Last Friday I attended the Wine Bloggers Conference 2011. This was one of those events that really brought out why the wine industry is so amazing! So many people in one room that were all excited to learn about and discuss topics pertaining to wine. Unfortunately I was only able to attend the Friday sessions but they were really amazing. I always enjoy hearing Jancis Robinson speak as she’s played such a HUGE role in my own wine education through her books and website. Her call for bloggers to see themselves as wine writers was thought provoking and reaffirmed my commitment to be a winemaker who blogs, not solely a blogger!
The marketing to Millennials session was fun and informal with lots of good information. As a Millennial myself, I wholeheartedly agreed with some of the generalizations but others I think can be applied to any generation. I do agree that Millennials are more likely to use the internet and social media to find out what their friends are drinking and what might be new and interesting. However, I don’t agree that only Millennials have a highly tuned BS radar. I think that as a society we have become so over run with advertisements on TV, radio, in print, and now on the web that we have become desensitized to it. I largely ignore and actively avoid advertisements in most traditional media and the internet and from a producer standpoint I understand how frustrating it must be for marketers to know that. One point that was raised is that Millennials care about companies that care about them. This is another thought that can probably transcend generations. Most people care about other people or companies that care about them. That’s why the bar in “Cheers” was so popular. We all want to give our business to someone who “knows our names” or in other words…cares about us and our needs.
For the speed blogging session I had the unique opportunity to blog from the winery prospective rather than the blogger’s prospective. As the second breakout sessions were starting my husband, Brian, our Emma Pearl PR representative, Jenna, and I were checking bottles of wine for the tasting and making sure they were at the best possible temperature to be served. The 09 Emma Pearl is best served between 48-55 degrees F where the floral aromas can really explode. Served too cold and that element is severely diminished, too warm and well it’s just too warm on as hot and humid a day as last Friday was in Virginia. The speed tasting was exciting and a bit of an adrenaline rush as we had 5 minutes to explain the wine, who I was, and answer any questions that anyone may have had. I was a bit nervous at first because our table was completely empty up until the last few minutes before the tasting started. After that it was a bit like being on a horse jumping out of the starting gate. By the 4th or 5th table I was starting to forget what points I had covered with which table and probably ended up repeating my self more than one time but no one seemed to mind. The truly enjoying part of it for me was visiting 12 tables of between 3 and 8 bloggers, all of which seemed to genuinely like the wine. It was a truly gratifying day as a winemaker.
Finally the dinner at Monticello was amazing. Just being at the home of the Father of American viticulture was very inspiring and it was very educational to taste more of Virginia’s wines. This was one part of the trip that I was really looking forward to because, being from the East Coast, I really want to see the eastern wine regions come into their own. Overall, I think Virginia still has a long way to go. I tasted quite a few wines with elementary winemaking mistakes and others where I couldn’t tell if it was the winemaking to blame or the vineyard. There was one bright spot in the Virginia wine tasting for me and it was an Italian gentleman named Gabriele Rausse. We sampled two wines from him; Vin Gris de Pinot Noir and a Nebbiolo. The Vin Gris (Zesty and Fruity) was a very pale salmon leaning towards orange with delicate aromas of red plum, wet stone, grapefruit, and violets. It was balanced and crisp with a moderately complex finish. However it was the Nebbiolo (Spicy and Smoky) that really got me excited. This was the best new world Nebbiolo that I have tasted thus far and it was exciting that it was fromVirginia. It had pale color and the traditional flavors of licorice and rose petals that you would find in a Piedmont Nebbiolo however with lower acid and softer tannins with a finish with hints of dark roasted coffee. I asked about his cap management techniques (how he extracted the color and tannins) knowing that Nebbiolo can represent challenges in the winery to balance the tannin extraction with flavor and color. He responded that he punches down the skins and tastes every day. “It’s all tasting!” was his answer. The soft tannins and balanced body were quite nice and with a limited production of 136 cases I imagine that he has no trouble selling it each year.
On a West coast note I’ve been running around vineyards this week and Veraison has started on the Central Coast Pinot Noir. We’re about 4 weeks out down there and looking like a little more than 6 weeks on theNorthCoast. Harvest is well on its way!