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?


Make Tom pay, AGAIN!

This just in! Amy, The Vine Sleuth wil lalso be matching Tom’s match!  Tha’ts right, Tom’s 500 smackers are worth $1000!  We can do this!  With 15 applications, we NEED you!  Please make your tax deductible donation TODAY!

These two extremely generous supporters will be on hand in Penticton, wearing handy dandy “Donor” badges.  Don’t you want to be cool like them?  Make it happen!



Do you remember last year?  When we were all excited to be meandering on up to Portland for the 2012 Wine Bloggers Conference?  Well, at the time, we were pushing hard to get some donations, to support the bloggers who applied for a bloggership to attend the conference.

Luckily, support, wine PR professional, and wine blogger, Fermentation’s Tom Wark, has challenged the wine blogging community once again this year.  Tom, who has supported blogging, and this scholarship for many years, has issued an edict for you – my dear bloggers – to support our scholarship by donating up to $500.  Like a PBS pledge drive, if you meet this goal, we here at the scholarship benefit doubly!

In this matching challenge, Tom will donate an equal amount (up to a cap of $500).  I can’t tell you how far this will go!

To participate in this challenge, please donate today!  Be sure to add “Make Tom Wark pay!” in the memo, so we know that this is a matching challenge.

Every $5 counts (err well ok if could be $10 if you all chip in) so please, dig deep and help make Tom pay!  Donate today via this handy paypal link, and make sure you email us with the subject line “Make Tom Pay up!” so we can keep track of the challenge grant!

Bring it people!





Blogger Profile: Shawn Burgert

Shawn Burgert likes to wander as he wines.  His blog, the Wandering Wino, is designed to a helpful and informative place where wine travellers can find information on tasting rooms, but also find out more about the culture of wine.

Shawn is a creative and entertaining writer, and likes to write on topics that stand out from the crowd.  He seeks to create thought provoking content that the rest of the pack isn’t talking about!  that’s fairly difficult given the thousands of wine blogs, but I love the style.  Did I mention he also has mad photography skills?

Growing up working in the restaurant industry, he developed a Champagne taste on a beer budget.  While working his way to a Level 1 Somm certificate, Shawn tries to maintain his grounded identity, and stays in touch with his inner wino, while sticking to a budget (sometimes?).

His wit and sarcasm are appreciated, and he has built a community of readers on both Wandering Wino as well as Mi Wine Barrel.  Narrowly missing out on the festivities in Charlottesville last year, Shawn watched intently as he was benched from engaging with his wine blogger posse.  He is excited to be participating in this years conference so he can learn more about social media, Oregon wine, and the wine blogging community.  He is also looking forward to meeting  the many people that he has connected with online keeps him from going crazy as we count down the days.

We look forward to having you in Oregon!  Please stop by and say hi!  Check out the wandering wino here:



Blogger profile: Helene Kremer

Helen Kremer, a busy mom and legal professional, is also a freelance writer.  With her own blog A Taste of Grace – l”espirit de vin, she can focus in food & wine.  She has been enjoying wine for years, and now gets to share what she’s learned about wine, and herself with her readers.

Helene is especially looking forward to attending WBC in Portland for the infusion of ideas, inspiration, and education that the other bloggers can give her, and help her improve her craft.

A Taste of Grace hopes to help you get to know yourself, and to drink what you like not what you’re told.  Rules?  What rules!

We look forward to sharing the Wine Bloggers Conference with you Helene!

Please stop by and say hello!



Donor Profile: Debbie Gioquindo, the Hudson Valley Wine Goddess

Debbie Gioquindo is the Hudson Valley Wine Goddess.  What started out as an interest turned into a passion and that was the beginning says Debbie.

Debbie’s background is in marketing, and she has worked for a local TV and radio station, as well as owning a travel agency (one that focuses on sending people to the wine regions of the world).  She has also worked as a wine marketing consultant to the wineries in the Hudson Valley.

Beyond her wine career, Debbie has worked for a regional health insurance company doing community relations and social media marketing, until being downsized in February 2011. While on twitter deciding what she wanted to do with the rest of my life, she saw a tweet by @TheHappyBitch, a collegue, and so became a partnership made in Hudson Valley Wine heaven.

Wine has always been a passion of hers, and in 2006 Debbie began blogging about wine focusing on the wine region she grew up in – The Hudson River Valley region.  In 2010 she became a Certified Specialist of Wine, and in 2012 Debbie earned her Wine Location Specialist designation in Champagne and Port.

Debbie has been supporting the WBC Scholarship for several years, and we truly appreciate her support.  She has met some wonderful people and created great friendships through the wine blogging community and have learned a lot from them as well.  She feels that there is no better way to give back than to give another aspiring wine blogger a chance to network, learn and create new relationships by attend the Wine Bloggers Conference.


