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Blogger Profile: Kayla Koroush of The Barrel Theif

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Photo courtesy of Wilfred Wong, all rights reserved.

Kayla Koroush, the California Barrel Thief, wants to show you how to pair wine with French fries!  Blogging since 2013, Kayla Koroush’s approach is that wine, and the knowledge that comes along with it, should be accessible to everyone. She wishes to “push the industry in front of the people and show them the artistry and passion”. She also aims to take the pompousness out of wine by delivering content that is relatable and relevant in all walks of life.

Her passion for wine came through winery visits. Those visits turned into a deeper curiosity and she left her job as a preschool teacher to work in the wine industry.

This is Kayla’s first WBC. Read more about her at Le Barrel Theif or follow

her on Twitter at @CABarrelThief!

Corporate Donor: Craig Camp of Cornerstone Cellars

Writing a profile for Craig Camp of Cornerstone Cellars. Quite alright though, I’m a huge fan of Craig, so I certainly don’t mind singing his praises every year! Craig was one of the first wine bloggers I “met” via the wine internet world. He got me press passes to an event nearly 8 years ago when no one had really heard of wine bloggers and certainly didn’t consider them press!

Craig has been a long time and fervent supporter of wine bloggers and the Wine Blogger Scholarship. We appreciate his enthusiasm for what we do and his continued support of our scholarship.

As always, we looked forward and enjoyed seeing Craig at the conference!

 

Cornerstone

Blogger Profile: Amy Corron Power of Another Wine Blog

Why do I love Amy Corron Power? Let me count the ways. One, she’s a fellow wine blogging attorney. Two, she’s super smart. Three, she’s damn funny. Four, she is one half a really awesome wine blog, Another Wine Blog.  Five, she and her husband Joe make me completely jealous on Twitter tastings with their amazing food pairings. I’m sure I could keep going for quite some time, but that would become nauseating.

Amy is the recipient of a WBC Scholarship this year, after many years as a staunch supporter of and donor to the fund. We’re delighted that she was chosen and look forward to her always fabulous insights into the conference.

Donor Profile: Debbie is a Happy Bitch and the Hudson Valley Wine Goddess!

webemailusefinal227 copyDebbie Gioquindo is a remarkable woman with many hats! This generous donor is not only the co-
founder of Happy Bitch Wines, but is also a Certified Travel Counselor, a Certified Specialist of Wine, and a wine location specialist. She spins her craft through her wine blog Hudson Valley Wine Goddess with the primary mission of educating folks about wine.

With a strong background in Marketing, Debbie also consults for wineries and other small business for their marketing and social media needs, while also conducting wine tastings and wine seminars to promote wine education in the Hudson Valley and beyond.

As if she didn’t already have so much on her plate, Debbie is also the chairperson of the Hudson Valley Wine & Spirits Competition that is takes place every year at the Hudson Valley Wine Festival.

Follow Debbie on Facebook and Twitter and find her at WBC!

Thank you, Debbie, for your generous and continued support of the WBC Scholarship!

Blogger Profile: Stay-At-Home-Mom (SAHM) with a passion for wine!

Blogging for the last 2.5 years, Alissa is the one and only SAHMmelier!  This former teacher-come-stay-at-
home-mom (and award-winning poet!), Alissa has a passion for wine, food, and education. Through  her blog, SAHMmelier, Alissa aims to make wine approachable. As a foodie, she enjoys experimenting with food and wine pairings and provides recipes to her readers.  As a mom, she likes to add in a little heart-felt humor or sentimental struggles, as any parent would understand.

After being involved with a strong and active community of Women Wine Writers online, Alissa is looking forward to the opportunity to meet and interact in person with many of those she calls her inspirations and mentors.

Finally, Alissa is based in the Texas Hill Country, so attending the WBC will give her the opportunity to introduce and promote Texas wine.

Let’s give Alissa a warm welcome to the WBC family! Follow her on Facebook: and Twitter and give her a shout out at the conference!

 

Corporate Donor: Amy Anderson Gross makes Wine4.me!

Wine4.MeAmy Gross has been a friend of the WBC Scholarship for 3 years, and this year – she’s pulling double duty with Wine4.Me, as both an event sponsor and a Scholarship donor!  Amy has been a driving force in the challenge grant program we have – called #MakeThemPay.  We salute you for your enthusiasm and support of bloggers and wine! 

Wine4.Me is a new app that allows wine drinkers to find wines they like easily, by selecting characteristics of your favorite wines and creating your personal taste profile.  From that profile, you will get a list of other wines that you are likely to enjoy.  Pretty cool right?  Co-Founder and CSO Michael Tompkins, our head science guru, heads this part of Wine4.Me and he’s the one who developed the algorithm that makes Wine4.Me possible. Our team worked with sensory scientists, winemakers, and winery owners to develop our patent-pending system of evaluation. Then, we recruited some of the best wine evaluates in the country to evaluate the wines in our database. We called on more winemakers, wine educators, wine writers, sommeliers and more to evaluate the wines, and then we tested them.

