This weekend we made the trip back East for the 4th Annual Wine Bloggers Conference and Awards, in Charlottesville, VA. The quaint country town and home to Thomas Jefferson housed over 350 wine bloggers, brands and enthusiasts — and maybe a few bottles of wine.
We met new people, made new friends, reconnected with old friends, and sampled all the wine that Virginia had to offer. Crushd soft launched on Friday, offering a new mobile, social network that provides wine drinkers new ways to connect and share recommendations.
In Charlottesville, nearly everything is seen through the lens of Thomas Jefferson’s genius, be it in Architecture, as evidence by our Friday evening Virginia Wine reception at Monticello, or through his writings, the agenda brought together luminaries who are just as bright in their own way.
Friday afternoon’s keynote was delivered by Jancis Robinson and followed up on Saturday by Eric Asimov, New York Times wine writer. While both talked about the nature of blogging from their own perspective – coming from print and the written word – both talked about the importance of establishing an individual voice, being passionate about their subject and using curiosity to inform each attendees own writing. In some ways, both Jancis and Eric came across as good natured, friendly professors talking to their charges and helping to stoke enthusiasm while offering some hard learned advice.
That evening we were treated to trip to Monticello. And despite the nearly 100 degree temperatures, the Virginia Wine industry turned out in full force, pouring samples of Cab Franc, Viognier and Petite Verdot, the three most abundant grapes grown in this particular corner of the East coast. While Thomas Jefferson was most certainly a genius, many of the bloggers on hand bemoaned the fact he did not invent air condition. Oddly, that hasn’t stopped Monticello from being cooled, as climate control made its way into the third president’s home in the 1950s.
Back at the hotel the majority of the bloggers partook in two separate editions of speed blogging wines. Each wine was given 5 minutes and the writers sipped their way through wines, blogging thoughts, tweeting notes and sharing photos before the next wine made it way to the table. It was chaotic, loud, rushed and an incredible amount of fun.
Even though the participants all enjoyed their time, the wine was always regarded as a serious business. Over three days in Charlottesville, hundreds of disparate voices came together over a shared enthusiasm for the grape, to enjoy it with each other, share thoughts on social media and have good natured debates about favorite styles or expressions.
While some passions occasionally flared, they were quickly resolved with another small pour and a mutual respect amongst oenophiles. We departed for California with a new found respect for all of our peers and friends in the industry. We’re looking forward to seeing you next year in the Willamette Valley. In the mean time, check out our Twitter feed to see the conversations we had as they happened.