The 2010 Wine Writers Symposium in 10 Easily Digestible & Tasty Morsels

Vinted on February 19, 2010 binned in commentary, wine industry events

Alternative title: “What I Learned (So Far) At the 2010 Professional Wine Writers Symposium in Napa

  1. Symposium Chairperson and Wines & Vines editor Jim Gordon, may, in fact, be the sweetest and most patient person on the planet (there remains one more day of symposium activities in which to properly test this theory).
  2. The amount of downtime built into the entire week of Symposium activities is approximately 47 seconds.
  3. The amount of raw talent and brain power among the symposium attendees is staggering, but is immediately doubled in terms of IQ points the moment that founder, Yahoo search pioneer, and twitter search guru Doug Cook walks into the room.
  4. When you read aloud (over a loudspeaker) a tasting note that you’ve written in which you compare a glass of Syrah to an uncomfortable satin thong, you will piss off famed author, wine educator, and television personality Karen MacNeil [ Editor’s note: this was recently substantiated via personal experience. ]
  5. Both Eric Asimov and Steve Heimoff are practical, warm and charming in person (meaning that I have lost at least two bets and the week isn’t even over yet).
  6. Harlan wines will be poured judiciously at Symposium after-hours gatherings, but only when I am not available that evening to attend any of them.
  7. Journalism jobs, freelance writing gigs, and book deals net you more money than affiliate fees. But not much more.
  8. If you take the ethical standards of critical writing / wine review writing, combine them in number, double that number, square the result, and divide by 0.0002, you will arrive at roughly the number of ethical violations that I might have inadvertently committed.  Before lunch. On day one.
  9. When Alder Yarrow uses the term “folks at our level” and you realize that he is talking about wine blog writing and is including you, you have to suppress the urge of performing a double-head-fake and then blushing.
  10. If you are serious about wine writing, then you should get serious about attending the Symposium in 2011.






  • Mark Cochard

    Glad your enjoying yourself.

    • 1WineDude

      I'm at CIA today… and as far as betting is concerned, the line is vastly in favor of Karen kicking my ass… :)

  • ChrisO

    As usual this post proves that they are in good company and a rising star in the world of wine journalism! Looking forward to more.

  • Katie

    I don't think I'd ever want to attend a symposium that frowned upon comparing a syrah to a thong. I've made it a point to say what others think in my food/wine writing, and folks seem to have responded, so why in the world would I have Karen teach me anything?

  • tom merle


    You're not doing your part and providing positive commentary on the Napa Valley, Napa wines, Meadowood and related topics. All the attendees have this obligation by virtue of accepting the hospitality, but a "fellow" has this obligation in spades, just as the bloggers did when they were wined and dined during Napa day earlier in the year.

    Of course it may be too blatant to offer up such raves during the event, but back in PA, you better be prepared to gush during the course of the year about Napa vino and hospitality, or at least provide cyber ink to the mission of the Napa Vintners and one of its foremost hostelries. . ;)

  • angela

    To Katie- I think it is great to say what “others think” in your food and wine writing and I am glad others have responded. I have to say what I think and respond to your comment “why in the world would I have Karen teach me anything”. The answer to that is because she has made it her life’s work to know her stuff. She knows more than 99.99999% of people on a subject that is complex and always changing AND makes wine fun and irreverent. She would never compare wine to a thong because she has a deep rooted respect for wine and the people who make it. I think it is great to step outside of the box….but you can only get away with that if you have the knowledge to back it up.

  • Eagles Nest Winery

    Sounds like a great symposium experience that many wine bloggers could learn from (although the cost barrier was noteable).

    Of course "folks at our level" (read Alder Yarrow's Vinography and yourself ) aren't doing that bad – even now ;)

    Don't lose your "style" over this….

  • 1WineDude

    Thanks all! A couple of quick points:

    – I'm being facetious in Karen MacNeil's reaction, of course: she handled it well and I was impressed by her lucid teaching style throughout our interactions.

    – While the NVV Association and Meadowood have been AWESOME this week, they've made it clear that we're under no obligation to cover anything about this event or give them positive press. I do feel an obligation, which is to my readers, to share the experiences here and I'll do that (in my own bizarre way) in due course.


    • tom merle


      Of course your hosts would ~say~ this. They can't ask you point blank to shill for them, even though…they expect it. Just as all entities who sponsor press junkets are morally right to expect coverage for their product, service of client. This is planet earth. If someone scratches your back, you better scratch back or you have violated the protocol.


      • 1WineDude

        Well, I think there are those who *hope* and those who *expect*, and then those who expect *too much*. For the latter, well, they can more-or-less get bent :-). At the very least, they're probably in for disappointment from me.

  • Kathy

    Am curious about what they said about accuracy; how participants said they taste wines (blind, at winery, at trade tasting, at home, etc.). Thanks for you notes!

    • 1WineDude

      Interestingly, we didn't even touch on that topic in terms of any formal discussion in the symposium.

  • WineBratSF

    Pissing off traditional media, drooling over Able Grape's Greatness AND being likened to Alder "You're so Cool" Yarrow?
    Your forgot bumping in to the maddening crowd in Napa as one of your highlights though.
    But I'm not bitter.

    Great highlights Dudeness!

    • 1WineDude

      The crowd bumping goes without saying! :-)

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