Corporate Donor: Rodney Strong Wine Blogger Scholarship!

Rodney Strong Vineyards
The wine business has always been about relationships.  Over the last 8 years, as I have been to the Wine Bloggers Conference, Robert Larsen of Rodney Strong Vineyards has shown this in spades.  Once again, in 2015, Rodney Strong has stepped up to the plate and continued to support the Wine Bloggers Conference Scholarship Fund with the formation of the Rodney Strong Wine Blogger Scholarship.

Rodney Strong has always been intimately involved with bloggers, and the Bloggers Conference, reaching out and building relationships that have lasted.  Through unique experiences, tastings, and great group events, Robert and his team have built social awareness through friendship and fun.  That’s the way to do social kids!  Did I mention that they throw great events?  I highly recommend that you stop by the winery if you are in Healdsburg, and check out some of the great options – like the newly opened Terrace, food some great food & wine treats.

11401312_10204831286477434_5110769601301197844_nThis year, the Rodney Strong Wine Blogger Scholarship is specifically aimed at a blogger who exhibits quality, quantity, consistency, and a community spirit.  This year, that award goes to Matt McGinnis of What Are You Drinking.  We all agree, that Matt is a rock star and we can’t wait to have him join us at his first Wine Bloggers Conference!

Laura PerretThis year, Robert is joined by Social Media Manager Laura Perret, who will be attending her first WBC!  Make sure you stop by and say hi to them both.  We are excited to have your continued support and look forward to mingling with you in the Finger Lakes!


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


Scholarship Recipient: Matt McGinnis

Matt McGinnis wants to know What You Are Drinking!  Writing for the last 5 years, he continually strives to improve the quality of his blog and is excited to be joining us in the Finger Lakes for the Wine Blogger’s Conference.  His blog, What Are You Drinking, explores the everyday adventures of life, paired with delicious drinks.  Matt likes to dive in to the people along with the drinks, and spends a great deal of time interviewing brewers, distillers, and wine makers to share with his readers.

Matt is also a Certified Sommelier, and often judges beverage competitions.  Recognized as a Top 10 Food Blogger in 2013 and 2014 by the Austin Chronicle, we are lucky to have Matt join us in the Finger Lakes!  As a self-employed consultant (hrmm sounds familiar), he is excited to be selected as the Rodney Strong Vineyards Wine Blogger Scholarship winner of 2015, which will enabled him to join us for the Wine Bloggers Conference.

A prolific writer & contributor to several online publications, Matt gets around town and has really made a name for himself over the last 280 blog posts (5 years).  I look forward to reading more and meeting him in person in August!

Please stop by and say hi to Matt!

Blog:  What You Are Drinking!

Twitter:  MattMcGinnis

Facebook:  WhatRUDrinking


Coming up next:  Meet Rodney Strong Vineyards’ Robert Larsen and Laura Perret, the dynamic duo behind the Rodney Strong Wine Blogger Scholarship!




Gratitude, Growth, and Cheers!

This post is brought to you by Jennifer Dahlin, author of Virtual Wine Bar.  Jennifer was one of our wonderful scholarship recipiants, and we’re so happy she joined us in Portland!

So here I am, standing in my hotel room.  Bags packed and I’m putting my name badge on for the last time. I look around the room and take a deep breath.  I realize it’s all over.

