Donor Profile: Dallas Wine Chick, Melanie Ofenloch

Melanie_Times_Ten_400x400Melanie Ofenloch, The Dallas Wine Chick, has a philosophy – no wine snobs allowed.  While her profession is marketing, and she recently laucnhed her own consulting business, her passion is drinking wine.  She doesn’t consider herself a wine expert – just an everyday person with a love for the grape, a few annual Pilgrimages to wine regions and at the end of each year, an ugly Visa summary to prove it (her words not mine)!

It took Melanie a long time to realize an everyday person (especially her) could write a wine blog.  She admits that she’s not a sommelier, winery owner, wine marketer or wine expert. But, how many of us are experts? Wine is a product that should be discovered, shared and enjoyed.

Her wine roots are humble.  Growing up, Melanie was given a glass of Uncle Louie’s homemade wine, which was quite an experience – and not a good one.  In college, she shared Gallo pink blush jugs with college roommate for weekend parties.  When she was newly married, Melanie and her husband discovered inexpensive Italian wines together.  She took her first trip to Napa, to realize what a great wine could be and found that wine would become a journey of discovery.  Learning about wine has been wonderful, but Melanie believes that experiencing wine is the fun part.

Editor’s Note:

Melanie is an important part of our Scholarship Committee, and we appreciate her contributions on the committee and her donation!  Even after taking the plunge in to self-employement (gee, wonder what that’s like heehee) she has been instrumental in working with the Ethnifacts team to get the Diversity Grant funded, and has helped with PR activities that are essential to the scholarship.  Thank you Melanie for being an enthusiastic part of our team!

Please reach out to Melanie at @dallaswinechick and check out her awesome blog!

Make Them Pay!

With only 63 days left until the 8th annual Wine Bloggers Conference convenes in Buellton, CA, we are still working to make our goal of getting as many wine bloggers there as possible through our Wine Bloggers Conference Scholarship Fund.  As always, there are too many applicants and not enough  funds, but through our Third Annual #MakeThemPay campaign, I hope to change that!

Formerly known as #MakeTomPay, this challenge grant was an idea born of a need for last minute donations to get those applicants approved and on their way to the WBC.  Now in it’s third year, the winning team of Tom Wark, of Fermentation, and Amy Anderson Gross, of have one again combined forces to really blow things out of the water!

Veteran of the wine industry, PR pro and blogger Tom Wark challenged us to raise as much money in the last week of applications as possible.  As such, he will match that donation up to $500.  So you know how this works, it’s a PBS Challenge Grant!  You give $50, he gives $50, and you get a groovy pledge gift (see awesome wine glasses).

But, there’s more!  Amy, who has now created a new wine app called Wine4Me, has challenged the challenge.  If we get our $500, and Tom gives his $500, Amy and Wine4Me will give us another $500!  So you see the new math here:  $500 = $1500.


So now is the time!  If you were at all considering donating to the Scholarship, which by the way is a 501c tax deductible donation through our partner Enobytes, now is the time!  Triple the funding you can provide with #MakeThemPay!

This will be Amy’s third WBC, and the first as Wine4.Me.  This new app takes the guesswork out of buying wine, using objective characterization by industry-tested wine evaluators (including some of our very own wine bloggers), sensory science and a patent-pending personal preference algorithm..  There are literally hundreds of wine apps out there but I think this one might be something special.  I can’t wait to test it out myself!  Make sure you stop by and find Wine4.Me’s posse in Buellton.

Tom is a veteran of all 7 previous WBCs and is always a great conversationalist about the state of the industry.  the small group that has earned his Veteran badge ribbon.  We are down to 6 in this illustrious crew, and Tom is a great memeber of that team.  Make sure you ask him aobut how he feels about wine laws!

Donate today via this handy paypal link, and make sure add the memo “Make Them Pay up!” so we can keep track.  You can keep track of our progress with the handy thermometer on the right hand sidebar of the blog.

Thanks for your support!

Bring it people!

Editor’s Note:  At time of press, we have exceeded our highest exceptions.  We have already raised $720 since last night!  What do you say, can we make it $1000?


