Another beautiful morning -- we really lucked out with perfect weather. ProfessorMerlot and I headed out for another early run, this time heading out of the downtown area to run on the Kettle Valley Rail Trail. Amazing views of the lake as we ran along the bluffs, through vineyards and then back to the hotel for breakfast.
7:30 – 9:15 AM Breakfast in the Park with Downtown Penticton Association
The Penticton Lakeside Resort sits at the end of Main Street (actually controversial when it was built as it blocked views of the lake. Gyro Park was where the Breakfast in the Park was set up, with plenty of food options, but only one picnic bench, go figure. Since much of the food was handheld and easily carried, the lack of seating wasn't a problem. Post-second night, a bigger problem was a dearth of coffee -- luckily, the coffee shop was just half a block a way, so they stayed busy shuttling fresh coffee almost as quickly as it was finished. Breakfast was a mix of sweet and savory, all delicious, with representatives from Brodo, Burger 55, and more on hand to share their creations.
I wandered down through the Farmers' Market, hoping to find a carving to take home as a souvenir, maybe a native-inspired mask or similar, but for naught. Plenty of great looking produce, but the arts tended more towards crafts than what I was looking for. Back at the breakfast, just before the morning sessions, one of the locals I had been talking to about my dilemma let me know about a booth that had just been set up, with Meti designs carved then cast in glazed stoneware tiles. Score!
9:30 – 12:00 PM Block Sessions
- Session 1: Wine Country Videography, Photography, and Podcasting Workshop
- Session 2: Learn to be a Wine Judge via an In-Depth Look at BC Wine
While the Wine Judge session certainly seemed appealing, one of my goals as a blogger is to add video to my repertoire (feel free to subscribe to my channels on YouTube or Vimeo). Monique Soltani, in the time she had, gave us some good pointers on creating video, though it was pretty general and not the in-depth tutorial I had hoped for. The time flew by and then it was time for lunch.
12:00 – 1:30 PM Lunch with Wines of Uruguay
Turns out the Uruguayans make really good wine, but then drink it all in their own country, though production is ramping up to make export a possibility. One wine made it seem like there was a palate split between the men and women at the table, but we all liked some of the others equally, so it must have been an outlier.
1:45 – 2:45 PM Breakout Sessions
- Session 1: Positioning Your Blog
- Session 2: Search Engine Optimization
- Session 3: Drink Them Before They’re Famous
Another one where I would have been happy to attend all three sessions, but the Positioning Your Blog seemed to offer the inspiration I was seeking, and I was not disappointed. From my Twitter notes, Thea Dwelle (Luscious Lushes), Kathleen Rake (Between the Vines), and Megan Kenney (Wannabe Wino) let us in on a few secrets: be credible, network, be consistent, access wine events, make a name for yourself, be in it for the long haul, educate yourself, search, connect, engage, build community, participate, be passionate, have fun!
3:00 – 4:00 PM Liquid Gold: Inniskillin Icewine Tasting
As a scholarship recipient, I had mixed feelings about missing a session, but I simply needed to take a break and lie down. Missing the Icewine session was tough, but I felt better when I heard only one wine was poured, so I didn't miss out on the comparative tasting I had expected.
4:00 – 5:00 PM British Columbia Live Wine Blogging – Red Wines
I woke up just in time for the speed tasting, stumbling downstairs and right to a table as they were starting to pour. As with many cold weather regions, I find the reds don't match up in quality to the whites, but the BC winemakers were game, pouring some decent wines, some actually really good. With the reds, it will take more searching for most people to find a favorite, and there are plenty of options to choose from.
5:15 – 6:45 PM Pre-Dinner Reception with New Wines of Greece
After meeting up with the Banfi Banter crew for a tasting in their suite (Hot Tub Time Machine anyone?), I headed down to the Wines of Greece Reception, excited to add to my Wine Century Club list, hoping to get to the magic number 100. I was not disappointed, adding numerous new varietals to my list. As it happened, Lisa from the Silkameen Wineries group brought me a bottle of Ehrenfelser to try (I had mentioned my quest in the WBC13 Facebook group) and it turned out to be the 100th varietal I needed! Serendipity. (I sent in my list of 100 varietals and am hoping to hear back soon that I have been added to this august organization.) The Reception started in one of the smaller rooms and then spilled out onto a beautiful patio area, allowing us to appreciate the beautiful weather.
6:45 – 7:15 PM Wine Blog Awards Presented by Mutineer Magazine
7:15 – 8:45 PM Banquet Dinner with Destination British Columbia
8:45 – 9:00 PM Announcement of 2014 Conference Date and Location
9:00 – 11:00 PM World of Wines Reception
By this time, after 2 days of wine, travel, and education, I was simply spent. Perhaps it was the novelty of the Conference, perhaps I tried to do too much in my guilt and eagerness as a Scholarship recipient, but I was simply spent. I had no desire to sit in a large conference room and eat lambsicles or anything similar. What I wanted was to drink beer, eat pizza, and watch the Chicago Blackhawks play Stanley Cup hockey. It didn't take much to persuade PofessorMerlot to join me. We headed down to the Barking Parrot Bar, where we ran into like-minded people and settled down into comfortable seats overlooking the sparkling lake. Good food, good conversation, good beer, and a Blackhawks win were a great finale to the Conference. It's a shame the organizers had not moved the Conference outdoors, perhaps renting out the hotel bar, but it didn't happen, so no use worrying about it. We followed along on Twitter as the awards and 2014 Conference location were announced, then bid adieu and headed back up to our room. I'm sure most of the others headed to After-Hours parties (I WAS very disappointed to miss the Jordan Vineyards and J Winery party), but with a 5:00 AM shuttle to the airport, beauty rest was paramount.
The Wine Bloggers Conference was everything I expected and more -- the venue was impressive, the area beautiful in a natural and agricultural way, and the food and wines were top-notch. I had a great time meeting people I had only interacted with online, and the educational content inspired me to do more, to strive for more meaningful content. Only time will tell whether I'm successful or not. I do know that I will make every effort to make it to WBC14, with scholarship or not -- hope to see you there!
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