The best part about Wine4.Me is that selections featured are widely available nationally, so you know you will be ablet to find something you like based on the recommendations.  While there are many wine recommendation apps out there, this is a great feature of Wine4.Me.

Amy, the co-founder and CEO of Wine4.Me, is also the brain behind Vine Sleuth Uncorked, a popular wine blog that covers everything from local wine events, to tasting notes, and travel experiences.

Thank you Amy & team for your support, and be sure to check out Wine4.Me as well as Amy on Twitter and Facebook!

Wine4.Me twitter facebook
Vine Sleuth twitter facebook

 

 

Corporate Donor Profile: Rodney Strong’s Dynamic Duo

_MG_1729Robert Larsen public relations guru extraordinaire, director of communications for Rodney Strong Vineyards and emcee of the winery’s blending events.  Robert Larsen has been a friend of the Wine Blogger’s Conference since the beginning, missing only one year (Editor’s Note:  sorry you’re still not a veteran!) in the 8 year history.  He’s known for providing great wines, hosting ‘must attend’ after parties and being an all around great guy to be around.

He’s been in the PR industry since the early 90s in the wine industry.  Robert is born and bred in northern California’s wine country. and is all about the discovery and development of a genuine message that makes a story resonate.  He’s also a home winemaker, gardener and cook.

Together with his partner in PR crime, Rachel Voorhees, erstwhile Social Media Manager for Rodney Strong, mommy blogger, and somm, these two make a powerful duo that spread the message of Rodney Strong’s brands and history.

 

Did you know that it’s the 25th anniversary of Rodney Strong Vineyards?  Celebrate with Rachel & Robert at WBC!

10325715_10152147268201482_5272434950427070960_n (1)Editor’s Note:  Thanks to the generous support of Rodney Strong Vineyards, we are able to provide stemless souvenir glasses at the conference this year! Please stop by the WBC Scholarship table on Thursday night or find us over the weekend to purchase your glass.  If you have donated, or wish to donate $50 or more, we will gift you a pair of these glasses to take home!

 Look for Robert in Buellton or reach out to him on Twitter.
Rachel can be found behind the @RSVineyards and @davisbynumwines handles, as well as her own Twitter handle.

 

 

 

 

Go Go Gadget!

Here we are!  It’s prime WBC Scholarship season, and we couldn’t do it without you.  For those that have supported our Scholarship in the past, we salute you.

After 7 Wine Bloggers Conferences, and six successful Scholarship years, we have learned a lot.  One thing we have learned is that hotels have pretty sad hospitality glasses for big tastings.  While I understand that it’s hard to have 300+ Riedels or other glasses on hand for these large tastings, I also know that as a wine professional and wine lover, I demand a certain level of stemware when I’m tasting wine and evaluating them. The hotel glass is something of a curse at these conferences, and after hearing many comments (and seeing it, as well as my own thoughts) about the lack of appropriate stemware, we have decided to offer a new fundraising feature this year.

 

For the fisrt time, we have WBC Scholarship logo glasses available for sale for $5, and as a thank you gift (think PBS Pledge Break) for anyone who donates over $50.

 

So get to it!

 

185 days until WBC14 in Santa Barbara!

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 July 11-13, 2014, hundreds of wine bloggers, social media educators and leaders, and wine industry members will gather in Buellton, California for the seventh 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.

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 2012, the scholarship fund assisted wine bloggers in attending the Wine Bloggers Conference in Penticton, British Columbia.  This international event brought wine writers from all over the world, bringing new light to the wine industry in the region, and creating wine tourism memories to last a lifetiem.  One hundred percent of the funds supported the scholarships and bloggers received an average of $1000 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).

What we need:

We are looking for donations, of any size, that will go in to a fund to be awarded to bloggers based on need, length of blogging history, and written statements of why they qualify for assistance and wish to attend.

 

We give preference to established citizen bloggers, students in wine (MBA, BA, enology, viticulture, business administration), and bloggers who have never attended a Wine Bloggers Conference before.

 

We ask that corporate sponsors donate a minimum of $95, which covers the registration fee for a citizen blogger (though we gratefully accept ANY donation, large or small!).

 

What you get in return:

Premier Sponsors (donations of $1,000+) will receive free advertising on both Enobyes (banner ads) and my personal blog, as well as the WBC Scholarship site. These are to be formatted and scheduled dates will be chosen at the agreement of both parties.

You will also receive a write up on the WBC Scholarship Fund blog outlining your business and why you believe in bloggers and the conference.

 

In addition, we ask each winner to write a post stating what the WBC meant to them, what they learned, and personally thanking each donor.

