Sunday, August 19, 2012

Top Five Impressions from 2012 Wine Bloggers Conference

I'm flying home from my seventh wine bloggers conference--I've been to four out of five in North America and three out of four in Europe. WBC12 was another well run event which brought together the ever-growing wine blogging community.
Here are my top five impressions from the 2012 Wine Bloggers Conference:
#1 Oregon is even more beautiful than I expected.
Having never been to the Pacific Northwest, I was truly looking forward to coming here. As I was Stand up Paddleboarding on the Columbia River, I looked up and saw snow capped Mount Hood rising over pine-covered hills. Its magnificence took my breath away.
#2 Oregonians are incredibly nice.
As an East Coaster, I was blown away by the genuine niceness, consideration, and polite demeanor of the natives. Even the briefest encounters included pleasant conversation and warm smiles.
#3 The people are the best part of wine blogger conferences.
I have so many friends in this community that I spent nearly the entire first evening just squealing and hugging as I saw each familiar face. But I also made what could be a valuable new contact and solidified another important relationship.
#4 Oregon doesn't make one-size-fits-all wine.
Every wine lover knows about Oregon Pinot Noir, but I discovered it can be stylistically all over the map: big, spicy, and dense with fruit, or delicate, pale, and earthy. Plus, with Pinot Gris, Syrah,and many more, the state has a lot of varieties to try.
#5 Wine blogging isn't going anywhere.
Five years ago when our small (less than 150) group of bloggers descended upon Santa Rosa, California, for the first Wine Bloggers Conference, we had no idea how this community would grow. This year, there were more than 350 attendees. I met many people who began their blogs just this year, and, amazingly we all are finding something different to say about this seductive beverage.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Columbia Valley perfect for sports-minded wine lovers

As I travel in Columbia River Valley in Oregon, I'm finding it's the perfect wine destination for sports and outdoors enthusiasts. The Columbia River American Viticultural Association (AVA) has a wide range of wines: Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Gris, Barbera, Syrah, Zinfandel, and more. The Valley is also a popular destination for weddings. Hiking, rafting, windsurfing, and more are available for sports enthusiasts, as well as stand up paddleboarding (SUP), which I'll be trying today. The valley is also known for its Anjou pears, apples, cherries, and many other fruits. The small town of Hood River is known for its local breweries, and there is a street that's referred to as Ale Alley in the town.
Cathedral Ridge Winery has a welcoming tasting room, where $5 buys you tastes of five wines. Their Pinot Noirs and Syrah are particularly noteworthy. Autumn is a perfect time to visit the valley, as its fall foliage is spectacular. The historic Columbia Gorge Hotel is beautifully situated on a crest above the river, and many rooms have sweeping views.