The Wine Blog Amplification: New Friends and Wine Conference Musings

A belated but very happy Thanksgiving greeting to my loyal and wonderful readership. In this season, I am extraordinarily grateful for you, my readers: for your enthusiasm in reading my blog and for tolerating my dry Irish wit, wonkish tendencies and nonsensical banter. Thanks for journeying with me.

My recent mainland sojourn brought me to the annual Wine Bloggers Conference, held this year in the Northern California town of Santa Rosa. A weekend of wine, blogger training and best of all, fellow wine enthusiasts! I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with like-minded bloggers who share my passion for food, wine and storytelling. And now I want to share their writings with you! This post introduces a few of my favorites.

I also had the privilege of presenting a panel discussion on Legal Issues Every Blogger Should Know with Ruth Carter, a self-proclaimed geek and expert on all things legal in social media, and Doug Levy, an award-winning journalist and Federal Trade Commission guru. Doug and Ruth also happen to be fellow attorneys (don’t hold it against them...okay, hold it against them). Due to the positive response and panoply of post-conference questions streaming in on the subject, I have decided to write a summary of our presentation in a separate post. Bloggers, stay tuned!


Oh, the Places You'll Go!

This may be shocking, but the conference provided a LOT of wine. There was, in fact, such a perpetual supply that I encountered myself, on more than one occasion, declining free wine. I did not previously consider that to be a plausible scenario.

WBC facilitated introductions to many regions and small wineries to which I previously had little (or no) familiarity. These wineries were primarily small, family-owned and operated, and passionately dedicated to their craft and product. I won't elaborate, as I will write more about these regions and new favorite wineries in future posts. Suffice to say that wine is the new gold in El Dorado, and there is actually a justifiable reason to visit Missouri. (Who knew?!)

Some of my fondest memories from the conference were these dialogues with family wineries excited to share their craft and narrative. This post contains a few photos of my favorite wines. Overall, I gained a deep appreciation for the hard work and dedication of these small wineries. They encompass wonderful people and unique stories, and I am excited to explore them more comprehensively on this blog. Stay tuned!

Oh, the People You’ll Meet!

Although the conference offered informative and practical seminars about wine and blogging, it was primarily about people. And when it comes to people, wine bloggers are an extraordinarily fun crew. (Shocking.) They are passionate, good-natured and creative. There is great diversity in age, background, and expression. With such diversity comes unique perspective and style that is delightful to explore and that challenges me to embrace my own distinguishing voice. I highlight a few personalities that I particularly enjoyed meeting, and now enjoy following.

Reggie Solomon, Wine Casual

Attending this conference for the first time, there were certainly moments in which I felt awkwardly out-of-place. My natural tendency toward introversion did not benefit the circumstances. In one of these moments, however, Reggie sought me out and introduced himself. Remembering the experience of his first conference three years prior, Reggie made considerable effort to locate and dialogue with new attendees. He was friendly, humble and unassuming, yet his conversation was intentionally layered with thought-provoking questions and comments. Fortunately, I will still sufficiently sober to appreciate his thoughtful hospitality.

Reggie’s blog, Wine Casual, is a systematic (and wonkish) exploration of wines and their regions. It is straightforward, sophisticated and informative. Essentially, it is everything I adore. A must read.

Lyn Farmer, Engaging the Senses

Lyn is a character you do not soon forget. Pouring Spanish Garnacha at the opening reception, he was one of the first individuals I met at the conference. Yes, obviously I found the Old World table at the predominantly New World wine bloggers conference. I am an old soul, in many respects.

Lyn is a popular food and wine writer and educator in Miami. He is also an avid photographer, with a variety of business cards that showcase some of his work. (Naturally, I chose the photograph from Gigondas in Rhône Valley.) Speaking at several tasting breakout sessions on the Spanish regions of Cariñena and Rías Baixas, Lyn’s energy, intelligence and dry humor were on full display. This is unequivocally a guy I want at the table to share in good wine and conversation.

Michelle Williams, Rockin Red Blog

I was excited to see Michelle Williams appear on the conference attendee list I was reviewing prior to the trip. As an avid reader of her blog, Rockin Red Blog, I reached out to Michelle prior to the conference in the hope that I might be able to meet her. Michelle, a resident of Dallas, is a veteran of the wine blogging world, and her articles have appeared in a host of magazines and other publications. Michelle is extremely pleasant and kind, and found time to meet with me and chat, despite her popularity and busy schedule. Her articles are concise, informative, and quite entertaining. She also has some great photography, particularly in her travel articles. If you seek more wine knowledge and appreciate great writing, head over to Rockin Red Blog.

Jeff Burrows, Food Wine Click

A few days prior to the conference, the wine bloggers conference posted a recent article by Jeff Burrows titled Sonoma and Napa are Open for Business! I was immediately impressed with his photography talent and overall style, in additional to his concise and sophisticated writing style. I stalked him at the conference and was impressed with his breadth of knowledge on a variety of topics about which I am also passionate, including wine (obviously), science, farm-to-table cooking, sustainable agriculture, travel and business. My inner nerd was awakened and released!

Of the blogs that I have highlighted, Jeff’s philosophy is probably most like my own. We both share a passion for exploring the interplay between food and wine, with an emphasis on photography, pairings and a sense of place. If there is a good narrative, Jeff will find it.

The Musings Optimization

In addition to invaluable networking, the Wine Bloggers Conference refreshed my blogging perspective. The seminars and breakout sessions afforded practical knowledge necessary to navigate a complicated blogosphere.

Reggie and others posed critical questions that focused my own sense of individuality and voice. I am not an industry expert, and I shouldn’t pretend to be. Rather, I am a photojournalist and storyteller that is passionate about food and wine in Hawaii and the broader Asia-Pacific region.

I resolutely believe that the Pacific Rim is full of fascinating people, extraordinary wine, and wonderfully diverse cuisines. There are tremendously talented chefs, sommeliers, and restaurateurs that make this region unique, vibrant and delicious. Through Musings, I endeavor to promote the cultures and cuisines of the Pacific Rim, and the people in it; to hear their stories, to learn from them, to journey alongside them.

Individuals like Lyn and Jeff inspire me to constantly seek ways to improve my photography. For me, the excitement of photojournalism is to capture candid moments, cultural narratives and relationships gained through the breaking of bread and sharing of wine. Looking through the lens should always result in seeing life with greater clarity, and helping others to do the same. Fascinating narratives can be uncovered through a healthy dose of genuine curiosity and kindness. The stories relayed, and accompanying emotions and dialogue, are often the best photographic frame.

While I will still undoubtedly tell stories about science, history and cultures that extend beyond the region, there are many fascinating people I would like to introduce you to in the Pacific Rim. I am excited to share them with you, and hopefully allow you to experience this wonderful community and culture. Along the way, I hope to offer practical wine pairing tips for the diverse, exotic, and extraordinarily flavorful cuisines found here.