Debbie lives in Hudson Valley with her husband Paul, two children and dog. She is still looking for a day job to support her wine habit, but we’re happy she is a proud member of our wine blogging family!  We salute you Debbie, and thank you for your continued appreciation and support our our Scholarshp Fund!

Please visit her blog, and say hello to her on twitter!



What I learned at Blogger Camp!

Not too long ago I was a solitary wine enthusiast sojourning in the land of the grape.  My personal circle of friends, family, and colleagues were not on the road with me.  I decided to throw my voice out there, into the ether, as it were.

As a complete newbie I started to read the blog written by my blog host, looking for tips and tricks on how to grow audience for my blog, WiningWays. The first light bulb moment was the advice to engage. Engage your intended audience every way you can.

My wine epiphany was no spiffy 1961 Cheval Blanc moment.  After many youthful memories of Boones Farm, Mateus, and Lancer’s from the 70’s I left wine behind until a simple retail shop tasting of a Port wine and chocolates. I became hooked on magical pairings. It led me down a path of self-education.

I devoured all of the most popular books by the acknowledged experts – Jancis Robinson, Oz Clarke, Kevin Zraly, Hugh Johnson, Tom Stevenson, etc., etc. From there I landed a job with an Italian wine importer and was able to learn the business from the wholesale point of view. It was a great opportunity to learn about the incredible number of different varieties grown in Italy. I started conducting tasting for people who knew even less than I did about wine. I would get a lot of the same questions time after time. This led me to start writing a blog.

It was still within my first month of blogging that a fellow blogger (Amanda Maynard, The Wine-ing Woman) I discovered lived near me told me that there was a wine bloggers conference and that there were scholarships available.  The deadline was coming up and I was never known to be on the good side of timing but somehow I managed to snag one of these scholarships.

In preparation for the conference I started reading other bloggers’ content. At first I felt incredibly inadequate.  So many people have so much knowledge and have a much broader experience than I do. Still I was receiving good comments on my blog and began to see that I did have something to contribute. There is such a long spectrum of knowledge along the wine trail that there are always going to be some who know more and some who need to know more. So somewhere along this spectrum there was a place for me. This is what I was telling myself leading up the conference in July.

As the weeks went by I began connecting with the other bloggers who were registered to attend. Some lived near me in the northeast. Others lived quite far away. Many lived in Virginia. Some wrote from within the industry – winemakers, tasting room managers, wholesalers, etc. Many wrote reviews, some from a specific point of view, such as only wines under/over certain price point, only French wines, only local regional wines. Everyone appeared to know their voice and where they belonged in the mix. I was just learning. One of my concerns was that I would go to this conference and it would only be people my daughter’s age, the age that hates its moniker – Millenials. I knew there were a good number of bloggers attending who lived in New England and hoped I would get to meet up with them, and that I wouldn’t be twenty years older than everyone else there.

It was encouraging when, while waiting for a connecting flight to board, a woman came up to me holding my picture up on her iPad asking if that was me. She had been doing the same kind of research, checking out the bloggers registered for the conference and I just happened to be sitting there in the same terminal. We both live in Massachusetts. While I knew she was younger than me I felt good that she was older than my daughter. We shared a cab to the hotel.  This is how I met Marie Payton, who writes the Life of Vines blog. She was the first of many great people I met at the conference. Now I participate in the weekly virtual wine tasting chat on Twitter (#winechat) that she co-hosts every Wednesday night at 9 pm EST. You should check it out too.

As a scholarship recipient, I was sharing a room with someone I had only had the opportunity to meet only virtually just a week before. Chandra Savage turned out to be the best roommate and we became fast friends. Her blog and her life’s motto is Mo’ Wine! I also met a fellow WBC Scholarship recipient, who lives not more than a half hour from me.  Jason Phelps was brimming with enthusiasm that was infectious. He is also an amateur winemaker. Having tasted some of his wines I can say he should go pro. His wines are the best I have tasted from a home winemaker. his blog, Ancient Fire Wine, is award winning.  I was in great company!

Reflecting on the event after the conference, it was a great experience and gave back more than I ever expected. I went there with a few virtual friends and now I can say that I have so many new real friends, and an entire community that shares my interest.  We meet at events, both virtual and real; we continually learn from each other.  I feel now like I really do have something to contribute.  I am in awe of the many who know so much more than I do but I know some things too and I really feel that this community accepts all who wine, no matter the level of experience, or place along the journey.

