’08 US Winebloggers Conference, Oct 24-26, Sonoma, CA

As some of you may know, I attended the first annual European Winebloggers Conference (check out my September archive for posts on that ) in Rioja this past August. Well, it was so much fun and I had such a positive experience that as soon as I got back to London, I logged onto OpenWineConsortium and signed up for the US Winebloggers Conference in Sonoma Valley, CA. The US conference is going to be held at the Flamingo Resort and Spa in Santa Rosa, CA. I thought that the meeting in Rioja was chock-a-block, well the folks out in California have an even more jam-packed schedule for us. Starting things off right with a lunch on Friday at the Kick Ranch Vineyard where we will be sampling wines from the following wineries: Bedrock Wine Company,Carica Wines, Enkidu Wines, Loxton Cellars, Lynmar Winery, Pax Wines, Renard Wines, Rosenblum Cellars, Sangliere, Silent Morning Cellars, and Shane Wines. Later that afternoon there’s going to be a live wine blogging event where we get to try 14 wines from 14 different wineries and we have 1 minute to blog about it! The wineries participating: Boho Vineyards             Bonterra Clos LaChance James David Dark Horse Sean Minor Wines Kanzler Vineyards Capozzi (sponsored but not yet licensed to pour) Killer / Angel Juice        Lionheart Pinot Evil                      Twisted Oak Small Vines Wines Dr. Konstantin FrankWine Cellars Bink Wines Some of the other events scheduled over the weekend: A Blind Tasting Challenge A New Zealand tasting with over 100 NZ wines on show Grand Tasting of Sonoma wines – which should be really interesting as I’m woefully ignorant of the wine from my home state Blogger breakout sessions with a panel of experts and moderated discussions A Blogger Unconference where we bloggers control the content Dinner at the Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery on Saturday night A Luxe Sonoma Lunch which will feature “a collection of luxury and hard-to-find wines from Sonoma’s most renowned wineries” sponsored by the Sonoma County Vintners and Sonoma Winegrape...

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Vidal Hawkes Bay Syrah ’06 of New Zealand

Last week was a busy week – 4 tastings and a London bloggers get-together – Whew! My liver tried to send out a little white flag at about the halfway point but she managed to make it through the week. This week isn’t as hectic, only 1 tasting, 2- tops! Two of the tastings I went to last week were for wineries from Down Under. Vidal winery from New Zealand on Monday at the Bluebird Wine shop and Katnook Estate from southwestern Australia on Tuesday. Australia and New Zealand. Two Antipodean  wine producers with vastly different profiles. One, a powerhouse of a producer, churning out millions of bottles a year.  The other a well known sauvignon blanc producer but gaining a reputation for its boutique wineries and wines that have not  been historically produced in that country. Monday night was a tasting of Vidal wines of Hawkes Bay, NZ where I had the opportunity to speak with Hugh Crichton, the winemaker of the Vidal Winery of Hawkes Bay, NZ. Tuesday night was the turn of Wayne Stebhens, winemaker of Katnook Estates in Coonawarra, southeast Australia to take me on a tasting tour of his wines. Both men were passionate and dedicated proponents of their wines but as my grandma used to say, the proof is in the pudding. Vidal is one of those boutique wineries with production limited to the low thousands, located in Hawkes Bay. They started out as a small family owned winery back in 1905 by Spanish immigrants and were one of the early pioneers of winemaking in NZ. Although they were bought out by Villa Maria some years ago, they strive to produce handcrafted wines which reflect both the terroir and Hugh’s skills as a winemaker. Hugh tries to retain as much of the purity of fruit as possible in his wines, not diluting it with too much oak or overextraction while at the same time pricing it reasonably. We tried a range of his wines but the one that...

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