In the weeks before my trip, as I prepared to embark on this adventure to the Wine Blogger Conference in Portland, OR I was filled with nerves.  This would be my first official industry event in a room filled with Sommieres, Winemakers, Winery Owners, Distributors and Power Bloggers.  There was a moment in the week before the trip when my worries of failure got the best of me. I actually told my husband I didn’t want to go.  I worried that I would be way out of my league.  I worried that I didn’t have enough education or know all the right people.  After all, I’d only been a “Blogger” since May and who do I think I am to be rubbing elbows with these industry professionals? He just hugged me and encouraged me to go anyway.  He said that if the Wine Blogger Scholarship Committee thought enough of my blog to award me the scholarship then that was all the encouragement I would need.  He was right.  Because of that scholarship I was able to just go and hope for the best.  Reflecting back, this moment of self doubt has shown me that I am only as good as I believe I can be. It was time to believe in myself…time to embrace my passion and pursue a dream.
The conference itself was even more than I dream it would be!  At every turn there were wine tastings, educational seminars and new experiences being presented to me.  The four breakout sessions I went to were, Wine Blogger Workshop, Future Trends in the Wine Industry, Social Media and Monetization.  In each breakout session I had an “Aha!” moment.  We also went on a Winery tour of the Gorge and were literally “Wined and Dined” by the most amazing people who represented 5 wineries.  They werePhelps Creek VineyardsViento WinesThe Pines VineyardCathedral Ridge Winery, and Naked Winery.  Each of these wineries were unbelievably gracious and their wines were absolutely delicious.  The makings of a perfect evening!
Another highlight was tasting wine that is way out of my daily (or even special occasion) price point.  It was one of those opportunities that I wouldn’t have been able to experience without attending this conference. Two notable wines were the Opus One 2002 Vintage, and the Beaulieu Vineyard 2002 Private Reserve Georges de Latour Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley at the Napa Valley Vintners reception.  What an amazing experience!  To read more about the specific wines I loved throughout the entire conference check out the August 2012 Wine List.
As an industry rookie, I approached this conference experience as a student and was so grateful to anyone who would teach.  Throughout my career, I have been to many conferences in the Recreation Management industry and this one rivaled any of those.  The enthusiasm and passion at this conference was apparent at every turn.  We blog because we want to, not because we have to, and it showed in every aspect of the conference.
So, as my hotel door closes behind me and I’m walking down the hall approaching the elevator I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude.  My heart is in my throat as I reflect on all that I have to be grateful for.  Here is a little window into my thoughts as I walk…
I am thankful that I started my blog in May, I am thankful that I stumbled across the conference, I am thankful that I found the Wine Blogger Conference Scholarship, I am thankful that I mustered up the guts to apply, I’m thankful that the committee chose me as a scholarship recipient, I’m thankful for my family’s eternal support and encouragement, I’m thankful for the many friends I found while attending the conference and lastly I’m thankful for my bravery because I went even though I was scared to death of looking foolish.  I felt really proud of myself for trying something new and doing the best I can even though I knew I wouldn’t be the smartest, best or most experienced blogger in the room.  Sometimes the experiences that take us the farthest out of our comfort zone end up being the ones that become the most triumphant.  I say to you as I said to myself on the plane the whole way to Portland, “You can do this, just try your best and it will all be OK!”  It ended up way better than OK!
Randal Graham said it beautifully during his keynote speech, “I blog, therefore I am.”  Yes this is me ~ Cheers!

Time, time, time, see what’s become of me
While I looked around
For my possibilities

Indeed, the summer has flown by and here we are in the holiday season. Which means, of course, it’s time to gear up for WBC12! Next year, the Wine Bloggers Conference will enter it’s fifth year. Five years? WOW! My first year, I had just started my blog, we were all fresh faced neophytes trying to find the best of Sonoma County and how to develop this little gathering of wineaux. Here we are, 5 years later, looking at 300+ attendees, and some pretty amazing content.

Here we are, with only 239 days until we converge in Portland for the next WBC.  That means I only have about 179 days to raise funds to send our next batch of bloggers to the conference!  By now, I hope you agree that the WBC is a great place for writers, industry reps, and wine lovers to meet and discuss their craft, as well as learn a bit about the local wine culture and each other.  Since not everyone is able to afford the time off of our lovely day jobs, or the expense in travelling to the conference, this fund was developed to help bloggers attend the conference.  As always we are seeking bloggers who have not been to the conference, are looking to join the wider blogging community, and those that express a unique interest and passion for their blogs.

The blogger applications will be open beginning January 15th, but I encourage everyone who has an extra $20 to donate today.  Have you been tot he conference?  Did you enjoy it/  Did you learn a lot/  Help us share this experience with someone else!  NO amount is too small, and through a partnership with Enobytes, we are able to offer you the tax advantage of donating to a 501c foundation.

SO ditch the Starbucks and help send a blogger to band camp!  Donate today!

Disneyland for Pinot Lovers!

Here it is!  The 2012 Wine Bloggers Conference will be held in Portland, OR – gateway to Hood River, mountains, sports, the coast and…pinot country!

