Ads for the Northwest Wine Academy keep appearing as though someone is sending me a personal message. I call the number listed and speak with the head of the program, Regina Daigneault, and inquire, “I hear you offer food and wine pairing classes?” The response is a robust, “Yes, they’re taught by Chef Lenny and he prepares all the food to complement the wine served in class!” Chef Lenny? Could that possibly be the same Chef Lenny of Sapphire restaurant up the street from my former apartment where I frequently dined? Before I have the chance to ask, Regina says, “Why don’t you come and sit in on a class to see what you think?” So, I find myself in a classroom tentatively waiting to see whether it is indeed the same Chef Lenny. It is. The next thing I know I’m saying, “Sign me up.”

During that first quarter of Food and Wine Pairing class, I receive an invitation to a wine “tweet up.” At the time I think, “Oh crap, Twitter is everything that’s wrong with the world today.” Then after consideration, I realize it is a chance to get together with a group of wine loving people and justify eating and drinking all night. That invite came from none other than Bean Fairbanks, the founder of this blog, Wine and Beer of Washington State. Next thing I know, I’m on Twitter (for real, tweet to me @NancyFeasts)! Not to mention, I end up being a contributor to the blog.

Fast forward one year later to 2010 and Bean, Ed, Vivian, and I are all going to WBC10. That’s right, the Wine Bloggers Conference of 2010 in Walla Walla, Washington. I had found my new venture in life – wine. I figure there can’t be a better way to explore it than through total immersion.

Wade and Becky of Thurston Wolfe Winery

Wade and Becky of Thurston Wolfe Winery

I have such fond memories of that Wine Bloggers Conference. Becky Yeaman personally told us the story of how she met her husband, Dr. Wade Wolfe of Thurston Wolfe Winery, after being introduced by a friend who described Wade as a “really hot wine guy”.

Don Carlo Vineyard

Don Carlo Vineyard

There were homemade potato chips from THE Tim of Tim’s Cascade Potato Chips paired with wine from his Don Carlo Vineyard. I got to meet one of my all-time favorite wine idols, Andrea Robinson. We heard Lettie Teague’s opening keynote speech. I mean, really, how many of us have even gotten to see her in person?! Jeffrey Saad, who at the time was a recent runner up on The Next Food Network Star, used the best line I’ve ever heard about food and wine pairing: “Sweet food spanks the fruit right out of the wine.” It’s amazing how many grownups giggle when you say the word, “spank.”

Dinner on the terrace at Terra Blanca Vintners

Dinner on the terrace at Terra Blanca Vintners

As if all that wasn’t enough, the post-conference excursion to Red Mountain was a wine lover’s dream and wrapped up the trip with an incredible dinner party on the beautiful terrace of Terra Blanca Vintners.

Also of note, during our bus excursion at the conference I saw a young winemaker speak at Waterbrook winery. Although I wasn’t on what most people called the jackpot bus, I do treasure that moment. Today I work with that winemaker. His name is Peter Devison and he was just named a Winemaker to Watch.

So, why not register for #WBC17? You never know what may happen or where it will take you.