under wine bloggers conference

Come Original: Advice on the Eve of Wine Bloggers Conference `09

Vinted on July 23, 2009 binned in wine 2.0, wine bloggers conference, wine blogging

One year ago, nearly to the day, I posted my thoughts on why you should be a wine blogger.

A year later, on the eve of the 2nd annual American Wine Bloggers Conference, I find myself posting about almost the exact same topic.

While writing last year’s post, I found myself asking what I imagined many readers of that article would ask.  Namely, Why Should I Care What You Think? And today I find myself answering that question.

You shouldn’t care what I think.

Ironically, I’m saying this in response to an increasing amount of questions that I am getting from those new to blogging (and in particular those new to wine blogging) – at least, newer to it than I am – about how to be a “successful” wine blogger.

My advice is this:  Wine blogging has arrived.  So stop caring what I think and get on with it…

Read the rest of this stuff »

Announcing 1WineDude TV!

Vinted on July 15, 2009 binned in 1WineDude TV, wine bloggers conference

Friends, Romans, Wine-Country-Peeps:

1WineDude TV has officially launched!

What are the plans for 1WineDude TV?

First off, covering next week’s second annual American Wine Bloggers Conference from Sonoma with what will hopefully be a witty collection of wine edu-tainment vids.  Personally, I can’t watch long vids over the Internet so I’m going to ensure that all 1WineDude TV episodes are short (very short).

After that, I’ve got absolutely no plans.  But hey, that’s never stopped things around 1WineDude.com before so what they hell, let’s Get This Par-Tay Started!  Enjoy… and shout out your thoughts (especially regarding my “face-plant”) in the comments!

Future 1WD TV episodes will be posted here on 1WineDude, of course, sourced from my YouTube channel.

Cheers!

p.s. – Special thanks to Shirley Thompson for the camera work, and to Black Box Wines for supplying the Flip Mino.

Attack of the Wine Events (or “Back To Controversy!”)

Vinted on April 27, 2009 binned in german wine, wine bloggers conference

With the enormous and successful Twitter Taste Live! / Hospice du Rhone / Wine Riot! combined event behind us, attention can now start to be focused on yet another series of big wine-related events that are entering the Collective Dude-O-Sphere (as I’ve dubbed that pocket of the Universe that contains my ever-decreasing amounts of free time).  These events are “big” either in scope, in the momentum behind them (i.e., brand-new, first-of-their-kind) or in potential to get me in trouble with the would-be wine writing pundits (is there a synonym for pundit that starts with ‘W’?).

Yes, again.

The first of these will have me heading out to Long Island to take part in the first-ever TasteCamp EastTasteCamp is the brainchild of fellow wine blogger Lenn Thompson, who focuses primarily on NY area wine.  Lenn, along with area groups like the Long Island Merlot Alliance, has organized a mini wine blogger assault on the fine wineries of the LI region, consisting mostly of East Coast wine bloggers, that will have us visiting a surprisingly large amount of wineries and winemakers in surprisingly small amount of time (May 1-3).  I’ll be reporting as often as I can during the event, but bear in mind that May 1st is my wedding anniversary and Mrs. Dudette might not be takin’ too kindly to no laptop PCs that day!

The next trip, chronologically, is the juicy, controversial one – so let’s hold off on that one for a few (I know… I’m a jerk)…

July 24-26 will have me back in Napa/Sonoma for the 2nd North American Wine Bloggers Conference, which will be just as big and bold (in terms of participants and sponsors) as last year’s event.  I am stoked to get back out to CA wine country, and to meet up again with the great and colorful cast of the NA wine blogging community.  I’ve got the trip bookended by visits with wine producers whose exciting wines have been featured here in the virtual pages of 1WineDude, and a sojourn north to Washington state – so there will be a sh*tload of wine blog article material coming out of that trip.

