The Morning After, One Month On

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So here I am now on the other side of something that I’ve been looking forward to since the summer of 2010, when it was wistful just an idea among the small delegation from BC that attended WBC10 in Walla Walla, Washington. I first attended based on the recomendation and encouragement of a fellow BC-blogger who had attended a WBC previously and repeatedly told me that it was soooooo much fun. (Thank you Kathleen Rake…)

Being that this one was on home turf, I knew that it was going to be a considerably different experience. Gone from this conference would be the sense of adventure that comes from exploring a new wine region along with the likelihood that I would suddenly find a new wine or style that I’d never tried before. Faces were more familiar than not but I still got to meet a lot of new people and connect with others that I’d only ever interacted with online. For the speed-tastings, I had met, worked with, or interviewed every one of the winery personnel who were pouring the samples. That’s the luck of the draw for the speed-tastings because where you sit in the room determines which wineries you get to taste and perhaps there were plenty there who I may not have met or tried their wines previously. So the adventure of tasting new wines from a new place was not there for me this time, but I wasn’t really expecting that from this conference anyway.

20130701-222612.jpgWhat I was really hoping to see was how the industry here was received by all of the conference attendees who had never tried BC wine before. Overall, I am very proud of the BC wine industry in showing how well that we can come together as an industry to show the adventurous, eager-to-learn, wine bloggers from all over North America what a great place this is to make wine. As proof, this conference was rated by its attendees as the best Wine Bloggers Conference yet!

It was also a new experience for me because I was asked to present a session on podcasting along with Melissa Voth-Mchugh (photography) and Monique Soltani (video) for session called “Videography, Photography, and Podcasting.” I’ve taught music for 2 decades and have helped others learn about wine for 7 years or so but never has anyone asked me to show them about podcasting or even recording. It seems strange but putting into words (or in this case, a PowerPoint presentation) something that I’ve just done since I was 16. My dad had a home recording studio since I can remember and I started making use of it myself when I was old enough. So it’s always been just something that I’ve done and not really shared with anyone else before. I love new experiences like that for, the challenge alone, and for that I am extremely grateful.

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If you haven’t yet heard the podcasts that we recorded that day, please check them out here and here. Both groups were very interested in podcasting and I hope that they can begin to create their own at some point in the future. I was truly amazed at how far some people in the podcast group had traveled to come to the conference. As I edited the audio from those sessions, I found that I really enjoyed listening to all of the accents from all around North America. I was also really happy to see that the session on “Videography, Photography and Podcasting” was one of the highest rated sessions at the conference.

I’m also grateful for getting to meet new people and try new things. I chatted about Pinot Noir with Dan Sullivan, winemaker at Rosehall Run in Prince Edward County. I tasted through 8 South African Chenin Blancs and was part of the first group of people outside of the 4 members of the wine making team in France to taste a deadly new Gamay blend from Georges Duboeuf. I tasted wines from Uruguay for the first time. I learned about Nomacorc’s amazing synthetics corks. There was so much information there that I felt drunk on that rather than any amounts of wine that I had the opportunity to taste. That in itself makes the Wine Bloggers Conference worth every penny for me. It’s an almost adventurous thirst for knowledge that seems to be a common denominator among many of the attendees and this conference in particular straddled that line extremely well.

20130701-222943.jpgOne of the most special experiences for however was getting to experience the new wine caves at Seven Stones Winery in Cawston for the Friday evening excursion. I had heard about its planning for at least a year or more before it actually began construction. I remember vividly standing in the cold of January on the dirt at the bottom of where the barrel lift is now, looking up through the trusses that were going to support the concrete forms at George’s house. I’ve never been able to look up at someone’s house from 25 feet below the ground and the perspective was amazing. It was a truly special occasion for me to be present at the first function to be held there and I’m so glad that I was there in person.

This will be my final blog post on the Penticton Wine Bloggers Conference although another podcast is not out of the question since I still have a small amount of audio that remains unedited at this time. Thanks to everyone who participated, organized, and otherwise took part in the Penticton WBC13 and to the great gang of podcasting peeps from my session.

Cheers from wine country!