Donor Profile: Megan Kenney

Photo on 2013-05-04 at 12.05 #5This is a little awkward. In that no one tells you that you have toilet paper hanging from your shoe sort of way. I’m writing my own donor profile for the WBC Scholarship page.  In any event, I’m Megan Kenney, aka Sonadora, aka Wannabe Wino.  I’ve been a part of the WBC Scholarship since its inception, as Thea’s partner in crime in brainstorming the original idea and getting it off the ground. I’ve also been a donor every year (I think, right Thea??) and I’ve been on the Scholarship Committee for at least 2 years, maybe more.  So basically I’m a jack of all trades.

I’m also a wine blogger, at it nearly 7 years now. I’ve been an attendee at all but one WBC (I have an excuse, I was pregnant for the one I missed) and hope to continue attending for many years to come. Can I salute myself? That would make this even more awkward, right? Instead, I’ll just say that I’m honored to be a part of this effort and to be able to contribute to helping folks make the WBC a possibility. Oh, and P.S. Please come see me and Thea and Kathleen Rake make fools of ourselves on our panel at WBC this year.

Meet your committee!

Happy May everyone!  Just a quick note to say thank you to all of our donors for making this scholarship possible.  Also, thank you to all of our applicants and recipiants.  It’s a difficult job, and once again, we are excited to see everyone in Penticton.

Now, you maybe wondering who your committee is!  I was remiss is not posting this sooner, and there will be detailed bios coming.  The committee members include previous recipiants and bloggers, and are always attendees at the current year’s WBC.  It’s a lot of work, and we aren’t paid, so a huge should out to my stellar team!

Thea Dwelle – Co-Founder, Scholarship Chair 

Megan Kenney – Co-Founder, Committee Member

James Melendez – Committee Member

Monica Mohler – Committee Member


For more details please see About the Commitee!


Welcome to Penticton!

The 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference will take place June 6-8 in Penticton, British Columbia. Up to 400 citizen wine bloggers, industry bloggers, and other wine and social media professionals will gather from throughout the world to meet, learn, and share at this, the sixth annual conference.

Penticton is beautifully situated on two lakes, with hills on all sides, and vineyards on the lakeshore bluffs. It even has an old railroad bed converted into a trail that starts in town, overlooks the lake, and runs through vineyards. The Okanagan Valley wine-growing region runs from Kelowna in the north down through Penticton, Oliver, and Osoyoos, just above the Washington border. It is a long, beautiful valley with hills on both sides and there are sections where the vineyards around Oliver where vineyards cover the hillsides.

The Wine Bloggers Conference Scholarship was founded in 2009 to provide well established “citizen bloggers” with a stipend so they can attend the wine bloggers conference, further their knowledge, their network, the wine blogging community and the wine industry as a whole.

As, unfortunately, not all who wish to attend can afford the costs associated with the conference, the scholarship was established to assist in this effort. The citizen blogger scholarship recipients are bloggers who are not affiliated with a winery or other company in the wine industry with a demonstrated financial need. Specific attention is paid to bloggers who post regularly, have never attended the conference before and who might be students with a particular focus in wine.

The weekend of June 6-9, 2013 hundreds of wine bloggers, new media leaders, and wine industry members will gather in Penticton, British Columbia, for the sixth annual North American Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC) the premier conference for new media and the wine industry. For the first time the WBC will cross international lines as it travels to Canada’s newest wine growing region for this three-day symposium that builds on our past successes and brings attendees a unique opportunity to learn about and discuss the intersection of wine with the world of new media including blogging, social media, and more.

I’m pleased to say that hte applications are now OPEN!

To be considered for a bloggership, please complete the required fields on the form here.  Emailed applications will not be accepted.  WBC Scholarship Application

Applicants are asked to describe their blog, their financial need pertaining to the conference, and why they are deserving of sponsorship. Stipends are awarded through a committee selection process based on the above mentioned focus criteria.

Funds are generated by donations from participating wineries and other industry entities as well as generous individuals. In 2011, the scholarship fund assisted 14 wine bloggers from the USA and Europe to attend the Wine Bloggers Conference in Charlottesville, VA. With an average personal donation of $100, and corporate sponsorship of $300, the scholarship fund raised over $8500. 100% of the funds supported the scholarships and bloggers received an average of $800 to attend the conference including registration, travel costs and accommodations.

