Sat 18 Aug 2012
Boy, a lot of people blog about wine. If there were a conference of people who blogged about watches or sailboats or sandwiches or collecting Hummel elves would there be so many? By many I mean about 375, so, sure, that’s a drop in the wine barrel compared to bloggers that concern themselves with national affairs or neo-nazi hate music, but when you see all of these eager shining faces gathered in one place (with their computers, iPads, electronic notebooks and phones), it’s rather overwhelming.
So, here we are at the Doubletree hotel in Portland, Oregon, on what I can’t help thinking is the wrong side of the river from Downtown. The schedule is filled each day with myriad activities, including, yesterday, visits to wineries in the Willamette Valley — everyone piles into buses and isn’t told where they’re going until the buses take off — and today sessions of discussions on various aspects of blogging about wine, including what I’m sure will be an eagerly attended panel about monetizing our efforts instead of endlessly laboring on our blogs for the sake of free wine, a privilege that’s gratifying indeed but doesn’t pay the bills. Later today occur the announcement of the winners of the Wine Blog Awards — keep your fingers crossed for Your Truly in the Best Writing category — and a banquet hosted by King Estate.
What I discovered is that a huge amount of ex officio activities take place, mainly in the form of tastings put on by different wineries and trade groups. Some of these events occur during the day, but most of them fall after hours, by which I mean that they start at 10 p.m. and go on until after midnight. Last night I finally turned in my glass and closed by notebook at 12:15 a.m., after having gone to five tastings — including one that was shut down by hotel security for being too loud — but I know that other people stayed up much later. I can only do what I can do, n’est-ce pas?
I’ll get to the details of some of these tasting events in a few days; I don’t want to neglect some of the spectacular wines that I tried, many of which were new to me, but right now I have to hurry off to breakfast off-site to meet a winery person and then get back to the Doubletree for the first discussion meetings.
Let me add, though, a final observation, and that is that attending a conference like this tends to put things in perspective. You can imagine how gratifying it is to be told by a winery person or importer that “we send you wines because you’re one of the top ten wine bloggers” — yeah, I liked that! — or to have fellow bloggers come up to me and say things like “I’ve been reading your blog forever” or “I’ve always wanted to meet you” or, at least, “Oh, I follow you on Twitter.” And yet just as many times, on introducing myself to let’s say someone who has been to every Wine Bloggers’ Conference, the response is a stare or nod of polite incomprehension. We are never as important as we think we are.