WBC 2010 Announced – Walla Walla Washington!

wbcThis past weekend, while 250 bloggers, PR reps, and winery individuals gathered at The Flamingo in Santa Rosa for the 2009 North American Wine Bloggers Conference, it was announced that the 2010 Conference will be in Walla Walla, Washington.  Amidst much buzz, this is both an exciting time and a challenging one.

The Walla Walla wine culture kicked off in 1977 when the first modern winery was established.   In 1984, the region was formally recognized as a unique American Viticultural Area (AVA). Since then, the region has grown in to a world class growing region.  I persoally am excited about the prospect of discovering Walla Walla and its wines, but I know it will present unique challenges to many wishing to attend the WBC next year.

Any area that is not in your backyard is going to present it’s own set of challenges, and given the requests for scholarship assistance at this years conference, I would like to kick of the 2010 WBC Scholarship program as early as possible.

To that end I am seeking Regional Ambassadors! That’s right.  We want you!  What I need is your assistance reaching out to your local wine and web 2.0 community to garner interest in and solicit scholarship donations to assist Citizen Bloggers in attending the 2010 WBC in Walla Walla.  No donation is too small, and we recognize that this is a challenging time.  However, given the exposure that 250+ bloggers, industry professionals and PR Reps can generate, it’s probably the cheapest advertising you can get these days.

If you feel like you have a good network of local businesses, wine people, PR agencies, individuals, and others who are interesing in blogging and how it relates to social media and media today, please shoot me a line at wbcscholarship at gmail dot com.  I would love to see some cross posts on your blogs, and a firestorm of interest generated before the end of 2009.  Many people have already signed up for the Walla Walla WBC, and we need to be smart about our planning!

I am also looking for selection committe members, to assist if necessary in the selection of scholarship recipients.  This year we were extremely fortunate in that we were fully funded, so everyone who applied got some grant money.  Next year, we would like to to be the case, but if we need to narrow down the applicant pool, I need to have additional team members since I do not want to have any bias in the process.

We are accepting donations to our NON 501C TOTALLY VOLUNTARY Scholarship program now.  There are no perks to this scholarship, just the knowledge that you are helping to further the newest media method there is:  The blogger.  Whether we choose video, text, pictures or a combination, blogging is morphing in to the most buzz worthy ad source there is.  Get on the bus or get off the highway!

If you want to donate please use the Pay Pal link below.  We will also be accepting donations by checks (details to follow).

And the winner is!

The WBC is only 37 days away!

I can hardly believe it, and I’m so excited.  Considering that the registrations are now full, I am very pleased to announce that the WBC Scholarship Fund has been able to help 11 bloggers get to the WBC this year!  We currently have 2 people on our waiting list, and who knows what next year might bring.

On that note, I’d like to profusely thank all of the donors, but also tell you a little bit about the recipients.  Some of these folks you might know, some you might not, and some preferred to remain nameless.  Check out their blogs!  Get to know them!  Seek them out at WBC 09!

Rick Bakasis a wine and food blogger dedicated to the education around how and why wine and food pair together.  A labor of love, Rick tweets and blogs about the best wine pairings, recipes, and all things social media!  After creating and managing brands for 8 years at NIKE, Rick made the lifestyle choice to move in to the wine business.  Lucky him!

Shea Coulson -Just Grapes is a blog all about providing a non-commercial perspective on wines available in the British Columbia market. Shea also would like to help promote and build Vancouver’s small wine blogging community.  I’m glad to welcome Shea to the WBC Canadians, along with Brad

ley Cooper, Kathleen Rake and Karen Gurney BC Club at WBC!

Grace Hoffman – is the one of the driving forces behind Wine Beagles, a wine review application on Facebook.  Grace is also working on her own wine blog, CellarMistress, which will be out soon.  The goal of this new website is to help smaller and family owned wineries in California, Washington and Oregon get their story out there to the public – which is a passion of mine as well!  As Grace pointed out, some of these places are amazing and it’s important to promite them.

Dale Cruise – is a Massachusetts-based website developer and wine writer who is helping to change the wine world.  Dale has been quoted in many publications such as the WSJ, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Stars and Stripes.  Dale as also had pieces appear in The Second Glass, Bostonist, Eat Drink or Die, and Boston.com.  Dale is actively involved in the wine community and has appeared on  Wine Library TV taped in Boston, and is a member of the Boston Wine Writers.  His blog has been described as a daily journal of what Dale is drinking, and he also keeps a terrific list of who’s who on Twitter in the wine blogging world.

