Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Wine Bloggers’ Conference in the Okanagan Valley
One of the great things about studying wine bloggers is the opportunity to attend their conferences. The combination of useful information, good food, interesting people and a wide variety of wines makes these events a yearly highlight. This year I (David) attended the North American Wine Bloggers Conference in Penticton, British Columbia. Even though I have lived in Canada for over 30 years, I had never visited the Okanagan Valley. The start to the activities did not seem too promising. We were mustered in front of the hotel, allocated to a fleet of yellow school buses and told that our destination was the See-Ya-Later Ranch. As we ground up a dirt road at the end of our journey some of those more used to the sleek tasting rooms of California and Europe looked decidedly dubious. They need not have worried. We walked off the bus to be greeted by flutes of champagne and a tub of oysters that formed the first of eight or nine food stations provided by local restaurants each paired with an Okanagan winery. The low sunlight on the vineyards along with the view down the valley meant that not all the photos taken were of wine labels. At the end of the evening the main problem for the organizers was herding everyone back on the buses. The rest of the weekend continued in the much the same vein with close interaction with many of the local growers interspersed with informative sessions on a number of topics.
On the research side, and I was there to do research, I made connections with a number of wine bloggers, several of whom had only recently begun blogging. There have been suggestions that the number and salience of wine blogs is decreasing, and certainly one can find numerous sites that have ceased, but both on-line and at these gatherings new, eager bloggers appear. There certainly is greater diversity and specialization in wine blogs and many are associated with other activities, but the citizen wine blog seems to be alive and well. There was also a presentation of some basic statistics from a survey of wine bloggers that was very interesting as their information confirmed some of our own findings, but did not agree with others. They intend to repeat the survey so I guess I will have to attend next year’s WBC to see if these are consistent trends.