Having said that… I’m torn about the topics that will be discussed at the WBC, mostly because I find quite a few of them either not interesting for you (“Wine Blogging Monetization: How-To”), not interesting for me (“Search Engine Optimization, Traffic Building, and blogs”), or so old, tired and over-discussed that they’re now the dusty, mummified remains of what might have once been  viable discussion points (“Panel for Unified Standards for Ethics”… Zzzzzz…).  I probably won’t be reporting on any of that, but will be reporting on the people, wines, and wine producers that we meet there.  The WBC recently came under a bit of misdirected fire from none other than wine uber-critic Robert Parker.  Parker got much of it very, very wrong, but I suspect this was due as much to misunderstanding as anything else.  I’ll let you read the details, but will tell you that I happen to be paying my own way to WBC (and to TasteCamp).

Which brings us to our more, er…, delicate topic of the day.

In mid-May, I’ll be going on a wine junket.  As in, I’m not paying my own way on that one.

There, I said it.  Everyone, take cover!!!  And for god’s sake, PROTECT THE CHILDREN!!!

Wait, the server didn’t crash?  The world is still turning?  Gravity is still functioning, and the atom hasn’t destabilized?

Well, I’ll be!

The topic of wine junkets (which, roughly defined, is an all-expenses-paid trip for press types to a wine region/event/etc. for the purpose of exposing them – and therefore, hopefully, their readers/markets/etc. – to wines that are made by clients of those footing the bill) has taken on a sizzling red-hot temperature recently.  This was due in no small part to the writing of Tyler Colman (a.k.a. Dr. Vino), who recently drew attention to an event that was attended by one of the contributors to Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Jay Miller.  At one point, it was unclear if Mr. Miller paid for his own expenses at the event (which is WA policy, confirmed by Tyler in correspondence with Parker) or if he didn’t (which, theoretically, would violate that policy and possibly tarnish the perception of impartiality that is key to the WA’s success with its readership).  The brouhaha sparked ethics discussions / debates around the web, and precipitated a personal treatise on wine writing ethics by Jancis Robinson.

One’s individual reaction to this probably ranges anywhere from deep-seated, intense passion, to a long, subdued yawn – depending on how involved you are with matters concerning the wine press (not a wine press… ah, you get the idea).  As one particularly witty member of the wine blogging community, Terence Hughes, put it via twitter:

“junkets, mountain, molehill.”

In general, I’m inclined to agree with Terence, but I suppose it can’t hurt too badly to have the topic of sticking to your own code of ethics discussed in yet another wine blog post, right?

[ On second thought, don’t answer that.  I’m just glad there’s a wine blogging world controversy that doesn’t somehow involve impugning my personal character – this time, I’m the one munching on the popcorn (for once)! ]

Anyway, Tyler’s post is timely for me, because I’ve decided to finally accept a wine junket invitation, in part because I want to know what all the hubbub is about, and in part because it will get me back over to Germany wine country without having to foot the bill myself or depleting my cache of BA miles.

I haven’t decided if I’ll write about it, or if I do what angle I’ll take, but I can tell you that whatever I write is going to be objective. I’ll let you decide whether or not this violates anything in my code of ethics, which I’ve updated to include junkets even though it probably didn’t need it.

And before the would-be wine writing W-pundits start talking about how the traveling, wining and dining will manipulate my poor, naive blogger countenance and influence me to wax poetic about the wines I’ll be served: you need to know that this will be my 5th trip to German wine country, and that I could afford stays at any of the hotels we’d visit, or meals at any of the restaurants, etc.  Will the freebies influence my opinion of the wines poured on the junket?  Probably, but I’m fairly confident that it won’t matter that much, since the primary focus of 1WineDude.com is not to be an advocacy group for wine collectors – the blog is NOT primarily about rating wines – it’s an education vehicle about wine for the intermediate wine lover. I’m also fairly confident that the winemakers I talk to on this trip won’t be a bunch of liars (one would hope, right?).

Anyway – Just be aware that it will be the German Wine Institute and the European Union that will be footing the bill on this one, not me, and make your own judgments.

