Last week Gabe and I made our much anticipated journey to Corning, NY for the Wine Bloggers Conference. Yes, it is a thing. A whole conference is devoted to such. And people, it is done well. Seriously, it has taken me a week to process everything that happened, everything that I learned and everything that I want to share. It was a transformative experience, which I think is owed both to the stellar organization by Zephyr Adventures, the outfit who puts it on each year and also the local community who hosted us. In this case I am referring to The Finger Lakes area of upstate New York or FLX. They know how to welcome guests up there. And of course, the community of bloggers themselves...ahem, ourselves. Big smile. So proud to be amongst them.
It was kind of like being in the audience for The Oprah Show.
Perhaps it was because we did not know what to expect? Perhaps because it was focused on something for which I feel so passionately? Or the community of like-minded oenophiles? Or because we were greeted at the tiny adorable regional airport with a banner and wine-tasting? The latter was simply the first few moves in a series of swag and endless wine that made it feel like being on The Oprah Show. You get a wine! And you get a wine! And, you get the idea. Gifts galore. And wine flowing like we've never heard the word drought.
This is about reciprocity.
I am not so naive as to think that all the gratis was from the goodness of everyone's heart. Business is at the core of the wine industry, and as such the industry was well-represented at the conference. As was education. I value that many of the sessions were extremely informative. I learned a lot. Ranging from a panel on the wines of The Finger Lakes, to a presentation about the dry rieslings of Alsace, the presenters knew their stuff. And in turn I expanded my repertoire and even live Tweeted! I was so intimidated by the "live wine blogging" sessions, which is really live tweeting, not blogging. I had just started my Twitter for the blog (@WIneFaveSnack) 10 days prior to the conference, but I did it and actually LOVED it! Twas so much fun. So now, for my part of the bargain: tell you what I think.
It basically rocked my world.
If you can't tell, I don't have much negative to say. I attend a lot of Higher Ed conferences and this was such a welcome departure. It was also one of the first times I was not embarrassed to wear my conference badge. We were so welcome everywhere. It was not unusual for businesses to have signs in the windows welcoming us. And the connections with other bloggers was tantamount. I am already cultivating what I hope will be life-long friendships and at the very minimum a professional community. It is such a specific thing, to want to write about wine. And it is fraught with ideas of exclusion, elitism and wealth. While the latter is somewhat a reality, and I will say there was some of that at the conference, the overwhelming trend was not. To quote one of our new pals, Marcy, joking about Gabe's maybe new Twitter handle, "go towards the light". True in all aspects of life. Go towards the positive flowing energy of abundance. And it certainly exists within The Wine Bloggers Community and the Finger Lakes Region. Trust your wine bloggers people. We want you to join us in the wine....light. Right.
Can we discuss the wine?
Yes! There is so so much discuss, as I tasted so so much. Areas other than The Finger Lakes were represented. I plan to roll out a few more posts on the whole experience so I will hold back but here are a few stand-outs.
Ravines Wine Cellars. This winery was well represented throughout the weekend so we got to taste several of their wines. A boutique family owned winery on Seneca Lake, the owner and winemaker hails from Provence in the south of France. Mais, oui. Coming by it honestly, he grew up on a vineyard. Check out their story on the website and just know for reference: they've got it going on. Excellent wines from Ravines. I recommend the Riesling and the Cabernet Franc, as both do well in that region, but if you really want a show stopper, try the 2011 Meritage. This Bordeaux style blend is 72% Cabernet Sauvignon and 28% Merlot. Not a drop of Cab Franc in sight. Pretty interesting! Still young but already welcoming to the palate, this full-bodied red has a cherry/raspberry dance with sensations of Fall like bonfires of wood. Get some!
Idol Ridge Winery. Another family owned venture, but this one has some buttressing. The Martin Family are also the proprietors of Montezuma Winery, as well as, Alder Creek and Hidden Marsh distilleries. It is safe to say that they know their adult beverages. Idol Ridge is their foray into growing European vinifera grapes. And it is going well. Opened only in 2013, Idol Ridge boasts several whites, reds and dessert wines, including my pick, which happens to be a hybrid: The 2014 The Vidal Blanc Ice Wine. Full disclosure: I am not typically a dessert wine drinker. They are not my thing. But I got to try this one on the speed blogging round and was quite taken. So, vidal blanc, is actually a hybrid produced from the vitis vinifera variety of Ugni Blanc (also known as Trebbiano Toscano) and another hybrid variety called Rayon d'Or. Neat. It does well in cold climates, producing high sugar levels with significant acidity. Enter Ice Wine! It really works. There was a healthy debate in one of the sessions at the conference about hybrids and their questionable ability to produce good wine. I found this one to be spot on. It is viscous with notes of honey, as ice wine tends to be, but with butterscotch on the palate and bitter orange peel on the finish. I would so pair this with some sort blue veined cheese and caramelized stone fruit concoction. Or pour it over ice-cream.
This post is just the tip of the ice-wine. So much more to come from #WBC15 wine lovers!