All events were held at the host Marriott Hotel in Buellton, Santa Barbara County, California unless otherwise noted. Please see a full description of events below the agenda.
Wednesday, July 9
12:30 PM Pickup at San Jose International Airport for Pre-Conference Excursion with the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance. Additional Cost. UPDATE: This excursion is FULL (and final details for participants are being sent directly by the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance). See Excursion page for details on our open, post-conference excursion options.
Thursday, July 10
5:00 PM Pre-Conference Excursion finishes at the hotel
7:00 – 10:00 PM Registration (Ballroom Foyer), Gift Suite (Grandstand Room), Expo and Opening Wine Reception (Turf Club Ballroom)
* though we will have a few sponsors serving small bites, we do recommend eating dinner in advance, on your own)
10:00 PM After-Hours Dessert Party, Live Music, and Wine! with the Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country Association (Departures from Front Entrance – continuous bus service beginning at 10:00 PM; last pour is at 11:45 PM)
* Standing Sun Winery, 92 Second Street, Buellton, 93427
Friday, July 11
9:45 – 11:45 AM Registration Continues (Ballroom Foyer); Gift Suite Open (Grandstand Room)
10:00 – 11:45 AM Discover Portugal: Influences Around the World – A Food & Wine Pairing Brunch Hosted by Wines of Portugal (Grandstand Tent)
12:00 – 12:15 PM Conference Opening (Turf Club Ballroom)
12:15 – 1:00 PM Keynote Speech – Corbett Barr of Fizzle (Turf Club Ballroom)
1:00 – 2:00 PM Panel of Santa Barbara County Winemakers (Turf Club Ballroom)
2:00 – 3:15 PM Live Wine Blogging – Whites & Rosés (Turf Club Ballroom)
3:30 – 4:30 PM Wine Discovery Breakout Sessions
- Wine Discovery hosted by Rutherford Hill and Duckhorn Wineries – #MerlotMe (Jockey Club)
- Wine Discovery Hosted by Winebow – When the Sum is Greater than its Parts: Wine Blends from Around the World (Pavilion Tent- Lobby Level)
- Wine Discovery Hosted by Jackson Family Wines – How the Pros Taste (Hotel Lobby)
4:30 – 5:00 PM BREAK
5:00 – 8:30 PM Excursions into Santa Barbara County Wine Country (departures from Front Entrance)
* Please dress comfortably for the excursions – including shoes appropriate for walking and a sweater/jacket for the evening.
8:30 – 10:30 PM Reception: Wine Tourism Throughout North America Hosted by Touring & Tasting Marketing and Media (Outdoor Garden Pavilion Patio)
10:30 – 12:30 PM Jordan and J Wineries Official After Party: You must pre-register to attend and space is limited.
Saturday, July 12
9:30 – 10:30 AM Breakout Sessions
- Terroir of Santa Barbara County (Pavilion Tent)
- The Business of Wine (Turf Club Ballroom, Salon A)
- The Business of Blogging (Turf Club Ballroom, Salon B)
10:45 – 11:45 AM Breakout Sessions
- The U.S. Wine Consumer: Who, What & Where (Turf Club Ballroom, Salon A)
- Wine Certifications: Which is Right for You? (Pavilion Tent)
- Search Engine Optimization (Turf Club Ballroom, Salon B)
11:45 AM – 1:15 PM Lunch with Santa Barbara County Vintners Association (Grandstand Tent)
1:15 – 2:15 PM Wine Discovery Breakout Sessions
- Wine Discovery Hosted by Sanford Winery – Dig In: Sta Rita Hills (Jockey Club)
- Wine Discovery hosted by Ballard Canyon Grower Producer Wineries – Syrah Territory: Ballard Canyon (Turf Club Ballroom)
- Wine Discovery hosted by New Wines of Greece – Ancient Vines… Modern Wines (Pavilion Tent)
2:30 – 3:30 PM Panel of Professional Print Wine Writers (Turf Club Ballroom)
3:30 – 4:30 PM Live Wine Blogging – Reds (Turf Club Ballroom)
4:30 – 6:15 PM Wines of the World – Portugal, France, Greece & Chile (Outdoor Garden Pavilion Patio)
6:30 – 7:00 PM Wine Blog Awards Presentation (Turf Club Ballroom)
7:00 – 9:00 PM Dinner with Santa Barbara County Vintners Association (Turf Club Ballroom)
9:00 – 9:15 PM Announcement of 2015 and Official Conference Close (Turf Club Ballroom)
Sunday, July 13
9:30 AM – 11:30 PM Block Sessions
- Photography & Videography for Wine Bloggers (Turf Club Ballroom, Salon B)
- Wine Writer’s Workshop (Jockey Club) – Requires pre-registration (now closed)
- Supercharging Your Blogging With WordPress.com (Turf Club Ballroom, Salon A)
12:00 PM Depart from front entrance for post-conference lunch at Bridlewood Estate Winery. Additional $15 cost. See Excursions page for details. UPDATE: This excursion is FULL. See Excursion page for details on the open, post-conference excursion option to Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone.
