It’s taken me a while to digest all of the incredible experiences of my inaugural Wine Bloggers Conference, and I hesitated to post this, but Drink What You Like has encouraged us all to join hands and sing along. And so I shall, Frank, because you’ve never steered me wrong before.
The biggest takeaway from my first Wine Bloggers Conference is this: remember your roots.
Maybe it’s the 300 years of southern heritage ingrained into my being, the years of cotillion and white-gloved etiquette lessons (yes, we still do that where I’m from!). Where I’m from, people smile a lot. I was taught that when I’m at a professional conference to be “on”, engaged, making introductions. Please don’t confuse that energy for youth- it’s the four shots of espresso I just had and years of hard wiring.
It’s the fact that I respect trailblazers in the field of wine writing and blogging enough to shake their hands with a smile, to make elevator introductions, to share a glass of wine and hopefully to learn from them. I believe that honey catches more flies than vinegar. I also believe that honesty doesn’t have to come wrapped in barbed wire.
Winemakers who neglect their rootstock suffer the consequences. There is no amount of cellar manipulation and marketing that can fix phylloxera. Ya know what can? Grafting what doesn’t work with what does; marrying new world with old.
Just as winemakers must adapt, so must wine writers. And I’d like to think we can do so with a bit more hospitality and grace (and certainly more espresso.) Call me old-fashioned. Call me East Coast. Call me naïve, or young, or inexperienced.
Whichever of these things I may be, I was shocked at the frenzy of posts and commentary in the aftermath of the conference. People are too young, too old, too white, too male. They’re over-qualified, over-paid members of a dying field. They’re too perky. Wines were too Napa, or too corporate, or not from “real” wine country. I know we all have opinions (narcissism perhaps?), but too many people seem to have replaced their manners with egos somewhere along the line.
(By the way, that’s why people don’t like wine professionals. They think we’re snobs. People don’t like snobs- they DO like wine.)
I’d like to think that if people would let the egos go, we could all learn a bit more- from the panelists and from one other, old guard and new.
But I’d be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge the plethora of absolutely lovely people I met in California: Twitter friends, acquaintances turned friends, winemakers and strangers alike who took this rookie under their wing with a smile, advice, airport pickups, impromptu road trips, a glass of wine chilled in a heart shaped tub (who knew those still existed?!). So thank you- for the invitations and guidance, kind words and smiles. It was an outstanding few days and I look forward to seeing you all next year.