If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you know that I just returned from the Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Rosa, CA. I attended my first International Food Blogger Conference in Sacramento a few weeks ago and this was also my first wine bloggers conference. It was a great conference and I hope to be able to attend next year. I can tell you now that it will be in Walla Walla, Washington, but we didn’t get to find out until the final minutes of the closing remarks.
I didn’t write a recap of the Food Blogger Conference, which I should have, so I didn’t want to miss sharing the Wine Bloggers Conference with you — I think possibly because of all the fabulous food I want to tell you about! I know, this was a wine bloggers conference but the food was amazing, too. I almost didn’t want to come home. Sorry, Amador County, you have awesome wine but you have a ways to go in the food department.
I really wasn’t going to talk about the recent fires in wine country but you almost can’t talk about the area right now and not. Yes, there was horrible devastation, but in the overall scheme of things, it was a small percentage of the area. Don’t let it keep you away. One of the best things you can do to help the area heal and recover is to visit. Your tourist dollars can do so much to help someone who may have lost their home but still has a business to operate to support their family.Northern California's wine country is open for business and welcoming guests! Click To Tweet
The 10th annual Wine Bloggers Conference was held at the Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country which is more downtown and was not in danger from the fire. When I made my reservation for the conference, the Hyatt was already booked so I made a reservation at the Wine Country Inn and Suites, just three miles north of the Hyatt off of Highway 101.
Just that three miles away, the Wine Country Inn and Suites was in the heart of the evacuation zone. Buildings all around it burned to the ground. I knew it didn’t burn down but didn’t know until about a week before the conference if it would be open in time for my trip. Roads were closed for a couple of weeks and even workers couldn’t get in to get the hotel ready to reopen.
The entire hotel was surrounded with chain link fence to keep people out of unsafe areas
Well, reopen it did and I had a lovely room with a balcony and view of the interior courtyard. I think all the rooms do, which is a good thing, because the outer view, in all directions, was of burned buildings. I didn’t hear how the hotel managed to survive but it definitely reminded me how fickle fire is and how it can jump from one place to another.
Education Session: Zinfandels Old and New
I was able to check into my hotel early, so I unpacked and rested for a few minutes before I headed to the Hyatt and my first session, Zinfandels Old and New, presented by ZAP. “Zinfandel Advocates & Producers (ZAP) is a membership based organization that advances knowledge and appreciation for American Zinfandel and its unique place in our culture and history.”
I’ve been working on a Zinfandel post, especially old vine, for a while so was excited to hear what the panelists ZAP had brought together had to say. The panelists were Jeff Meyers, winemaker and vice president of Terra d’Oro in Amador County; Jonathan Lachs, winemaker and owner of Cedarville Vineyard in El Dorado County; Kevin Riley, winemaker and owner at Proulx Wines in Paso Robles; and Jake Bilbro, winemaker and owner of Limerick Lane Wines in Northern Sonoma County. So much great information that will enhance my upcoming Zinfandel post – which is turning into a monster!
According to ZAP, Zinfandel has become known as America’s Heritage wine by being the most widely planted grape from the 1880’s onward to the modern-day, where it is still the third most planted grape in California.Zinfandel has become known as America’s Heritage wine. @TheZinfandelOrg Click To Tweet
The Zinfandel grape is “recognized as the most terroir-driven grape for its expression of the soils and the climate where it is grown.” Each of the winemakers brought one of their Zins so we could see this first-hand in a side-by-side tasting.
At the end of the session, we all got a grab bag with a “mystery” bottle of Zinfandel. Mine was the 2015 “1910 Block” from Limerick Lane Wines. I’m really looking forward to drinking this in the near future!
Opening Ceremonies and Expo
After the session, I had some time before the Opening Ceremonies and the start of the Expo so I found a spot to plug in and do some work on social media. I didn’t sign up early enough to get in on the dinner excursion so I opted to have some white bean and sausage soup in the hotel bar. It was so good and really hit the spot since I hadn’t eaten since late morning.
Once the Expo started, I checked out most of the tables and, of course, sampled a lot of wine. I met and visited with lots of other bloggers and wine peeps.
The Expo was just getting under way when I took this video
It was a long, busy day so I headed back to my hotel fairly early. I read over some literature and hit the hay, ready for what was to come the next day.
I know, I didn’t get to any of the food! You’ll just have to come back for Part 2. I promise, it’s over the top and it’ll make you drool.
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Until next time…