Wine

WBC14: My Thoughts on the Wine Bloggers Conference

It’s been a little over a week since I returned home from the Wine Bloggers Conference in Buellton (WBC14), and I’ve had enough time to form some opinions on the experience. Overwhelmingly, those opinions are good, and they come from the perspective of a first-time attendee who didn’t entirely know what to expect from the event.

Did not expect ultrasound oxidation!

Did not expect ultrasound oxidation!

Did expect plenty of this.

Did expect plenty of this.

I wouldn’t qualify my experience as negative in any way. My thinky thoughts are more about defining what sort of wine writer I am and considering whether that fits into the WBC’s intended audience or not.

1. Value

The conference was run by Zephyr Adventures, which as their website rightfully claims, “specialize[s] in providing our travelers with big experiences from a small company at a fair price.” That company description exactly sums up my overall opinion of the conference. If nothing else, WBC14 offered two and a half days’ worth of unending wine tastings, two meals a day–

Fare at the Wine Blogger Awards dinner.

Fare at the Wine Blogger Awards dinner.

–the chance to get to know other wine writers and a bevy of industry professionals, and an afternoon spent at the Sanford Winery nestled in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA all for $100 for citizen bloggers like myself.

Next, add in the amazing value of the multiple excursions the conference put together. I attended the Bridlewood excursion for only $15, and we enjoyed a large picnic lunch at the winery’s immensely scenic grounds—

WBC_14_160

–tastings of their wines with the meal, and a panel of local food producers that resulted in yes, more food and wine.

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WBC 14: Best Wines

This is the first of several posts covering my experience at the Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC14) held in Buellton, CA, last weekend. I’ll feature one per week, likely through August, and why not start with what’s most important to me? Naturally, that’s the wines themselves.

Wines during the Blends break-out session.

Wines during the Blends break-out session.

Over the course of the conference, I tasted around 70 wines, the majority hailing from the Santa Barbara County (SBC) region. I was re-introduced to the beauty of the countryside of the Central Coast, something I rarely experienced while growing up in the city of Santa Maria. Turns out I really should have gotten out more.

Imagine…the wine world waiting for me outside of Old Orcutt!

Imagine…the wine world waiting for me outside of Old Orcutt!

But I digress. It’s the wines I’m talking about in this post, not the sunsets over hillsides. After two liveblogging tasting sessions, two workshops on wine blends and the syrahs of Ballard Canyon, two trips to wineries and more tastings there, and multiple big-tent tasting opportunities over brunches, lunches, dinners, and desserts, these 11 wines stood out to me. Maybe they’ll do the same for you.

In no particular order….

1. Charles Krug 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley

I gave this wine, the last one I tried during the white wine liveblogging session, my highest rating of the weekend, though I suspect #11 below might beat it had I taken the time to write down my notes. Regardless, this interloper from Napa Valley overflowed with honeysuckle and exceptionally flavorful Crenshaw melon. When sipping, lime mellowed the sweetness of those two flavors, creating a divine blend.

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2010 Downhill Cellars Torrontes White Table Wine

2010 Downhill Cellars Torrontes White Table Wine
Santa Cruz Mountains, California

Downhill Torrontes

I was delighted to see a Californian winery offering torrontes, which is typically grown in Argentina and is my favorite grape used for white wines. I picked it up on a Passport Day in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The sediment floating around the bottle’s bottom actually looks appealing. The wine smells crisp and of honey and lime with whiffs of peach and cantaloupe. It tastes like drinking flower nectar with an alluring combination of wildflower honey, kiwi, and cantaloupe notes and a bit of cream and lime on the back end.

This is how I like my whites: evoking the tropics and maintaining dryness while allowing for an undercurrent of sweetness. I would, and plan to, drink plenty more.

rating_truffle1

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