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Bloggers get immersion into Walla Walla wines

Time:2018-10-08 23:23wine - Red wine life health Click:

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Three Rivers winemaker Holly Turner welcomes bloggers to the 2018 Wine Bloggers Conference. The conference began Thursday and wraps up today.

Vino_Sphere courtesy photo by DAVE NERSHI

The 2018 Wine Bloggers Conference culminated its second day Friday at the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center with what’s been referred to as the equivalent of speed dating between winemakers and bloggers.

Twenty-five winemakers each got five minutes per table to pour their red wines, tell their stories and answer questions while bloggers wrote their thoughts in a live feed posted in real time on a giant screen at the front of the room. When it was done, conference attendees were treated to a more formal tasting from the winemakers.

On Saturday, the process repeated itself with white wines and rosés.

This has been described as one of the pre-eminent events of the conference founded in 2008 and making its return to Walla Walla for the first time since 2010.

For attendees such as Terri Hauser, who made the trek from Virginia, the event gives her the time to experience the wines and listen for particular kernels of information for the stories she’ll tell in her Virginia Wine Dogs Blog.

With her 3½-pound Yorkshire Terrior “Ecco,” short for prosecco, in tow, Hauser has a special ear for wine stories with an animal angle. In Walla Walla, she also found a hyperlocal connection to a particular Virginia wine story.

Earlier this year the owners of Firefly Hills Vineyard had nearly its entire crop of grapes stolen. But in Washington state, Alexandria Nicole Cellars offered to donate more than 2 tons of grapes so the winery could craft its 2018 vintage.

While here Hauser was able to make the connection to capture more of the story from the Paterson winery that came to the rescue.

“It says a lot about the people here,” Hauser marveled. “The wine industry is a community that works together.”

These are the stories vetted between educational seminars, excursions and Friday night’s mystery dinner, where attendees were whisked away in classic cars from the Walla Walla Cruisers Club to selected surprise winery destinations for chef-created meals.

Conference producer Zephyr Adventures and its founder Allan Wright are behind the event, in partnership with Visit Walla Walla, the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, and participating wineries and businesses.

Next year’s conference location was announced Friday as the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia.

From the topics to the attendees, this is a different conference than the one that came to Walla Walla eight years ago. Bloggers and wineries alike can attribute that to a paradigm shift around blogging in general.

“These are influencers with a capital ‘I,’” said Visit Walla Walla Executive Director Ron Williams.

The authenticity of their voices coupled with the accessibility of the content builds credibility with readers. In the case of 200 such voices in Walla Walla, it bodes well for spreading the message about the quality of wine and the character of the community.

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