Day Two of the Santa Barbara County WBC

Day Two of the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference included additional Breakout Sessions; Wine Discovery Sessions, and more Live Wine Blogging; lunch with the Santa Barbara County Vintners Association; the Panel of Professional Wine Writers; the Wines of the World tasting; the much anticipated announcement of the Wine Blog Awards winners and dinner with the Santa Barbara County Vintners Association which concluded with letting all know about the 2015 WBC location.

The Wine Bloggers Conference never lacks in introducing bloggers to hundreds (really, thousands!) of different wines from the host region, and from around the world.  While Day 2 was packed with many non-tasting experiences in the morning, bloggers were presented with wines from the Santa Barbara County, Greece, Portugal, France, Chile, and from the Fingers Lakes region of New York, where the 2015 Conference will be held.

The Breakout Sessions featured one talk on terroir and two on business aspects of wine.  The “Terroir of Santa Barbara County”  focused on the unique geology, soil, and climate that makes wines from Santa Barbara County what they are.  Presented by Michael Larner of Larner Winery, this session was met with eager questions and an in-depth coverage of #SBCwine country. “The Business of Wine” focused on the consumer and what she will expect in the upcoming months, and year, regarding trends in current and upcoming global wine production, sales and marketing. I (Sarah) was not able to attend this session, presented by Tim Hanni, MW, and Paul Mabray, Chief Strategy Offier of VinTank, but am guessing there were many story ideas that came out of this session about what’s happening in the world of wine!  Hilarie Larson, a #WBC14 attendee, relayed on Twitter:

My head is still full of ideas thx to #WBC14. Now to find more time in the day.

Power blogging twins, Kymberly Williams-Evans and Alexandra Williams, authors of the fitness blog, Fun and Fit, offered practical, easy to achieve information on how to make money as a blogger.  Posing the question: “How many of you actually desire to make money off your blog?” as the ultimate question for the bloggers in the crowd, Kymberly and Alexandra discussed the pros and cons of monetizing wine writing in today’s new media world.  Then offer suggestions on how to monetize with affiliate partnerships, digital marketing liasons, and consulting and wine education work.  Very engaging! sponsored one of the second Breakout Sessions on Saturday:  “The U.S. Wine Consumer: Who, What & Where”, another statistics driven session that covered purchasing habits based on the sophisticated tracking algorithms presented by  More story ideas, here, at this session!  I personally love investigating the drivers behind what makes a consumer purchase what and this session certainly covered current purchasing trends .

Between the Sommelier, WSET, CWE, MW, and a host of other short and long-term wine certifications, it can be boggling trying to decide which path, if any, to take in order to further your wine education.  These certifications were covered by a panel of industry professionals in a frank discussion of how these certifications have helped their wine career in the “Wine Certifications: Which is Right For You?” Breakout Session.

The subject of search engine optimization can be confusing but it’s implementation has a big impact on the blogging world.  Tim Resnick of Moz makes the seo conversation into a lively and engaging one.  The digital world is constantly changing and Tim’s clearcut presentation on how to draw more visitors to your site via Google and other search engines was full of practical information for all bloggers and website owners/managers.

I had the chance to sit in on the Wine Discovery Session, “Dig In: Santa Rita Hills” with Sanford Winemaker, Steve Fennell.  Steve is a natural educator and his leadership on the terroir, AVAs, and cultural significance of the Santa Rita Hills AVA (so much camaraderie in Santa Barbara County!) inspired bloggers as well as educated them about the facts, figures, and history of the Santa Rita Hills. Oh, and the Pinot Noir wines we tasted were delicious, as well…

Peter Stolpman of Stolpman Vineyards spearheaded the “Syrah Territory: Ballard Canyon” Wine Discovery Session.  Wine & Spirits correspondent, Patrick Comiskey, moderated this Syrah focused session with a panel of 8 winemakers from the Ballard Canyon.  A new kid on the block, the Ballard Canyon AVA has the distinct chance to shine in Santa Barbara County wine country with the ability to produce this atypical SBC variety.  The grower-producers on the panel included:  Beckmen, Harrison-Clarke. Jonata, Kimsey, Larner, Rusack, Saarloos&Sons, and Stolpman.

WBC14 sponsor, New Wines of Greece, hosted the Wine Discovery Session, “Ancient Vines…Modern Wines.”  Levi Dalton, sommelier and creator of the podcast, “I’ll Drink to That“, lead this workshop that focused on the indigenous grape varieties and major wine producing regions of Greece.  Levi’s entertaining, engaging, and very educational presentation led participants through the history of Greece’s 300 native varieties and 4000 year old history of wine production.  4000 is a long time to have been making wine and this session was an awesome recap of the past, present, and future of Greek wines.

The blogging world represents the new media approach to promoting the conversation about wine.  The print world and the blogging world converged in the Saturday afternoon session: “Panel of Professional Print Wine Writers.”  This Q & A session was led by panelists James Conaway, author of the Nose, Mike Dunne, whose blog (he’s a blogger, too!) and weekly column, Dunne on Wine, appears online at the Sacramento Bee, and Steve Heimoff, former California Editor of Wine Enthusiast Magazine.  Their panel on what makes wine writing POP was interactive, engaging, and a bit controversial.  Bloggers and print writers communicate “wine” and in a world with thousands of different varieties, brands, and stories, there remains a lot of room for everyone to talk.  As Keynote Speaker Corbett Barr of noted, the blogging world “is in it’s golden age.”  I propose we keep the conversation about blogging and print writing alive and well and collectively continue to promote the goodness of the wine!

Live Wine Blogging, the speed dating approach to tasting and critiquing wine, is always a success at the Wine Bloggers Conference. From a “social seo” aspect, Live Wine Blogging represents the chance for brands to have their wines tweeted about, instagrammed, Facebooked, and talked about online during an hour period.  This social frenzy is FUN!  And the conversations between bloggers and producers are awesome – I was able to participate in Red Wine LWB and thoroughly enjoyed tasted several different wines from around the world and meetings the faces behind the brands in this truly awesome event.

Last item on the Agenda before dinner on Saturday night was the Wines of the World tasting in the outdoor garden pavilion.  Our palates were treated to whites, reds, and a couple of rose wines from Portugal, France , Greece, & Chile.  I tasted Touriga Nacional from Portugal, Graves from Bordeaux, Moschofilero from Greece, and Cabernet from the Colchagua Valley of Chile all at this tasting – a great way to experience wines from around the globe under the tent in Buellton, CA!

Our upcoming blog posts will cover the additional Workshops on Sunday, the post-conference excursions to Bridlewood Estate Winery and the really groovy wine town of Santa Barbara, and the announcement of the 2015 Wine Bloggers Conference in the Finger Lakes wine region of New York!


  • Sarah Wolcott

    We are collecting the presentations from our speakers and will direct folks to the proper location to find them when we are done. See you in the Finger Lakes in 2015!

  • EducatedPalate

    It was a great conference and I’m still trying to digest all of the terrific information. I truly hope we can get some of the power points of the presenters. I look forward to #WBC15!