Wine Bloggers Convene in Napa Valley at Second Annual Conference

 

7/30/2009 - St Helena, CA--On Saturday July 25, the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV), non-profit trade association hosted 275 wine media and industry insiders at the second annual Wine Bloggers Conference. The Napa Valley day provided the centerpiece of the conference with vintners hosting attendees at 26 locations from The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone (CIA) to vineyard and winery locations valley-wide, featuring nearly 90 member wineries from the renowned winegrowing region.

"Our goal was to provide these key communicators the opportunity to get out to the wineries and be in the vineyards for hands-on authentic experiences with our vintners," said NVV PR Committee Chairman Garen Staglin of Staglin Family Vineyards. "And, we wanted to provide relevant, in-depth information on topics that would generate conversation, which is what we believe the blogging community is seeking."

NVV Board President Paula Kornell welcomed the group at the opening session at The CIA outlining the day, followed by keynote speaker Barry Schuler, former chair of America Online and owner of Meteor Vineyards. Schuler, known for his high-spirited presentations was true to form with tongue in cheek, telling the attendees of the days when he and Al Gore were "inventing the Internet and knew they were on to something that would truly change the world."

Schuler looked to the future of media and believes that the current economic crisis coupled with new communication technologies would not bode well for traditional print publications, calling today "Death Valley" for such venerables as The New York Times and Time Warner. He said social media, like blogging, is just beginning to take shape. Jokingly, he posed the question as to whether Twitter might become the equivalent of CB radio communications of the 1970s, which brought roars from the audience while presenting an interesting perspective of the new media frontier.

Jim Gordon, editor of wine trade publication Wines and Vines Magazine and executive director of the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers held each year in Napa Valley, offered a well-received address saying, "Wine bloggers would do well to learn as much as they can about grapegrowing and winemaking to add substance to their online content," and offered "You need to follow trends, stay ahead of the news and keep content fresh and relevant so as to attract readership."

Following the keynotes addresses at The CIA, the participants were shuttled by eight different busses on what attendees soon came to call "The Magical Mystery Tour," as they were not told where they were going. Each of the eight buses went to different wineries for a picnic lunch at a vineyard that is enrolled in the Napa Green program. Here bloggers learned about the wine industry's most comprehensive land and winery production green initiative that renowned environmentalist and Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard noted in an interview with Wine Spectator, "…this is the best, most well-thought-out program I’ve ever seen."

The mystery tour continued to the next eight winery locations where bloggers were presented vintner-led panel discussions on topics including:
-Winemaker's Perspective: style migration or climate change-what are we tasting in Napa Valley wine?

-Following in the Family Footstomps: an industry in transition

-What's in a Name: do AVAs matter?

-Winemaking in the Napa Valley: past, present and future

-Size Matters: unique challenges and opportunities in the marketplace for wineries of various sizes

Giving Value at multiple price points

"When the event organizers announced the 2009 program dates, we offered our assistance in content development and I think they realized the potential opportunities the NVV and its members could offer the conference. We have been engaged with the blogger community for a long time and were happy to help ramp up the program," said Staglin.

Vintners were enthusiastic supporters of the conference from the beginning. Asked why St. Supery chose to host a vineyard visit for bloggers during the 3-day conference, Tina Cao, the winery's Marketing and PR manager echoed the sentiments of the other 85 vintners throughout the valley who also hosted, presented or poured for the bloggers: "We realize that consumers are getting information from their peers. Information isn't one-sided, it's viral and everyone's opinion is valuable to someone."

As the day progressed, the shuttles converged at a grand tasting at Quintessa winery in Rutherford before attendees were once again whisked off to eight more different wineries for intimate, casual dinners with vintners, providing the consummate insider's view of the Napa Valley and its winemakers.

The NVV has its own newly-launched blog at www.napavintners.com/blog and fans can follow on www.Facebook.com/NapaVintners and www.Twitter.com/NapaVintners

The Napa Valley Vintners is the non-profit trade association responsible for promoting and protecting the Napa Valley appellation as the premier winegrowing region. The organization celebrates its 65th anniversary this year. From seven founding members in 1944, today the association represents nearly 350 Napa Valley wineries and collectively is a leader in the world-wide wine industry. To learn more about our region and its legendary American wines, visit www.napavintners.com.



Contact: Terry Hall, Communications Director 707-968-4217 thall@napavintners.com