Day two of the Wine Bloggers Conference started off a little earlier than the first day. I really could have used more sleep after the late night before. The first sessions were blogger to blogger discussions. There were three of them and we could only cover two so I went to the Wine Bloggers Workshop and Nancy went to the How Bloggers Influence the Wine World session.
In the Wine Bloggers Workshop we sat at a circular table with one or more highly experienced bloggers to learn some tips and have our blogs looked at. At my table was Debbie Gioquindo, the Hudson Valley Wine Goddess. She told us about how her blog is set up and also what types of post generate the most hits (video). James Melendez, James the Wine Guy also joined us and agreed that video is the way to go. James has over 800 videos on his site. All of us shared what we do and gave each other tips to improve our blogging. This was a really useful session for me.
Nancy went to the session about How Wine Bloggers Influence the Wine World and will describe that session.
It was an informally structured discussion. The moderator would introduce a topic, such as the influence wine bloggers have on the wine world, and the discussion would go from there. Opinions came from every direction. Some wondered if we write mainly for ourselves, that is are our fellow bloggers the main source of traffic to our sites? Others felt strongly that blogs are found by internet users via a search engine.
One blogger, who is also a retailer, notices a bump in visits and sales when he posts food and wine pairing.Recipes and wine have been a good combination for his site and his retail business. Others felt that local wine shop owners have a greater influence on wine buyers, they have an opportunity to talk directly to the consumer, find out about their taste preference and educate them about the wines in their shop. Most agreed the important thing for bloggers to do is provide information. Regional wines are a great place to start. To the degree we can, we need to travel to wineries, taste their wines and write about them. We need to sell the experience.
After these breakout sessions we both sat through The Winery View of Wine Bloggers. We had Christopher Watkins of Ridge Vineyards and their blog 4488, Sasha Kady Director of Marketing for King Estates Winery and Ed Thralls with the Wine Tonight blog and Social Director of Vintage Wine Estates discuss with everyone what wineries thought of wine bloggers and their blogs. To sum up the discussion; the wineries love us, want us to reach out to them and write about them and their wines. But have a plan, don’t just say “I want some samples”, tell the winery what you plan to do to help them and they will help you.
After this we had one more breakout session before lunch. I went to the Social Media session and Nancy went to The Art of Oregon Pinot – A Clonal Tasting. The Social Media session turned out to be more about commercial uses than how to do it, so I wasn’t real interested and I could see great tweets going by about the Clonal Tasting. I messaged Nancy and she said there were still some empty seats so I went down to join her. Since I missed the first part Nancy will describe the session.
Gary Horner, winemaker at Erath Winery in Dundee, Oregon started with a history of Pinot Noir production in the Willamette Valley and Erath Winery’s first vintage in 1972. He continued with a description of the Erath Pinot Noir and their many vineyards. Gary then began an explanation of the various soil types in the Willamette Valley, and Prince Hill vineyard in particular, with a discussion of basalt and Jory soil types. He showed several really interesting photos of the variation in the depth of the soil types, showing the red Jory soil of varying depth with the basalt soil underneath. There is a great deal of variation in the depth of the Jory soil within the vineyard. The basalt layer underneath is what gives Dundee Hills Pinot Noir their fruit driven flavors.
Next, Gary moved on to clones and just what they are. He explained how naturally prone Pinot Noir is to spontaneous mutations. He told us it is not uncommon to walk through a Pinot Noir vineyard and see marked variation in cluster size, color and berry size on individual vines. He continued with a discussion, too detailed for this post, about Pinot Noir clones in the Willamette Valley. So, on to the tasting.
Before us was a set of 4 glasses of Pinot Noir all from the Prince Hill vineyard. The 2009 Prince Hill 115 Clone Pinot Noir, 2009 Prince Hill 777 Clone Pinot Noir, 2009 Prince Hill Pommard Clone Pinot Noir and 2009 Prince Hill Pinot Noir. The final wine is a blend of the three clones. The blend varies each year. Tasting from the 115 to the Prince Hill was very interesting. The 117 and 777 provided lighter body, fruit flavors and lighter tannins. The Pommard provided a heavier mouth feel, more significant tannins and darker fruit and earthy flavors. The Prince Hill Pinot Noir (blended) showed the deeper notes of the Pommard as a back bone with the lighter berry notes of the 115 and 777 showing through. It was a real treat to be able to taste these clones together. It was my first exposure to a clonal tasting. Thank you Erath Winery!
After these session it was lunch and we went out on our own. Our next post will tell about what went on the rest of the day.