It will also be my 10th trip in 11 consecutive weeks – so there’s no way I’d be going unless I thought I and 1WineDude.com readers might get serious value out of it.  Because as much as I dislike changing diapers, I dislike not seeing wife and baby daughter even more!

Cheers!

Sean Minor Wines: A Wine "Speed Dating" Redux

Vinted on January 7, 2009 binned in wine bloggers conference, wine review

Hey, remember the recent Wine Bloggers Conference? Not that I haven’t mentioned it a gazillion times or anything.

Anyway… one of the more interesting experiments conducted on both bloggers and winery representatives was on day one of said conference, when we played a very large game of wine review “speed dating.”

In summary: bloggers were seated in a large conference room, about eight or so to a table; winery reps. rotated at set intervals between each table; each set of reps. had 5 minutes to present their wine to the blogger group, who then tasted and had 1 minute to record their thoughts on said wine, all live. More on the conference and the “speed dating” can be heard on WineBizRadio.com.

As you might imagine, it was a bit of organized chaos. In my live recap of the event, I basically had enough time to record gut reactions on each wine, and little else. Not that it wasn’t fun, it just wasn’t an ideal environment to really get to know any of the wines that were presented.

Which is why when I was offered a second chance to re-sample one of the producers represented at that speed dating event, I jumped at it.

Sean Minor Wines is a (very) small family outfit in Napa, making Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, as well as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc (the latter two under the 4 Bears label), all of them under $20. The backdrop story on 4 Bears (which I managed to capture in my brief speed-dating encounter during the WBC), is that Sean Minor and wife Nicole decided to create their winery after analyzing their finances and discovering that their second largest monthly expense was (you guessed it) wine (presumably, with four children – after whom the 4 Bears label takes it name – their largest expense was the kids?).

According to their press release:

Rather than taking his start-up capital and investing it in the bricks and mortar of a
winery, Minor decided to build his business as a negociant by sourcing out grapes and
some already fermented wines from Napa Valley, Sonoma County and California Central Coast appellations to create his wines. The wines themselves are made in a leased facility in Napa County where Minor ages, blends and bottles the wine under the Sean Minor label. “As a negociant I’ve been able to really center our efforts on making a top-quality wine,” said Minor. “My efforts are spent creating impeccable tasting wine and personally introducing it to people throughout the country.”

During the WBC speed-dating, I managed to capture this about their `06 Cabernet:

Four Bears - one guy and his wife are the total staff, who started making wine (via co-op) to offset their growing wine drinking budget! My kind of folks… 06 Cab Sauv. $17 (Napa Valley). Very accessible, but not without depth (the cedar element is a nice touch).

I guess the self-made family thing really struck a chord for me. Anyway, from what I recalled of the day, the wine was good, priced to move, and was more than just a one-trick-pony.

So… how do their wines stand up outside of the heated excitement of wine speed-dating?

Pretty well, it turns out.

At their best (as in the case of the Cab.), the wines offer a depth that I would consider slightly beyond their price point, making them a very good value. At worst, the wines are still very tasty and certainly priced fairly, really only lacking in the length of finish and the simplicity of their secondary aromas; otherwise, the fruit is all California and they deliver appropriately.

My mini-reviews on each of the 4 Bears wines:

06 Sean Minor 4 Bears Merlot (Napa Valley): No mistaking it’s from CA. A very good buy, especially if you like plums, plums & more plums.

05 4 Bears Chardonnay (Central Coast, CA): Tropical fruits balance with good oak, but you need to like butter (if so, you’ll like the price)

06 4 Bears Sauvignon Blanc (Sonoma County): Lime & tropic fruits abound. Good acidity & mouthfeel, & surprising finesse for the price point.

06 Sean Minor 4 Bears Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Red fruit & a little cedar/spice, & good acidity with refreshingly lower abv for CA!

For more happenings at 4 Bears, check out their blog at www.4bearswinery.com/blog. I will leave you with a shot of my own assistant “bear” sommelier:


Cheers!
(images: 1WineDude.com, www.4bearswinery.com, goodwineunder20.blogspot.com)

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