3:30 PM Return to host hotel in Buellton from post-conference lunch
3:45 PM Continue to Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone for optional winery and food truck tour followed by dinner at Santa Barbara Winery. Excursion ends in the evening and you can stay the night in Santa Barbara or continue on from here. Additional $15 cost. See Excursions page for details.
Corbett Barr – Fizzle
Read our announcement of Corbett Barr as Keynote here.
Corbett Barr is a leader within the blogging world – teaching and mentoring others as they navigate new media and the challenges of standing out online. He runs Fizzle.co, a training portal and online community where entrepreneurs and bloggers come together to learn how to launch and run successful online businesses and projects.
Registration, Expo, Gift Suite, and Opening Wine Reception
This is the grand opening of the conference. Attend the Expo filled with our sponsors, many of whom will be pouring wine for you. Visit the Gift Suite where you can choose what items donated by our sponsors you wish to take with you. This is the main opportunity to pick up your name badge for the conference, although the registration desk will also be open on subsequent days.
Uncorked After Party
This event directly follows the registration, expo, and opening wine reception. Wine, dessert & live music all happen at Standing Sun Winery and in conjunction with the Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country Association. All 15 wineries represented by the association will be present, pouring their wines. Shuttles will run back and forth between the conference hotel and the event location (just 1/2 mile from the hotel) until midnight.
Discover Portugal: Influences Around the World – A Food & Wine Pairing Brunch
This brunch, hosted by Wines of Portugal, showcases the wonderful blends from Portugal that have the versatility to pair with the whole spectrum of foods from countries where the Portuguese Empire traveled around the world: Brazil, India, Sri Lanka, Macau, Japan, China, Indonesia, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea. Portuguese varieties included in the brunch include: White grapes such as Alvarinho, Encruzado, Arinto, Fernao Pires and Red grapes such as Touriga Nacional, Aragonez/Tinta Roriz, Baga, Castelao Trincadeira, and Touriga Franca.
Panel of Santa Barbara County Wine Makers
The region’s rich history will come alive as told by Santa Barbara County wine industry pioneers Bob Lindquist of Qupé, Richard Sanford of Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards, Ken Brown of Ken Brown Wines, and Richard Longoria of Longoria Wines. The panel will be moderated by Larry Schaffer of Tercero Wines.
Wine Discovery hosted by Rutherford Hill – #MerlotMe
The noble Merlot varietal has been derided by some and dismissed by others, all the while maintaining its legacy of rich character. Does this varietal belong in the company of its more powerful cousin Cabernet Sauvignon?Can Merlot make a come-back with the cool kids in school? Join winemaker Marisa Taylor of Rutherford Hill and Duckhorn Viticulture Director, P.J. Alviso who have bet their careers on this misunderstood grape. Explore Merlot’s viticultural history, dig into the sub-appellations of Napa Valley, and taste and discover the unique flavor profiles of Merlot. Just say, #MerlotMe.
Wine Discovery Hosted by Winebow – When the Sum is Greater than its Parts: Wine Blends from Around the World
To blend or not to blend – that is the question! Actually, that’s just one of the many questions that this fun and interactive session will explore! Join Master of Wine Sheri Morano to taste through a selection of exciting blends from all over the world while discussing whys, hows and the traditions behind the practice of blending. We’ll debate why there are grapes that “play better with others” and whether or not there are some grapes that just seem to prefer to keep to themselves. As we taste through each blend blind, participants will have the opportunity to hone their tasting skills and learn more about what a taster looks for on the nose and palate when tasting blends.
Wine Discovery Hosted by Jackson Family Wines – How the Pros Taste
How do we analyze a wine while capturing its unique story? Discover more about the sensory and analytical process employed by wine pros as they translate what’s in the glass into words on the page. You’ll refine your own strategy for critiquing wine while learning more about the complexities and insights behind wine evaluation. The discussion will be led by Steve Heimoff (former California wine critic for The Wine Enthusiast) and features panelists Joe Roberts (acclaimed wine blogger) and Patrick Comiskey (wine critic for Wine & Spirits Magazine) as they reveal the methods behind effective wine assessment and wine writing for the public.