 

In 2012, for the first time, we will be hosting a Sponsor table, where the WBC Scholarship Committee and former recipients will be available to answer questions, pour your wine or share your business information, and interact with the attendees.  This is a fantastic opportunity for you to present your company to over 300 industry & blogger attendees during the “Meet the Sponsors” event.

 

If you attend the WBC, you will also get a flashy new “Corporate Sponsor” ribbon for your badge that identifies you to our attendees as someone who supports bloggers.  Each recipient will also have a badge identifying them, and they will be seeking out sponsors and individual donors for personal introductions.

 

For more information, please contact info@wbcscholarship.com or visit http://wbcscholarship.com/america.

 

Housekeeping

There have been a lot of conversations lately, back alley, direct, and otherwise, that have brought some things to my attention concerning our little scholarship effort.

First, I would like to take the time to remind everyone who is participating, either as a donor, a selection committee member, or an applicant, as well as former recipients, that this scholarship is entirely run on passion juice and volunteers.  We are not paid for our time or otherwise; we simply believe in this idea.  We are not a legal entity nor are we legally bound to the Wine Bloggers Conference.  We have a close affiliation with them and they are extraordinarily helpful in assisting us but it is not a tie that binds.

We are a grass roots effort.  This is learning by doing and the doing takes a ridiculous amount of work to accomplish.  This is also an honor system.  As the chair, I – as well as the selection committee – can only rely on the information provided to me by the applicants.  We do not have any direct visibility in to the financial records of any applicant.  We cannot make any decisions based on information that is not provided.  Furthermore, we cannot make any decisions based on any outside influence, such as recipients attending press events, or trips planned by other agencies.  We simply do not have visibility in to this.

It is an extraordinarily difficult task to both raise enough funding and to find the appropriate recipients for that funding.  I myself, as the chair, do not score any applicants as I am responsible for finding out how to best allocate funding based on the scores provided by the committee.  While we do give preferential thought to those bloggers that have not attended a WBC before, this does not always guarantee a scholarship grant.

Because there are several factors that go in to the final decision, a person with a higher score might not secure a spot before a person with a lower overall score.  For example, we start with the highest score first.  Next, we look at total financial need.  We also look at if they require accommodation assistance.  Based on these factors, we then try to maximize the funding available by slotting in as many people as possible.  If you request $300, and three additional people request $95 each, it is possible that one or more of the three people requesting $95 each would secure a spot prior to the person requesting $300, solely based on the available funding.  Additionally, we look closely at accommodation requests.  As we purchase rooms on behalf of the recipients, we need to fill a double occupancy room.  Let’s say a male with a score of 750 (let’s say that’s the highest out of all applicants) gets the first slot automatically, by virtue of him being the highest score.  If there are 4 females and 1 male left on the roster, the next male gets that spot first as we need to fill the room.  Failure to do so results in a funding deficit as we are paying for an empty bed in a room.

However, while every effort is made to ensure that we can fund as many applicants as possible, sometimes, the selection process has to sacrifice quantity for quality.  Many high scoring and high financial need requests might result in fewer scholarship recipients as we try to look for bloggers that are new to the community, and new to the conference.  As we have no idea what is going on outside of the Scholarship, this can be a judgement call but it is based on the information provided.  Again, this is strictly an honor system.  If Joey went to Pluto on a press junket, we aren’t sent the newpaper clipping so we have no way of knowing this; nor should this factor in our decision.  Prior or planned press trips have no bearing on financial need as stated by the applicant.  As these trips are funded by the agency or brand, the blogger is not financial responsible.

We also do not personally know the applicants.  While there may be some prior friendships amongst the committee and applicants, as the committee is formed prior to the applications being received, we cannot make that determination ahead of time.  We do our best to be impartial and if a committee member feels strongly that they are not able to be impartial, they are free to and encouraged to recuse themselves.  There are thousands of wine blogs out there.  We have seen over 100 applicants over the last 4 years.  In the beginning, I knew one applicant.  Now, I know most of them from past years.  This year I know 3.  It’s an impossibility to know if our friends, enemies or family will apply until after they do so.  This is why we have at least 6 committee members scoring, to average out the numbers.

It is an imperfect system but it is the best we can do and similar to any judging scenario.  Moving forward we will shake this up a bit.  If and when there is a WBC 2013 Scholarship program, which due to economical and emotional reason may not happen, we will weight first time attendees more heavily than in previous years.  This does not exclude repeat attendees however.  In the interest of transparancy, please see our selection criteria here.

Additionally, the question has been posed if we should disqualify any blogger who has previously received a scholarship.  I will not vote on this as it’s more important what YOU the blogging public and donors think, so please let me know.  If you have received funding (any at all?  Maximum allowed lifetime amount?) should you be barred from applying again?  PLEASE VOTE HERE  Do you have additional feedback about the Scholarship?  Please use the form above to submit your questions, comments, and concerns.

Sincerely

The Management