Wine Bloggers Conference: A Recap of #WBC12

L-R: a new love affair with Greece, my participant badge, Randall Grahm

#WBC12 = 370 bloggers, 4 days, 1 city: for the love of Oregon wine

In the subjective world of wine, blogging is a popular way to distribute information about what we’ve tasted. With the plethora of user-friendly blogging platforms, the number of wine blogs has increased exponentially.

Recently, wine bloggers from across North America converged in Portland, Oregon from August 16-19 to taste, tweet, blog, vlog, and post their way through hundreds of wines. It was the 4th annual Wine Bloggers Conference (#WBC12), an event that has seen substantial success. Past areas such as Napa Valley and Walla Walla estimate their community benefited from tourism dollars and advertising valued at more than $2 million.

What sets this conference apart is its purpose and approach: it’s less expensive for “citizen” bloggers to attend than it is for industry or media. With fees ranging from $95 (blogger) to $395 (non-blogger), it’s great value for the quality of speakers and events. The group has well-organized sponsorship, which helps offset costs and remove financial barriers for attendance.

Bloggers, naturally, love to record, so you can only imagine the logs of notes I’ve collected over four days. I’ve had time to reflect, reduce and remix in my following recap of #WBC12.

riesling love abounds

In a land famous for its Pinot Noir, I fell head-over-heels for a few of its Rieslings.

  • Anne & Amie Vineyards. 29 year old vines. This is a study in clean minerality and deep complexity. Brilliant. Age-worthy.
  • Amity Vineyards. More 1970s vines here. The 2008 is low alcohol with good acidity and a promise to develop over time. At $15-$20USD a bottle, it over-delivers in abundance. One to find – and even pay duty on, crossing the border.
  • Chehalem Winery. Consistent quality across the entire portfolio, but the 2010 Reserve Dry Riesling (with a touch of botrytis) stole my heart. Low alcohol and strong acidity play against fresh fruit cocktail.


take a detour

While awaiting the return of afternoon winery tour folks, my friend Allison and I encountered a lost soul. Good Canadians that we are, we helped in his search for room 204.

“Do you know the movie Sideways?”

My friend and I exchanged a look, and the man extended his hand.

“I wrote it. Hi, I’m Rex Pickett. Let’s go find that Randall Grahm tasting.”

That provided every reason to stop pining for the bus tours.

After sampling a half-dozen Bonny Doon Vineyard wines (including Le Cigare Volant {red}, Le Cigar Blanc {white}, a syrah, and a tasty sparkling riesling), the packed suite absolutely hummed. With a thank you to our host Randall and the dynamic Lily Elaine, we took our leave – with one last look at that table crowded with delicious bottles.


…and find the beer

When in Portland, one must visit at least one local pub. Wes of Dobbes Family Estate offered to show me one such pub: Horse Brass. Let the staff there guide you – I did, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. (thanks, Joel!)

  • RPM IPA – Boneyard Brewing (Bend, OR) “This beer should break the hop tachometer!” With that descriptor, I knew it was a good decision. Hello, citrus explosion! I didn’t know so hoppy could be so smooth.
  • IPA – Stone Brewing (San Diego, CA): hop meets malt meets honey, with crispy hop-ness on the finish. Lingers like the long shadows at the end of a summer day.


eternally modern greece

The New Wines of Greece seminar made a big impression. New flavours, new words, new things to like.

  • 2011 Spiropoulos Mantinia (grape: Moschofilero, region: Mantinia)
  • 2011 Gaia Thalassitis (grape: Assyrtiko, region: Santorini)
  • 2011 Oenoforos Asprolithi (grape: Roditis, region: Peloponnese)
  • C. Lazaridi Oen Land Cabernet / Agiorgitiko (grape: Cabernet & Agiorgitiko, region: Drama)


fresh, local, organic

Oregon’s lauded King Estate Winery sponsored dinner on the last night. With 1033 certified organic acres (including 30 acres of fruit, vegetables, and flowers), their use of sustainable farming methods was impressive in every way.

  • 2010 Signature Pinot Noir – clean mineral, expressive fruit, elegant balance
  • 2009 NxNW Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – complex, silky, with a finish a mile long

Hungry? Thirsty? Check out the video King Estate produced as our ‘appetizer’.


THE rhone ranger

Being present for Randall Grahm’s keynote address is one of the highlights of my professional life – so it goes without saying that it’s one of the stellar moments in these packed four days.

“It behooves us to show up to the wine. If wine is indeed magical, let it work its magic on us.”

If you’ve ever fallen in love with a seductive syrah, a velvety viognier, or a gorgeous grenache from North America – you have Randall to thank. He brought Rhone varieties to the US.



The last day of the conference is an exciting one, sleep-deprivation aside: it’s when the organizers officially announce next year’s location.

And the Wine Bloggers Conference 2013 will be held in… (dramatic drumroll, please): Penticton, British Columbia!

For the first time, the conference heads to Canadian soil. Mark your calendars for June 6-8, and register early. There are at least 30 people registered as I type this, and it sells out every year.

Tourism Penticton is already busy planning and preparing for hundreds of participants and delegates from around the world to descend on the Okanagan with fresh eyes and a fresh palate. The reach of the ocean of wine bloggers is immense, and next year it’s BC’s turn to charm the virtual wine world. I’m crossing my fingers that Randall Grahm will head north to be charmed too!

Written By:

Jeannette is EAT's Okanagan writer.\r\n\r\nWith her rural Canadian roots and love of grand experiences, Jeannette is equal \r\n\r\nmeasures country and city. Since moving from Vancouver to the Okanagan in 2007, \r\n\r\nshe quit ...

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