I enjoyed the meet and greets with the winemakers, the seminars, the Virginia hospitality, and the wonderful opportunity to tour and taste at the local vineyards. For the incredibly small cost of registration few conferences will ever offer as much. Even so, having been out of work at the time the conference came around I would not have been able to attend without the help of the WBC Scholarship, and all of the generous donors and sponsors who made it possible. I left full of enthusiasm to pay it forward.

I came away from the conference with so much more than new friends. I have better defined my writing voice and my intentions. I joined the Society of Wine Educators and began studying for my CSW. I have been able to land a few paid writing assignments. I was inspired by the Virginia bloggers and the New York bloggers to write about the wines from my own region and give them support whenever I can. I had no idea, until Eric Asimov spoke, that there was a separation of meaning between blogging and writing. He told us during his keynote speech that bloggers are writers. I was naïve enough to have thought that all along. I suppose that since most people don’t blog according to the rules of the AP Style Manual some see the conversational tone of some blogging in a lesser light but it is writing. Most of the blogs I read do an excellent job of demonstrating voice. I think that is a key element of writing. Of course even this community has a few naysayers, the disenchanted, the snobs, and those getting off the road for a while but they do not dampen the bright enthusiasm of those of us who write for the pure pleasure of it. Many of us provide significant public relations and marketing, and opinions in our blogs as influences for the wine industry and for little or no reward – and we’re ok with that.

If you are a new blogger, wine enthusiast, or you just learned that wine bloggers actually have a conference I heartily encourage you to attend WBC12 in Oregon next summer. You will meet some great people, in an environment where you encounter very little snobbery, and there is room and acceptance for all. I can’t wait to see you there.

I could not have participated without the generous sponsoshop of the WBC Scholarship.  If you would like to help a blogger attend the WBC12 in Portland, please donate today!  No amount is too small.



That’s a wrap!

I still have to finish all of my individual thank yous for all of the support and great bloggers we’re getting to Virginia.

But, with 14 short days left until the 4th Annual Wine Bloggers Conference commences in Charlottesville, I just wanted to make sure that we shared all the good news!

This year, we have fourteen blogger recipiants.  This is a new record!  The Scholarship is in its third year, and I’m seeing the number 20 for next year!

The bloggers are:

  1. Nannette Eaton – Wine Harlots | @wineharlots
  2. Denise Medrano  – The Wine Sleuth | @winesleauthuk
  3. Jason Phelps – Ancient Fire Wine | @ancientfirewine
  4. Rich Reader – VineBuzz | @vinebuzz
  5. Chandra Savage – Mo Wine
  6. Lorie Perrone – Wining Ways
  7. Kris Chislett – Blog Your Wine@krischislett
  8. Douglass Trapasso – Chicago Pinot | @demilove
  9. Raelinn Doty – Wine Ophelia | @raelinn_wine
  10. Bridget Cheslock  – Glamourous Gourmet Girl
  11. Charlotte Chipperfield – The Wine Key
  12. Kathleen Rake – Between the Vines | @kathleenrake
  13. Jon Thorsen – Reverse Wine Snob |@reversewinesnob
  14. Kay Zink – A to Zinfandel

Our corporate sponsors, who have our undying gratitute and support!
Amy Corron Power – Another Wine Blog | @winewonkette
Melanie Ofenrich – Dallas Wine Chick | @melanie0
Joe Herrig – Suburban Wino | @suburbanwino
Liza Swift – Brix Chicks | @brixchicks_liza
Amanda Maynard – Wineing Woman | @wineingwoman
Megan Kenney – Wannabe Wino | @sonadora
Scott Wadlow – The Vino File | @thevinofile
Debbie Gioquindo – Hudson Valley Wine Goddess | @hvwinegoddess

The Committee
Thea Dwelle – Luscious Lushes (yeah ok that’s me but hey, I need blog love too!) | @luscious_lushes
Amy Corron Power – Another Wine Blog | @winewonkette
Jason Mancebo – $20 Wine Blog | @20dollarwine

Congrats to our bloggers and thank you to our donors, and our committee!
Please take a moment to reach out to everyone and say hey.
If you’re in Virginia, come by and see me – I have cool namebag swag!  Each badge ribbon is $2, 3 for $5, and all proceeds go to support the scholarship next year.
We have:


Donor Profile:Megan Kenny really wants to be a wino!~

I think she’s already there myself, but Megan is the Wannabe Wino.  She helped me start the WBC Scholarship 3 years ago, and balances a busy full time job for the government with being a new 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.

Her blog chronicles wine tasting adventures as she and her husband (and new daughter) drink thorough her collection of wine.  Living in the DC metro area, it will an easy hop for Megan to join us in Virgiina.

I can’t wait!

Please give her a shout at @sonadora and check out her blog!  Some of my favorite wine reviews are there!