It's been several weeks since we were in Portland for the 2013 Wine Tourism Conference, giving us some time to reflect on how this compared to the Wine Bloggers Conference I attended during this past summer. This conference is geared towards the hospitality and tourism industry, but it's wine, so why not? :)
Travelling to Portland was appealing in a lot of ways, not least that we could visit an Oregon and a Washington winery, numbers 4 and 5 on our 50 states project to visit a winery in each state. Since I had made a lot of connections at WBC, it was interesting to see whether the same would hold true at WTC.
Turns out the conferences are quite different from each other, both in feel and in format. The Wine Tourism Conference felt a lot more static than the WBC, with a lot of listening rather than interaction (though the interaction was good when it happened). There seemed to be a lot more reliance on Powerpoint presentations at WTC, which made some of the time pass more slowly than others. A big part of this was that the material was geared towards the industry's business of attracting customers to wine areas, versus the idea of drinking and writing about wine.
Being in Portland had its benefits and its drawbacks. We had some outstanding meals at Genoa and The Bent Brick, which showcased the two ends of higher end dining in Portland - one a cerebral approach, the other lighter and more youthful feeling. The wines from the area were outstanding to a fault, with Portland urban wineries showing well when compared to their agricultural cousins. This was also one of the negatives of being on Portland - wine country is not that close; one would have to dedicate half a day or more to drive down, tour and taste, and then get back to the hotel. Not really feasible if one wanted to fully participate in the conference.
Post-conference, things got a little bit better - the dinner out at Willamette Valley Vineyards was truly outstanding, showing Oregon has the money and product to stand up to anywhere else in the world. The Great American Wine Conference was one of the most pleasant wine tastings I've ever been to, and it was great to taste wines from all over the United States in one place.
Overall, I'd say it was a well-run conference, with lots of great information, but it didn't really fit what we were looking for. Not sure we'd sign up for another Wine Tourism Conference when the Blogger Conference suits us better.
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