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2014 WBC Location Vote

by on May 13, 2013

The results are in! Voting for the WBC14 destination has now closed. Stay tuned for the announcement live at #WBC13 in Penticton!

The 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference will return to California for the first time since 2008 and 2009 when we held the conference in Sonoma and Napa. We are working with three excellent wine areas interested to host the 2014 conference and think all three would make fantastic partners.

Please help us decide which location will host the 2014 conference by indicating your preference in our online survey. Please see the official descriptions of each location below (presented in the order the bid was received) accompanied by our comments. You can then vote to indicate your preference here:

We will combine four factors in choosing the host location: the public vote, a private vote of past and current WBC attendees, any restrictions on timing provided by the potential hosts, and the strength of each location’s bid from our point of view as conference organizers. We will announce the 2014 date and host location live at the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference in Penticton.


Santa Barbara County

Nearly 200 wineries call the premium wine producing and wine grape growing region of Santa Barbara County home. Its unique topography and climate offer a diverse growing atmosphere, which would all be showcased during the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference. There are four official appellations (Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, and Sta. Rita Hills) and several other micro-regions within the broad Santa Barbara County designation. It is a region that offers a wealth of diversity featuring Burgundian-influenced Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to Syrah, Mourvedre, and Sauvignon Blanc. The region also offers the potential for planned excursions/dinners in the vineyards and wineries of the Santa Ynez Valley (Buellton, Lompoc, Foxen Valley, Solvang).

Coincidentally, 2014 marks the 10-year anniversary of Sideways, the movie that propelled not only this region but also California wine in general into mainstream, popular culture. No doubt the local wineries will be planning for this anniversary, and our conference will benefit as well from their efforts.

Organizer’s Notes: The WBC would be held at the Marriott hotel in Buellton, which is located in the heart of the Santa Barbara wine region. The Marriott is large enough to accommodate the entire conference, including sessions and hotel rooms. Buellton is 40 minutes from Santa Barbara airport or 1:45 from Los Angeles.


“Lodi Wine Country” has been one of California’s major winegrowing regions for over 150 years (yes – even through Prohibition!). It sits 100 miles east of San Francisco near the San Joaquin/Sacramento River Delta, south of Sacramento, and west of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Here, wineries and farms run by 4th and 5th generation families operate in tandem with a new group of vintners who have brought creative winemaking and cutting-edge technology to the region. Lodi is home to a number of major wineries (Robert Mondavi Woodbridge, Turner Road Vintners, Sutter Home Winery, Bear Creek Winery, Michael David Winery, and Oak Ridge Winery) and more than 75 “boutique” wineries. You’ll would certainly visit a few of these on excursions out to wine country.

Grape growing is truly the center of the culture, and the Lodi AVA specifically has about 100,000 acres of winegrapes farmed by more than 750 growers to yield over 20% of California’s total wine grape production. In addition, its signature Lodi Rules accredited sustainability certification makes the region a leader in sustainability.

Organizer’s Notes: The main sessions of the conference would take place at the Hutchins Street Square meeting facility in the city of Lodi. We would negotiate group rates at a number of hotels within one to two miles of the meeting space. Lodi is located near three major airports: Sacramento – 35min; Oakland – 60min; and San Francisco – 90min. Given Lodi’s rich grape-growing history, we might align the conference with this by adding more content related to grapegrowing and vineyard practices.

Paso Robles / San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo County offers a shared opportunity to welcome the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference to Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo. Conference and guest accommodations (as well as our general sessions, to be staged in an outdoor tent structure) would take place on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Pismo Beach / Shell Beach with excursions into both Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo wine regions.

Pismo Beach offers the perfect pairing of wine and waves in a warm an inviting atmosphere. Beautiful beaches and a taste of California wine country are at your fingertips with oceanfront hotels and distinct restaurants. Visitors can learn about the local culture and discover new varietals produced here in the historic winemaking regions of Edna valley, Arroyo Grande and Paso Robles, all of which are located just 10-30 minutes outside of downtown Pismo Beach and area attractions. Our wine country offers a refreshing perspective and insight on artisanal winemaking by some of the most respected winemakers in California.

