31 July, 2009

2009 Wine Bloggers Conference - Day 2 - Review

Saturday , June 25 brought day 2 of the 2009 WBC and, without missing a beat, we were off to the races. Saturday was an action packed day that brought out the best of the valley..the Napa Valley.

While breakfast was on our own, we boarded several busses and embarked on a 45 minute ride over Porter Creek road into St. Helena bound for the CIA at Greystone. Nice. A few nice pastries, some good coffee and an interesting, albeit a bit disconnected view of media and wine from Barry Schuler, former CEO of America OnLine. Of a bit more interest, and certainly more connected for me, was Jim Gordon, editor of Wines & Vines magazine. Jim brought some very interesting topics to the table. Two were very interesting to me:

1) Smoke Taint - Read up on it here and here.

2) Connect with the wineries/vintners when blogging.

Now, this I found really interesting and brought up some interesting questions to the group. We'll make some progress on this thanks to Monica Granados at Balzac. More to come on that.

After the morning sessions, we were asked to board one of several busses and that between the 250+ attendees, we'd be visiting 25 wineries. Wow! ..so as it turned out, each bus was going to visit 3 distinct wineries and come together for a grand tasting. The decision on which bus to board was ours and the destination of each bus was not disclosed, so it was a nice surprise waiting for us. I was determined to stay out of this one and not hop on a bus with someone I knew. The goal was to do something extremely random and to stay out of the deal completely.

I did just that and I was rewarded handsomely!

Our first stop was Stag's Leap Wine Cellars who did a tremendous job welcoming us and showing off their beautiful grounds.

Lunch was lakeside accompanied by two of their wines, the 2007 Karia Chardonnay and the 2006 Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon. Both were delicious with our lunch, but out of our price point. Accordingly, they weren't reviewed.

We also had the fortune to speak with Kirk Grace, their vineyard manager

and learn about his practices and some of the creek repair work the vineyard has undertaken, as well as the legend of the Stag's Leap, seen in the photo below.

A heartfelt thanks to all the folks at Stag's Leap Wine Cellars for being such wonderful hosts and providing us with such a rich experience. Your hopspitality is greatly appreciated!

Our second stop was Palmaz Vineyards, in the Carneros district.

We had a fruitful discussion on family and wineries with representatives from two other wineries, Madonna Estate and Viader Winery. I asked the question "What would you like to tell bloggers? What can we do for you?" Unanimously, the answer was "Tell Our Story." We'll certainly keep to that. Excellent idea!

Back on the bus, we're off to a grand tasting at Quintessa in Rutherford. A stunning facility that's built into a hillside and enjoys the benefits of gravity feeding in their winemaking. The group was fortunate to be presented with nearly 40 wineries pouring around 100 different wines. While the vast majority of the wines presented were in the $100/btl. and were Cabernet Sauvignon, we did find our best white pic of the weekend at this tasting, the 2008 Hendry Albarino. Read more about it here. Standby for a full review shortly.

Unfortunately, we just didn't have sufficient time here to taste. I was concentrating on only about 20% of the wines here and felt rushed, but, to description, it truly was grand.

As quickly as we arrived, twilight approached, and we were back on the bus heading to dinner which turned out to be at Domaine Chandon.

We were escorted into their restaurant Etoile and were presented with a four course dinner paired with
8 different wines.

Of course as this is Napa, most were Cab and not in our price point, but the gem of the entire weekend was the Domaine Chandon 2007 Pinot Meunier (pdf d/l) that was served with dessert. Not what I'd do, but the wine was very enjoyable and would pair more complementary with savory. My initial thoughts on it here. More to come specifically on the P. Meunier shortly.

After dinner we were back on the bus for a seemingly long drive to the conference HQ in Santa Rosa after a full day of adventerure in the Napa Valley. Once back to the hotel, the fun continued with a Portuguese tasting event hosted by the great folks from ViniPortugal.

While we arrived quite late, and I suspect our colleagues who arrived a bit earlier may have thought they got the picks, we enjoyed quite a few nice tastes of Portuguese varietals, including several nice Vinho Verde, and a great Trincadero blend. Our friends Oscar Quevedo and Nadia Adria from Quevedo Port Wines are to be thanked. We relish our time with them and look forward to visiting in Lisboa at the European Wine Bloggers Conference 2009.


  1. jason, thanks for the mention of viader. wish i could have been a fly on the wall, listening to my brother (alan viader) and the others discuss being in a family business!
    btw, we produce half-bottles of our DARE wines that are $20/btl :)

  2. Janet,

    We TOO wish you could have been there. It was a lively discussion and Alan did a great job of discussing the family and legacy in abstract as well as specifically, with Viader.

    We did do a bit of tasting and many commented on the quality of the Viader wine presented to us. I hope that many others blogged about your wine. It's quite deserving.

    If you pricing structure changes, please let me know :-)




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