Live Wine Blogging
Live Wine Blogging is a unique event pioneered at the very first Wine Bloggers Conference. Conference participants will sit at tables and be presented with one wine by one winemaker. The winemaker has five minutes to pour the wine, tell you his or her story, and answer your questions. We then ask winemakers to rotate to the next table for a total of 10 wines and 50 minutes. All this while, attendees will record their thoughts via blog and social media. Whites & Rosés will be presented on Friday and red wines on Saturday. If you are so good as to be able to write about all 10 wines on the spot – either in 10 posts or one summary – send us the link immediately after the sessions and we will highlight them on this website.
Excursions into Santa Barbara County Wine Country
One of the great advantages of moving the WBC to a new location each year is being able to experience not just the local wines but the local wine country. On Friday we will board buses and head out to various vineyards and wineries for education about the local wine area, tastings of wines, and dinner. Each bus heads to a different area and we don’t know which one will head where, so just jump on board!
Reception: Wine Tourism Throughout North America Hosted by Touring & Tasting Marketing and Media
Touring and Tasting Marketing & Media is gathering a variety of winery and tourism associations from throughout North America to present their wine country experience to you. Meet key players, learn about new wine areas, and taste some of their showcase wines in this post-excursions reception. Plus, this is the gathering place where you can learn what happened on all the other buses! Regional hosts include Pismo Beach CVB, Visit Loudoun, Lodi Wine, Visit Tri-Valley, Ventura County Vintners Association, Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association, Visit Spokane, Wine Growers of Dry Creek Valley, St. Helena Chamber and Treasury Wine Estates
Terroir of Santa Barbara County
What is it about the soil and climate that makes wines from Santa Barbara County taste delicious? Michael Larner of Larner Winery will provide an overview on the Terroir of Santa Barbara County. He holds a bachelor degree in Geology from The University of Colorado in Boulder and a Masters degree in Viticulture and Enology. Michael makes wine for his family estate winery and for Coquelicot Estate Vineyard.
The Business of Wine
Tim Hanni, Master of Wine, Certified Wine Educator and Wine Industry Faculty at Sonoma State University, along with Paul Mabray, Chief Strategy Officer of VinTank will discuss current trends in the business of wine production, sales and marketing. This is your chance to get the inside scoop on what is happening in the business of wine. You are sure to get lots of potential story ideas!
The Business of Blogging
“Monetization” with regards to wine blogging is the much-discussed topic of producing an income stream from a blog. At the very first WBC back in 2008, we had one keynote speaker tell us “you can all make millions of dollars from your blogs” and two veteran wine bloggers (as veteran as existed in 2008) “don’t expect to make any money from your blogs”. The desire to monetize and the difficulty doing it are still with us today. One thing we have learned from other blogging niches is monetization often takes the form of off-site revenue: consulting, brand ambassadorships, writing/editing, blog-to-job, or related events. Learn from Kymberly Williams-Evans and Alexandra Williams, two sisters and authors of the fitness blog Fun and Fit, who will talk about off-website monetization in the fitness blogging world and how that might translate to wine blogging.
The U.S. Wine Consumer: Who, What & Where
Michael Osborn, founder & VP Merchandising of Wine.com, will present current trends in the purchasing behavior of the U.S. Wine Consumer. Contrasting recent Wine.com sales data with current trends reported from Nielsen and the Wine Market Council surveys, Mike will share his expert consumer insights. You’ll learn current demographics of today’s wine consumer and their purchasing behaviors regarding price point, varietals & regions.
Wine Certifications: Which is Right For You?
The last decade has seen the explosion of wine blogging, and for the last 15 years, wine certification programs have been on a parallel trajectory. Where do these worlds intersect? WSET, MS, CWE, MW—what do these letters mean after someone’s name? What does it take to study in these programs, how long do they take, and how much do they cost? Come learn from a panel of industry professionals: Geralyn Brostrom, CWE, WSET Level 3, certified trainer, wine educator and co-founder of Italian Wine Central; Joe Herrig, CSW, certified sommelier, WSET Level 3, portfolio manager at Atlanta Beverage Company and owner of the blog Suburban Wino; and Jonathan Cristaldi, WSET Level 3, deputy editor of The Tasting Panel Magazine/The SOMM Journal and contributor to LA Mag, Thrillist and First We Feast. In addition to deciphering the different programs, they will discuss why they chose their specific paths to certification and share how their studies have influenced their print writing, blogging, and overall wine careers.
