Many of you have asked me about what a Wine Bloggers Conference experience is really like. With about two weeks left leading up to Wine Bloggers Conference 14 #wbc14 in Santa Barbara, I thought I’d go “old school” and recap advice that I gave after attending my first conference several years ago.
Here’s the link and below is the updated recap. As my blog has grown in readership, my invitations to private events have increased exponentially. In essence, remember that if you are with a group of 300 citizen bloggers, everything you can say and do may show up online (exhibit A is below). Someone posted this week that what happens in Santa Barbara stays in Santa Barbara … said no blogger ever. So true!
1. You may have the opportunity to let another blogger who cannot attend live the experience through your eyes. Otherwise known as the what you say can and will be used against you adage Vintage Texas.
2. Under any circumstances possible, schedule your birthday to coincide with #wbc11. Trust me on this. My birthday falls a few weeks prior to the event, but Thea and I make it a habit to celebrate in style.
3. Get to know your local distributors, wine representatives and others in the industry.
4. Share a room. Having been married for over 20 years, I was planning to have my own room until a mutual friend asked if I’d mind sharing with another female blogger who needed accommodations. I ended up with the most fun roommate in Liza and she became my running buddy at all events and has continued to be a fabulous roomie over the years.
5. Attend the unconference events. In the midst of one of our sessions, a note was sent out on Twitter that an unofficial wine tasting was in process on the back patio. As I slipped out in between the sessions, I found the bottle of Turley that I brought from home paled in comparison with the vintage Bordeaux wines, high end champagne and other cellar selections from other bloggers.
6. Bring your list of Twitter handles included in the #wbc handbook. It was so much fun to put faces and names with personalities that I’ve come to know and love over the past year and a half.
7. Spit. Thankfully this is a lesson that I didn’t need to learn. If you were to ingest all the wine that is offered to you, especially during speed tasting, you would end up curled up in a ball in a corner somewhere. You already need a bionic liver to hold your own here anyway.
8. Open your mind and try to put aside preconceived notions. Over the years I went from being not a big rose fan to learning to appreciate it….
9. Partner with the local experts. There are a ton of events that never make the formal agenda – after parties, educational events, tastings, etc. Do keep in mind though that these invitations take time.
10. Exercise daily. Just trust me on this. It clears your head, jump starts your metabolism (you desperately need this based on the 6,000 calories that you consume daily with food and wine) and there is not a better way to see your surroundings. The reactions of your fellow bloggers as they pass you in the exercise room on the way to the conference are priceless.
11. My bonus tip is to buy flair. The ribbons are sassy, fun and help define your personality. Know that your money will go to the scholarship fund to send a deserving blogger to the next blogger’s conference.
In terms of what the actual conference is like, it is like speed dating a wine region with the red carpet rolled out. Imagine wine bottles everywhere, after parties beginning at 10pm and going until the wee hours, swag bags, wine makers, workshops, food trucks, bus tours and conferences that begin at noon. Sessions where 10 winemakers have five minutes to pour the wine, tell you his or her story, and answer your questions for a total of 50 minutes. And wine – lots of wine. For this year’s pre-conference excursion, we actually stay one night at the Day’s Inn where Miles stayed in the movie Sideways. Apparently it hasn’t changed a bit. And the after parties are just over the top – Jordan and Rodney Strong always do great events. This year, I’m excited to be a part of the committee that chose the great scholarship recipients. I can’t wait to meet them.