Ryan Reichert – Ryan’s blog is about exploring wine, wineries, wine regions, and other wine related topics in a simple, laid back, non-pretentious manner. I really want to encourage all my readers to not let wine make them uncomfortable, and to trust their palates – regardless as to what they think their abilities are. I get some of the best tasting terminology from people who have no wine background at all.  As a millennial, he has been interested in wine for over 2 years, and is excited about the opportunity to network with winos and bloggers alike.

Bean Fairbanks blogs about news, reviews and events pertaining to the quality wines and beers of Washington state.  Wine Beer Washington shares their passion about wine and food, to help Washington wineries and breweries promote their product and citizens to learn about the delicious bounty available.  Bean has also taught online blogging courses, and is a great asset to the blogging community.

Russ Beebe – chronicles anecdotes, photoessays and California wine country experiences from the hiking trail to the tasting room.  Russ specializes in leading hiking tours through wine regions in the Bay Area and beyond.  The blog has grown beyond Russ’ expectations, and has opened many doors doors toward meeting and discovering new winemakers, wines, technologies, and like-minded souls across the globe.  A tech writer by day, a wine hiker by night, this will be Russ’ second WBC and we look forward to his energy!

Doug Levy – is the author of A Marin Foodie’s Diary, which is a chronicle of both wine and food finds in and around Marin County.  Doug uses this as a platform to engage in wine discussions with friends and others from around the gastronome.  A former USA Today reporter, Doug has traveled the world enjoying great food and wine from street vendors to four-star restaurants.

Mark Buckley is a budding Napa Valley Winemaker and Enophile.  Mark has been in the wine business for over 10 years, and is currently getting his Enology Winemaking degree.  Mark started his wine career by making wine labels and then branched into my own Printing and Graphics company in 2005.  He currently does upscale events and enrolled to become a certified sommelier this summer.

Janesta Downey – Janesta is one of the newest members of the BrixChick blogging triad!  After spending 20 years in technology, she is taking some time off to drink and learn about wine.    She is enjoying her adventures and is excited about becoming a part of the blogging community.

Here little birdy!

flamingo

I would like to thank our host hotel, The Flamingo Hotel & Resort. for putting up a pack of wild wine bloggers for a 2nd year in a row.  Say what you will about the location discussion, The Flamingo did a fantastic job hosting us last year and has also been helpful this year.  Given that the WBC Scholarship Fund is trying to

stretch resources to make sure all bloggers who want to attend the WBC can attend the WBC, The Flamingo has helped us find rooms and work within our budgets.

Additionally, despite an...interesting…stay during Barrel Tasting, when security was apparently called at 11pm because we were talking (grrrr), last summer’s stay and another recent stay for Passport to Dry Creek were very nice experiences indeed.  During Passport, we were warmly greeted with a great sense of humor, and had a great stay.  Thanks to some help from Inside Sonoma, we scored a Deluxe

Double room for a great rate, and had a centrally located hotel, that we knew and were happy with.

The Flamingo has a long history in Sonoma County.  Startin gin 1959, the hotel was known to be the place to go by the Hollywood set, when visiting Northern California.  Movies stars (like Jayne Mansfield below) often lounged by the pool and were seen being seen.

The outFlamingo Signside might appear to be a bit dated, which can either add or take away from its charm depending on the audience, but hte rooms are fully modern and fully comfortable.  The Historical Landmark was orignially designed to be a replica of the Las Vegas

Flamingo icon, dsigned by George Vernon Russell, a well known modernist architech of the 50s.

The Scholarship Committee thanks The Flamingo for thier support!

Donating: What's in it for me?

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!

Introducing the WBC Scholarship Fund!

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 this July in Santa Rosa.

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

Megan Riley Kenney @sonadora – wine blogger

Liza Swift @brixchick_liza – wine blogger

Joel Vincent @joelvincent – wine industry professional and Wine Blogger Conference Organizer

Ward Kadel @drxeno – wine blogger West Coast Ambassador, WineLog.net

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, as well as 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.  Individual donors will receive a commemorative Wine Bloggers Conference Charm for their efforts!  These custom wine charms are handmade with wine love by Thea.

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

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