Search Engine Optimization
Tim Resnick from Moz will teach you how to maximize your visibility on search engines. Moz is one of the leading search engine optimization (SEO) firms on the planet and Tim has spoken at the Wine Bloggers Conference before. If you are interested to draw more visitors to your site via Google and other search engines, this breakout session is for you.
Wine Discovery Hosted by Sanford Winery
Dig In: Santa Rita Hills – Sanford Winemaker, Steve Fennell, will dig in to the Sta. Rita Hills American Viticultural Area (AVA) located in Santa Barbara County, California, focusing on what makes the region so unique. Sta. Rita Hills AVA is home to over 59 vineyards, totaling 2,700 hundred acres planted primarily to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. You will examine soil samples, explore the climate and taste Pinot Noirs from a number of Sta. Rita Hills wineries, coming away with a new appreciation for this remarkable AVA.
Wine Discovery Hosted by Ballard Canyon Grower Producer Wineries
Syrah Territory: Ballard Canyon – Patrick Comiskey, senior correspondent for Wine & Spirits, examines his favorite varietal, Syrah. Specifically, Patrick will focus a panel of 8 winemakers on Syrahs from Ballard Canyon AVA.
Located in the heart of the larger Santa Ynez Valley AVA of Santa Barbara County, the TTB published the Ballard Canyon AVA on October 30th, 2013. Not only is it the newest American Viticultural Area in California, but Ballard Canyon is the only domestic appellation focused on Syrah. Throughout the seminar, the winemakers will explain why Ballard Canyon is the ideal territory for Syrah by pouring attendees each of their Estate-Grown Syrahs. The grower-producers on the panel include: Beckmen, Harrison-Clarke. Jonata, Kimsey, Larner, Rusack, Saarloos&Sons, and Stolpman.
Wine Discovery Hosted by New Wines of Greece
Ancient Vines… Modern Wines – Although the Greeks, with over 300 native varieties, have been making wine for well over 4000 years, it has been the revival of the Greek wine sector during last 25 years that has made it one of the hottest emerging wine regions in the world today. Levi Dalton, sommelier and creator of the podcast, I’ll Drink to That , will lead a workshop exploring the indigenous grape varieties and major wine producing regions of Greece. Please join us for this rare opportunity to experience the Eternally Modern wines of Greece from one of the most knowledgeable and entertaining wine geeks around.
Panel of Professional Print Wine Writers
Hear from three professional print wine writers who will share stories of their professional wine writing experiences, how best to work with industry representatives, along with their thoughts on what makes for good wine writing. Panelists include, Nose author James Conaway; Mike Dunne, whose blog and weekly column Dunne on Wine, appears online at the Sacramento Bee; and Steve Heimoff, former California Editor of Wine Enthusiast Magazine, who is now with Kendall-Jackson. Our moderator is Taylor Eason.
Wine Blog Awards Presentation
We again are thrilled to have Alan Kropf, editor of Mutineer Magazine, presenting the 2014 Wine Blog Awards. Alan is a veteran at this and is always creative and fun. This is an excellent opportunity to honor outstanding wine bloggers as well as start our evening on the right note.
Photography and Videography for Wine Bloggers
Join us for a dynamic workshop with experts in wine photography and videography led by Lisa Mattson, a thought leader in video storytelling, social media and digital brand strategy for luxury wines. After a brief introduction, renowned photographer George Rose, blogger and content strategist Whitney Adams of Brunellos Have More Fun (Wine Blog Awards Best Photo/Video finalist two years in a row) and professional commercial director Claire Thomas of The Kitchy Kitchen will guide break-out sessions on best practices for creating and incorporating photography and videography on your blog. As Jordan Vineyard & Winery, Lisa developed the The Journey of Jordan blog in 2010, which was named Best Winery Blog (2013, 2012) and Best Photo/Video Blog (2013) by the Wine Blog Awards. Lisa presented on this topic at last year’s conference, along with George, and it was one of the highest-rated sessions.
Wine Writer’s Workshop
We will have our same three professional print wine writers offer a special two-hour Sunday morning workshop, giving a limited number of conference attendees the ability to learn from these pros in a small group setting. Details coming soon.
Supercharging Your Blogging With WordPress.com
Did you know that over one in five websites use WordPress? Andrea Middleton from Automattic (creators of WordPress.com) joins us to talk about how to supercharge your blogging with WordPress and the options available to create a better wine blog. This session will be super useful to those of you already using WordPress, but many of the ideas will also be applicable to other platforms.