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Here we go again…down another road!

Hello and welcome! The purpose for the Wine Bloggers Conference Scholarship Fund is to sponsor selected recipients with funding to attend the Wine Bloggers Conference next June in Walla Walla, Washington.

Through a committee selection process, applicants are asked to describe their blog, their financial needs pertaining to the Wine Bloggers Conference, and why they are deserving on sponsorship.

The selection committee consists of the following individuals:
Thea Dwelle @winebratsf – wine blogger and social media champion

The 2010 WBC Scholarship Committee is still being formed.

All of the committee members have paid for thier own fees associated with the Wine Bloggers Confernece and are participating in this panel in order to encourage the sense of community among wine bloggers, and allow more attendees to participate in this years confernece who might otherwise not be able to.

Funds are generated by donations from participating wineries, PR agencies, wine business industry members, and individuals. If you wish to donate to this fund, please contact us! We accept donations from all wine industry companies, as well as individuals.

Skip that morning latte and donate to a needy blogger! No amount is too small, and every effort is appreciated, though we do request that if you can, a minimum $95 donation which will register a citizen blogger.

Funds are awarded based on the committee selection process, and are pooled. No one donation will be given to a specific individual.

So, you’re a winery or a wine industry business, and you want to send a needy blogger to summer camp, but you’re not really sure how you can justify the cost expenditure, or why you should.

The wine industry is rapidly becoming involved in this new media of blogging and social media, which is slowly, if not entirely replacing the traditional print medium as the information source of choice.

With events like the Wine Bloggers Conference, Wine Industry Technology Symposium (WITS), and Web 2.o increasing in popularity, blogging is here to to stay. The Wine Bloggers Conference offers an extraordinary opportunity for bloggers and industry reps to learn about the industry, about wine, and gain further understand of each other. As most bloggers are blogging for love and not for dollars, in can be extra challenging, to go the extra distance, and find the extra dollars, to attend the Wine Bloggers Conference. Likewise, the blogging community also suffers without the contribution of valuable members who can’t afford to get there. It seems totally reasonable to offer support to this fledgling collective…without a quid pro quo, to support its growth. Wine Blogging is here to stay. With even the b ig players in the industry starting to take note, for better or for worse, online social connections are enhancing traditional media.
As Bill Legion, President of Hahn Family Estates recently said:
I believe that the blogging community is a vital part of the future of the industry. In the many debates of what is or isn’t ethical in regards to the winery/wine blogger relationship what seems clear to me is that the best, most ethical thing we as a winery can do is provide the blogging community with quality products, quality information and quality wine experiences regardless of race, sex, color, creed or brand of wine. We are using our vineyards because that’s who we are. I believe that the more the blogging community learns about wine, the better it is for all of us.

It is a vital connection; just like the winery/wine writer connection; the winery/wine buyer connection; and of course the winery/consumer connection. It does us no good to create great wines if no one knows about it. I just can’t drink that much. The wine business is a relationship business. We must create an emotional connection to our consumers. We do that through many means and I believe Social Media is a major part of creating that connection.

The wine business is one of relationships. You sell wine to people, one bottle at a time. No matter how big or how small the order might grow to be, it’s a connection that sells the wine. As Bill said:

The internet and Social Media allow you to … establish a relationship and an emotional connection to someone in Germany that I have never met face to face. It allows me to create connections with multiple people in multiple countries simultaneously and in a very personal way.

I couldn’t have put it better myself! From our perspective, donating to the fund provides valuable exposure not only here on this blog, but also to the bloggers who are the recipients of those funds. While there is not a 1 to 1 relationship from sponsor to blogger, they will be aware of who the general pool of funds was created by, and who is helping them achieve their WBC goal.

To further expound on this point, I’d like to quote Joe Roberts from 1WineDude. Joe ,who was recently back from TasteCamp East on Long Island, a similar event to the WBC.

Joe describes wine bloggers and the online wine community in general as vibrant group, with an increasing relevance that grows every day as the next generation of wine consumers (and those older generations that are increasingly influenced by them) demand new, more immediate ways of learning and interacting with wine. New wine drinkers care less and less about wine credentials and diplomas and experiences as they are shown on paper. This fresh crop of wineux care about transparency and that we are consistant and reliable. They care the we know what we are talking about and that we are passionate about our subject, and want to help them improve and enjoy by giving solid advice.

If these consumers are looking to us for advice and inspiration, wineries and wine industry professionals would be wise to take note. Generation X, Y and those pesky millennials are nipping at the heels of Facebook, Twitter and blogging, seeking information. The death of the traditional newspaper should be a wake up call for all. The SF Chronicle recently lost it’ dedicated wine section. Why? Because we can get this information online. With both paid and unpaid publication simultaneously growing on the internet, consumers are looking for wine buying advice in alternative locations. Wine Bloggers Conference, where bloggers, professional writers, and wine industry professionals network and learn together, allows us to bridge any perceived gaps while supporting each other and discussing our mutual benefit.

Wine bloggers like wine. We write about wine. We write about the industry. Contributing to this fund, which will in turn encourage more bloggers to attend this groundbreaking event, is a valuable idea for anyone who can see the long term future of the industry and has a forward looking glance.

Those individuals or companies that donate will have their businesses spotlighted on this blog, and we will make every effort to encourage the winning scholarship recipients to blog about you as well.

-Special thanks to Lisa de Bruin for contributing to this op-ed piece!

One Comment

  1. [...] encouraged to send in an application describing their blog, their financial needs pertaining to the Wine Bloggers Conference, and why they are deserving on sponsorship. The successful wine bloggers are then chosen through a [...]

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