Luckily for us, the urban center of Portland (PDX) is very accessible to several wine regions within driving distance to our host hotel, the Portland Doubletree:

  1. Willamette Valley (pronounced Willamette Dammit!) – known for it’s pinot noir and other amazing offerings
        • Yamhill Carlon
        • McMinville
        • Dundee Hills
        • and more
  2. Columbia Gorge – a lesser known but equally stunning, both visually and oenographically region.
So why is this important?  Well because we get the bets of both worlds!  Both urban life and wine country.
Do you want to help support wine bloggers in getting to Portland next year?  Here’s why you should consider donating to the WBC Scholarship Fund:
The Wine Bloggers Conference Scholarship was founded in 2009 to provide well established “citizen bloggers” with a stipend so they can attend the 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.

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 August 17-19, 2012 hundreds of wine bloggers, new media leaders, and wine industry members will gather in Portland, Oregon for the fifth annual North American Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC) the premier conference for new media and the wine industry. This three-day symposium 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 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 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), 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 or visit

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:


Blogger Profile: Charlotte Chipperfield is “The-Key”

Blogging at The-Wine-Key, Charlotte Chipperfield brings everything wine, tasting notes, restaurant reviews, her favorite quotes and her industry commentary to her readers with wit and humor.

Her passion for food and wine was born after her experiences with wine on two continents and she’s now immersed in everything wine — evidenced by the fact that she’s currently studying for and seeking her Sommelier certification.

We’re looking forward to seeing Charlotte for her first WBC in just a few days, but in the mean time, please say hello to her on Twitter at @simplygrapes







Blogger Profile: Kay Zink writes about wine, A to Zinfandel

Kay Zink has always had a love of all things international, including international wines.  Earning a dual Bachelors Degree inn Business and French, Kay’s passion for the world didn’t stop there.  She plowed through her Master’s in International Marketing and further studies in French.  Phew!  Not to be marked an underachiever, she left Texas for Wall Street in the 80s.  Jump forward a few years, and Kay was driving around LA.  A career change landed her in IT (yay! Us wine bloggers have a bit of an IT posse going here), she left the tech world in 2007 to focus on wine.

After this wild ride in the professional world, Kay pursued a formal study of wine.  She currently holds a Wine Fundamentals 1 Diploma from the International Sommelier Guild and is now working towards her CSW (Certified Specialist of Wine) certification.  In her spare time, she is a member of hte Wine Century Club, where you taste 100 varietals of wine to earn a certificate of achievement.

New to the blogging world, Kay has been a wine consultant and has a large following on Facebook.  She also runs a boutique social media and online marketing firm that specializes in wine and food.  She is looking forward to honing her blogging skills and learning how to document her ourney of education and self renewal as well as meeting some of the finest and most influential bloggers at the WBC.

Welcome Kay!  I look forward to meeting you and sharing our wealth of knowledge!

Please check out Kay’s blog and her Facebook. She can also be found on Twitter!


Blogger Profile: Katheen Rake loves to meander Between the Vines!

Kathleen Rake can usually be found toiling away between the Vines in British Columbia, where she has had the good fortune to merge her passion of writing with her passion for wine.  Kathleen founded Click Media Works, where she toils away the days bringing her expertise to your project.

She also writes her wine blog, Between the Vines, which utilizes her WSET Advanced Certificate in Wines & Spirits (Level 3) as she works towords her diploma.  Through her blog, kathleen loves to share her excitement of wine and new discoveries, so that her readers can also get excited.

While having a bit of a British Columbia wine bias, she is excited to be joining us in Virginia next week to discover new wines from different reasons, that she would not otherwise be able to experience, living in Canada.

As a participant in the past two Wine Bloggers Conferences, Kathleen enjoyed sharing her experiences with my readers, friends and followers, and was happy to help support others so they could participate.  This year, we are proud to return the favor, and welcome kathleen to Charlottesville.

Pease stop by and give her a twitter shout out at @kathleenrake!



Blogger Profile: Douglas Trapasso drinks Chicago Pinot

Douglass Trapasso lives and works in Chicago, where he works for the public school system and also on his WSET certification.  As Chicago Pinot, Douglas was thrilled with Charlottesville was chosen to host the Wine Bloggers Conference, as his sister always brings back treats from the area over the holidays.

He has tasted many wines from Virginia, and enjoys experimenting with different areas and tasting wines from all over the country as well as the world.  Since many wines are difficult to find locally, Douglas is easter to share his notes on Virginia wine with his local wine community in Chicago, including his network of distributors and sommeliers.

We look forward to reading more from Chicago Pinot and welcome him to Virgina in a few days!

Please say hi to him on TWITTER and check out the blog!



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