Are you headed to the 3rd North American Wine Bloggers’ Conference in Walla Walla this weekend? You are in for a treat, but do you have any idea what you are REALLY getting yourself into? Fantastic Washington wines and interacting with friendly, creative, professional and occasionally kooky Washington wine makers are a given. Walla Walla Washington is eagerly awaiting your arrival and will be throwing quite the party for wine bloggers.
Last year, Thea (@winebratsf) of Luscious Lushes wrote a great post titled WBC 101. That post was a great guide for me as newbie to Wine Bloggers’ Conference last year. Thea has her own inimitable style so I won’t even try it here, but here are some tips from my own perspective and experience.
- Pace yourself - It is a long weekend with activities from early morning until late at night and that is just the official activities! Take a quick break when you can for a quick walk, a glass of water or a quick moment for yourself. If you start out staying up really late at pre-event parties on Thursday you might just burnt out before Sunday.
- Its hip to spit – You will have the opportunity to taste HUNDREDS of Washington wines this weekend but you won’t be able to really taste more than a dozen or so if you don’t practice your Swirl, Sip and Spit technique. You might be squeamish about spitting at the dinner table but trust me you really will want to spit during the Live tastings. Now if someone would just design a fabulous spit bib I would be all set!
- Bring wine to share – Don’t worry there will be lots of wine to taste as part of the conference but what is more fun than sharing the wines you love with other passionate wine geeks? You get to taste some tasty wines and share your own passions. The first Texan wines I ever tried were courtesy of Texan wine bloggers at #WBC09
- Drink water – Although some venues will have water available, I strongly recommend that you pack your favorite water bottle to keep with you. Drink often and well to stay hydrated.
- Charge your electronics – Packing your camera and phone charger is a no-brainer but bring extra batteries, fully charged. Think about a battery accessory pack. I can’t tell you how many bloggers were lamenting last year when their camera, phones and laptops ran out of charge. Nor about the crazy rush on winery tours as bloggers race toward the electric outlets to charge their equipment. So you want to spend your time at the winery tasting and learning about the wines or do you want to spend it looking for an outlet?
- The wonders of a broadband card – The Marcus Whitman Hotel will have wi-fi but when you have 300+ people trying to get online at once, sometimes it can be a rocky road. Not to mention that you may want to be blogging on the road. Last year I watched in envy at other smart bloggers working away with their broadband cards while the rest of us were scribbling in notepads, this year I will make sure I can get online when I want.
- Layers – The grapes like warm days and cool nights. It is a very cool summer in Walla Walla this year with days in the high 70s – low 80s and the temperatures will dip into the low 50s at night. Bring layers of wine country casual clothing for maximum enjoyment. You will be on your feet a LOT. Bring comfortable shoes for the grand tastings and comfortable and sturdy shoes for the vineyard walks.
- Virtual becomes reality - Blogging conferences are where those virtual relationships can become real. Last year, I assumed I would be able to easily find my virtual friends at the conference but that wasn’t so easy in a crowd of this size. Three days later I still hadn’t connected with about half of those that I wanted to. Bring something distinctive to make it easier to find you, be it a hat, T-shirt with your blog name or … (look for the big black service dog to find me). Try to contact people before hand to meet up at the registration booth before the taco truck or just let fate and destiny come into play.
- Try something new - Washington may be well known for our Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Riesling but the micro-climes in Washington allow us to grow lesser known varietals. Don’t pass up on the opportunity to try a Washington Tempranillo, Siegerrebe, Nebbiolo, Barolo, Müller Thurgau, Lemberger, Picpoul, or Malbec.
- Check out resources before you go- You will get a great swag bag full of information which you will have almost no time to read when you are at the conference. Look things up and print them out before you head out to Walla Walla that you can read while hanging out at the airport or while you leave the driving to someone else.
- Grab a copy of our Washington Winery Twitter list
- Check out the Washington Wine Commission web site for information and maps on Washington wineries and maps.
- Paul Gregutt,wine writer for the Seattle Times and Wine Enthusiast has some ideas of what you might want to see and experience while in Walla Walla. The conference will keep you really busy but now you have even more reasons to return to Walla Walla Washington county!
- Catie AKA Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman offers an Insiders Guide to Walla Walla video. Yeah I know you can’t print a video, but find the 10 minutes to watch this video before you head out.
With 300 wine bloggers attending this year, there will be lots of new faces at the conference this year. I hope that the bloggers new to this experience will benefit and the grizzled wine blogger conference veterans will chime in with their own tips.