Organizer’s Notes: There is no facility in Paso Robles or San Luis Obispo large enough to accommodate the WBC. This is a joint bid from both areas that includes accommodation and meeting facilities in Pismo Beach. Large group sessions would be held in a walled tent, which might present challenges but also potentially a fantastic environment. Pismo Beach is 3.5 hours drive from San Francisco’s airport, three hours from Los Angeles Airport, 1:20 from Santa Barbara’s airport, and only a short distance from SLO’s airport, which offers flights from San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Phoenix.

  • allanwright

    Tomorrow – Friday.

  • Kovas Palubinskas

    When is the deadline for voting?

  • Joel Peterson

    I think SLO/Paso Robles makes perfect sense. Great wines, people and amazing range of micro-climates to show the diversity. They hit it out of the park every year with Hospice du Rhone so I know they (we) would be a wonderful host!

  • Peter Work

    SBC!!! Weather is perfect. Wines are good. Nature is beautiful. Excellent food.

  • Andrew Murray

    Santa Barbara is THE place to host the 2013 Wine Bloggers’ Conference…great wines, proximity to the coast…did I say great wines? Great weather year round. Great things to do when you are not at the conference…hiking, biking, surfing, and of course wine tasting.

  • Joslyn Baker

    Come to Santa Barbara and learn why it’s called the American Riviera. In addition to Santa Barbara County wineries, there is the Urban Wine Trail to explore just a couple blocks from the beach. The weather is perfect year-round. Stay an extra night or two and visit Paso as well. Let’s talk wine on Twitter @Terroirista

  • Cindy Molchany

    Thanks for all the great comments everyone! If you haven’t already, make sure you vote via the link above!

  • James Melendez

    Okay not to be a fence setter but each location sounds wonderful! Already looking forward to #WBC14

  • Jamie

    Personally, I am happy with any of those locations. I will be in attendance next year and CAN NOT wait!

  • Morgen McLaughlin

    We are honored to have Santa Barbara County among the finalists for 2014! If selected, we plan on showcasing the region with some amazing experiences from our urban tasting rooms to the beautiful hills of the Santa Ynez Valley. If you would like to connect you can find me on Twitter at @SBCwinelady.

  • Dave

    Come to Lodi! We will show you a real good time!!

  • Ryan Sherman

    Wine & Roses

  • Kathy

    Santa Barbara County, Buellton. Hands down. This area is and has been a wine epicenter for the Central Coast for many years and offers more than just the wonderful wine. It’s a cultural thing around here and the beauty and climate are just icing on the cake.

  • Dana

    I love Lodi!

  • Michelle Lee Ball

    This is a no brainer — Santa Barbara County (Santa Ynez Valley). Santa Barbara County has far more diversity in terms of micro-climates, varietals and appellations. We have some of the world’s most esteemed and high profile winemakers including Jim Clendenen, Bob Lindquist, Rick Longoria, Chris Curran, Steve Clifton, Greg Brewer, Wes Hagen, Ken Brown, the list goes on and on. We have some of the most beautiful topography in the world where you could go hiking up Figueroa Mountain, picnic at the beach and go wine tasting all in the same day. Forget Sideways, if people really want to experience Santa Barbara County they need to come here. It’s so much better in person.

  • BungRCooper

    As much as I like the idea of meeting in Paso, or in Beautiful Downton Buellton (and eating all that yummy pea soup there), the airfare into smaller airports tends to be prohibitive, and the drive is a PITA from population centers. That leaves Lodi, an under-appreciated appellation, IMHO. The lodging/hospitality options aren’t all that appealing, unless one wants to schlep from Sacramento. Is there an option 4? Sigh.

  • Social Buzz SYV

    Santa Barbara County!!

