Sitting in front of the computer preparing to sum up my experience at the European Wine Blogger Conference, I literally feel speechless. Are there words for my emotions, my feeling of warmth and excitement for what’s occurred, along with a touch of sadness and depression I’ve been feeling now that the conference is over? It’s like using an instant camera with the intention of capturing the breadth and beauty of the Grand Canyon. Unless you were there, feeling the hot canyon winds come across the 1,218,375 acres that dip down an average of 4,000 feet deep; smell the rich evergreen and sandalwood aromas in the air; or touch the blazing hot iron soils which kick up fine, red dust under your feet, pictures nor words can never fully describe your experience.
On one hand, I feel a warmth in my heart that has lasted for four days, and I expect it will last well into the future. To see 40+ people from all over the world come together and bond in literally, moments flat, was something we wish would happen among nations everyday. From Friday to Sunday, voices were always raised, bubbling with curiosity and excitement; because how often do you get to speak with someone who blogs in another language as to their perceptions, desires, hopes and fears about wine blogging? For me, not often enough. Instead, I am typically caught in a whirlpool of voices from my own culture, an incestuous conversation that circles around the same view point over and over again. But to have so many different ideas as to what wine blogging is, what we need to do to better our profession, how we can solve our problems, and where we can find solutions was beyond a breath of fresh air, was astonishing! And although we never came to any solid conclusions, we did solidify trust among us, breaking down both cultural and language barriers that hinder our communication to form a cohesive and passionate group willing to continue the conversation well into the future.
Just to give you an idea of the depth of conversation we were able to share, I had a great discussion during dinner on Saturday night with David Cray from Carleton University in Canada on how he can blog about his research on the structure and organization of wine bloggers, allowing us to see step-by-step what has worked and what hasn’t worked in his research. All six wine producers from Portugal, France, Germany and Italy chatted about how they are interested in both tasting and blogging about each others wines to emphasis the fact that even wineries drink other peoples wines. With Justine Keeling, a winery owner out of Tuscany, spoke of her genuine desire to have wineries speak honestly and openly about the daily experiences in the vineyards, rather than promoting only the positive events. Giampiero Nadali offered us some wonderful and innovative ideas on using hedonistic, rather than traditional, tasting notes. And Thomas Lippert offered up his insight on how wine bloggers can increase their credibility by separating themselves from spam and wine aggregators. Granted, this is only a tiny percent of the conversations that were dissected and debated, but it at least gives you a general notion of how receptive many people were in sharing their thoughts. We’ll be going into more detail in the coming days regarding many of these topics.
Oddly, despite these incredible feelings regarding the conference, I am also going through post conference depression (PCD). When I went to drop off our gigantic van filled to the hilt in leftover wine (no complaints, mind you), I literally broke down in tears in front of the Hertz attendant. Among a cloud of exhaustion and excitement, I felt an enormous sense of loss. I wanted my 40+ new friends back. I wanted to have the ability to call someone up and go out for a drink. I missed their kindness, their positive attitudes and the hours upon hours of belly aches I had from laughing nonstop. Look, I’m tearing up again!
I’ll stop before I get my cast wet, but please know that we couldn’t have done this without your belief in us and your willingness to come hundreds, if not thousands, of miles to La Rioja.