At last year’s first-ever wine blogger conference, the Napa Valley wineries were noticeably absent from all activities. At this year’s conference it was another story. The entire day on Saturday, 12 hours’ worth, was all Napa Valley. The Napa Valley Vintners wined and dined the conference attendees showing off what the Napa Valley is all about – wine, food, and beauty. I’m guessing the Napa Valley Vintners think that those who blog and use Twitter and Facebook are very important and influential, because they really did roll out the red carpet to impress all of us.
It began at 9 am with the bloggers boarding buses at the Flamingo Hotel in Santa Rosa and traveling over the Mayacamus mountains to the Culinary Institute of America. The CIA hosted the morning conference sessions in their beautiful historic Greystone building and provided a light breakfast of fruit, assorted pastries, coffee and juices. We listened to Barry Schuler and Jim Gordon speak on the future of wine blogging and other types of social media. Social media has arrived and wineries need to take note.
At noon we boarded one of eight buses, each off to a different winery for lunch and then a look at how that winery is working with the Napa Green program. Our bus arrived at Stag’s Leap Cellars, taking a side entrance and then along a dirt road leading us behind the winery and to the vineyards. We ate a wonderful lunch overlooking their beautiful reservoir pond. The lunch was delicious and paired with the Stag’s Leap Cellars ’07 Karia Chardonnay and the ’06 Artemis, a very food-friendly Cabernet Sauvignon. Following lunch, Kirk Grace, the vineyard manager, took us on a vineyard walk explaining his sustainable farming practices.
Next, on to one Napa’s newest wineries, Palmaz Winery, for another seminar and then to
Quintessa Winery where we joined the other 200 plus wine bloggers for a grand tasting by 60 Napa Valley wineries.
The day’s event culminated with a dinner event at eight different wineries. For lucky us, our bus took us to Ã‰toile restaurant at Domaine Chandon. The first thing we spotted was our table set up with a myriad of wine classes, nine glasses per person. The menu included sweet white corn soup paired with two Chardonnays, roasted beef tenderloin paired with 5 wines, and a Vairhona chocolate pate paired with Domaine Chandon Pinot Meunier.
Some wine bloggers felt that too much was packed into one day and thought a slower pace would have been better. For Janelle and Joe everything was just perfect and our tours of the wineries, and our lunch and dinner, were memorable. We have always loved the Napa Valley, since our first visit way back in 1967, so no need to impress us. As print media begins to fade, bloggers will have more influence so it is a smart idea to wine and dine this group of influential wine writers.