  • Elizabeth Malley

    Love my Lodi Wines, coming from the Bay Area, I had that attitude that only the Northern Region produced the best wines. I was SO WRONG!! I haven’t been back to the Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley area since I found Lodi 7 years ago..

  • Ryan Sherman

    Some of THE most interesting wines, winemakers and varietals that these folks (bloggers) are writing about weekly – the fruit is grown right here in Lodi. Lodi is the leading edge in sustainable farming practices. An amazing grassroots movement of top notch wines and some of CA’s oldest vineyards. Hands on vineyard experience, hertitage vines, unique varietals – no snobbery or pretentiousness. Wine & Roses is an amazing/first class resort, spa & hotel facility. I could go on….I just may.

  • Kady

    Santa Barbara (Santa Ynez Valley!) is the perfect location for Wine Bloggers to have the wine country experience and to discover the diverse varietals grown there. Plus the food is superb!

  • Camron King

    Lodi is at the ready to roll out the red carpet for the world. We have some exciting things in store for the 2014 conference. There is so much to see and do in our vineyards, our wine cellars, in Lodi!

  • Camron King

    We love that you live so close and know Lodi so well, but there are a number of folks who have yet to have the opportunity to discover or re-discover our amazing wine region and we look forward to sharing Lodi with the world!

  • Elizabeth Smith

    That was my vote as well. Great minds. :)

  • Elizabeth Smith

    I know Morgen from FLX, as she set up my first trip there, and we are still connected, so I did vote for Santa Barbara. I just want to see the conference move around more. The more regions that apply, the better, in my opinion. It may also ease the financial burden of those who live on the East Coast and other areas of the US and Canada.

  • Elizabeth Smith

    I have the new contacts there and I encouraged them to apply again, so hopefully they will.

  • Shawn Burgert

    I am super excited at the opportunity to bring this to my “805′ (area code) for either Santa Barbara or Paso Robles/SLO.

    Logistically for those traveling by air, Santa Barbara makes the most sense. Santa Barbara will also be cooler than Paso in summer temps….I could go on and on….both are great in different ways. Either one, I’ll be happy to see many of you in my play yard!!

  • Shawn Burgert

    I am pretty excited about stealing that ED (Morgen) to SB! There are many in SB excited about the opportunity as am I.

  • Joe Becerra

    With Santa Barbara and Paso Robles, the second place region would be great for a pre and/or post excursion. The two wine regions are about 1.5 hours apart, middle to middle.

  • PullThatCork

    Not interested in Lodi. It’s too close, I always feel funny about staying in a hotel that is only 15 minutes away from my house. Also, staying in multiple hotels makes it tough to socialize and get to the after parties.

  • Heidi Thompson

    I’ve been to Lodi and enjoyed the wineries there. Santa Barbara would be particularly cool for the WBC with the ‘Sideways’ tie-in.

  • allanwright

    Elizabeth, the Finger Lakes region is on our radar. In fact, they bid to host to the conference in 2011 but Virginia won out, in part because of the vote of attendees. The region’s executive director just moved to become the ED of Santa Barbara and they are looking for a replacement. But we’ll be considering them for 2015 for sure.

  • Janelle Becerra

    1. Santa Barbara

    2. Paso/San Luis Obispo

    3. I don’t think Lodi is a very interesting choice. Nice wineries and people, but not compared to the first 2.

    I agree with Elizabeth Smith on having the 2015 Conference in Finger Lakes wine region. Again, I recommend the book Evan Dawson wrote on the Finger Lakes, “Summer in a Glass.”

  • Elizabeth Smith

    I think the conference should move around more instead of mostly the West Coast. It gets very expensive for people from the East Coast to fly across the country every year. I vote for the Finger Lakes in 2015.

  • artpredator

    Love that we’re coming back to California, my home sweet home! Even better, possibly to my neighborhood–Santa Barbara–or a quick drive–SLO!