Thanks to a partnership with Enobytes, the Wine Bloggers Conference Scholarship Fund is accepting donations as a US based 501(c) non profit organization. This means, that you can donate to the scholarship fund TAX FREE (subject to your tax professional’s advice of course). Donations are accepted via our donor page personal or corporate check (please let us know if you prefer this option as there are some specific rules for the 501c).

For more information about the scholarship, please see our Press Release here.


Donor & Committee member – Megan Riley

Megan Kenney and I originally founded the WBC Scholarship in 2009, after we found several of our blogging friends were unable to attend the conference due to economic circumstances.  Since then, she has been a staunch supporter, a partner in crime (ok well wine tasting at least), and an all around great friend.

While blogging for Wannabe Wino, she balances a busy full time job for the government with being a mom.  Oh, and did I mention the most prolific wine blogger out there?

Megan first fell in love with wine, and Sonoma wine in particular, when visiting for her honeymoon several years ago.  A life long wine drinker, this true installed a passion in her.  Arriving home with several cases of wine, she wanted to learn what other people thought of the wines she discovered.  She didn’t find much information on the wines, but she did find a lot of wine blogs.  Hooked immediately, she started writing Wannabe Wino.

Thank you for your continued support and shared brain cells!
Please drop by and say hello to Megan!



Committee member: Joe Roberts

Joe Roberts, aka 1 Wine Dude, used to be a total wine dunce.  He is now a wine consultant and musician in the greater Philadelphia area, and authors a freelance wine column for

Joe holds the Level 2 (Intermediate, with Distinction) and Level 3 (Advanced, with Merit) Certificates in Wine & Spirits from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) in England.  He’s a member of the U.S.-based Society of Wine Educators, holding their Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) qualification.  He also holds the Wine Location Specialist (WLS) qualification from the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) and the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto (IVDP), and is a member of the Wine Century Club.

Joe has blasted off from being a wine blogger to a wine writer and consultant, and is a founding member of our community.  His blog is trying to educate the consumer on how to be their own personal wine geek, without going over the top, spending a ton of money, or being a jackass about it.

We thank you for your support with the WBC Scholarship!

Donor Profile: Lorie Perone

Lorie Perrone is not only a donor, she is also one of our Committee members, and was a Wine Blogger Scholarship recipiant last year!  She is the triple threat, who calls herself a professional amateur wine expert.

Lorie has been an independent wine consultant for several years, and also worked in sales for an importer and retailer.  Wine to Lorie is akin to the game of golf – once the bug catches you it becomes a lifelong pursuit. Her personal goal is to taste as many different wines as she can, and continue to learn more about them along the way.

In 2011, she enrolled as a member of the Society of Wine Educators in pursuit of her CSW (certified specialist in wine). One of the highlights of that year was being able to attend the Wine Bloggers Conference in 2011 in Charlottesville, VA, due to the Wine Bloggers Scholarship efforts.  She found the experience was extraordinary, and wrote about it for us here.  At the WBC, Lorie was able to bond with a community of like minded individuals, and make enduring friendships with people all over the country.  While in awe of the wine knowledge all around her, she still felt as if she really belong amongst them and had something to contribute.  That is my primary mission as the Chair of the Scholarship Committee – to allow bloggers of all types to experience that feeling.

After a 20+ year career in the newspaper industry, Lorie was unemployed and trying to increase her social media skills and wine knowledge, in the hopes that it would lead to some new career path. After her trip to the WBC, she has been able to parlay that expertise in to freelance writing assignments, including regular contributions to the Palate PressExaminer.comFruit Growers News, as well as a full time copy writing position in tourism marketing for the Greater merrimack Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau.  With this job, she can imbibe her passion for wine, writing, and travel planning.  Congrats on your accomplishments Lorie!

We salute you and your amazing year, and thank you for both your financial support of the scholarship, as well as helping us select this year’s recipiants!

Please stop by and say hi to Lorie at Wining Ways, on Facebook, and Twitter!  She is also available to conduct private in-home wine tastings, tastings for charitable events and fundraisers, corporate appreciation events, seminars, and guided wine trail tours.