~Luke

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Podcast 136 – WBC13 Podcast Breakout Session Group 1

20130614-140553.jpgThis is the first group of bloggers that attended my breakout session on Saturday morning, June 8th, 2013 in Penticton to learn how to podcast. We had only a short amount of time to learn a few skills about producing a short podcast from the ground up and here is the result – a great conversation featuring a small group and one particularly tasty bottle of wine, generously supplied by Jordan Winery.

It was a completely new experience for me to talk about podcasting, which is something that I’ve been doing now since 2009. I had a great time and enjoyed meeting, chatting, and podcasting with people from all over North America. This is truly the most international podcast that I’ve ever done and I had a blast. Thank you all for coming to see how fun wine podcasting can be!

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Thanks to Allan Wright at Zephyr Adventures for asking me to present a session on podcasting and to Lisa Mattson from Jordan Winery for moderating, guiding the sessions so smoothly, and supplying a stunning bottle of Jordan’s latest Cabernet Sauvignon at the last minute for my podcast breakout sessions. Thanks also to my fellow co-presenters Melissa Voth McHugh and Monique Soltani for sharing the great fun on a Saturday morning!

Click below to listen to the podcast right here:

You can also listen to this podcast on iTunes.

People you will hear on this podcast:

Melinda Augustina from the He Said / She Said Wine Blog
Leilani Carara from The Wine Deviant
Joanne DiGeso
Brent Gushowaty from BCPinotnoir.com
Byron Marlowe @professormerlot
Cindy Rynning from Grape Experiences.com
Amy Gross from Vinesleuth.com
Valerie Stride from The Demystified Vine

A few extra notes to those intrepid podcasters who attended my session – I didn’t really have enough time to cover everything that I usually do to prepare for a podcast recording, but there are a few more tips that I didn’t get a chance to mention;

A big important one is to take a quick photo of your setup each and every time. It will help you remember what everything looked like so that when you get a great sounding recording, you can see how you did it.

Also, if you’re going to use a handheld audio recorder, use only the best (and unfortunately really, expensive) batteries like Energizer Ultimate Lithium. They are worth every penny and won’t run out in the middle of a recording. They will still get drained if your recorder is left on (or gets switched on accidentally) and then packed away after a Wine Bloggers Conference (a completely random example that I may or may not have experienced recently…) so always check to make sure and use an AC plug whenever you can.

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Podcast 134 – Interview with Jameson Fink

20130604-083100.jpgWine Without Worry is the name of the wine blog and podcast by Jameson Fink who lives in Seattle, WA. I first met Jameson in August 2012 at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland and I did an email ‘interview’ with him about BC wine shortly afterwards for his blog. He began podcasting around that same time, releasing his debut episode on Champagne in early January 2013. His topics reflect the same diversity as his blog where the subject of wine becomes a conduit for which to explore all kinds of aspects of travel, art, food, and life.

This is the full and (largely) unedited version of the podcast that I recorded for my presentation on podcasting at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Penticton.

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The Count Down Begins – Where the action is

The countdown is on to the 6th Annual Wine Bloggers Conference in Penticton, BC. This is where the BC industry in the Okanagan valley can really show the world what they can do.

If you have been following the BC Wine 101 podcasts featuring many of the wine regions in the Okanagan Valley, then you will notice that there may be a few regions missing. I am very much hoping to get Naramata involved in the coming weeks and that will likely be the very last podcast in that series. The idea was to get this series completed before the Wine Bloggers Conference and then leave it at that for now.

For people who have been following the wine industry in BC over the last decade or two, you will notice that some of the more historic wineries and locations are not included in this series. Venerable estates like Summerhill, Cedar Creek, and St. Hubertus, or the “Fab 5 Wineries” east of Kelowna are not included. Neither are the northern wineries like Gray Monk, Arrowleaf, or Larch Hills. There are a few reasons for this and I’d like to address them for the record because I’ve never wanted to deliberately exclude any winery on this podcast/blog and it’s important to me.

Firstly, the Wine Bloggers Conference is coming to Penticton and the wine regions in BC Wine 101 are the ones that are closer to Penticton than anything else. There is a pre-conference excursion that will visit Tantalus and other wineries in that area, but the bulk of the action is going to be focused on these southern Okanagan wine regions. Having been to 2 conferences previously, there is only so far that we can go for an excursion and the organizers have set those limits for a reason.

Secondly, regional representation wasn’t there. The fact is that when I wanted to chat with someone about the wineries of the Similkameen, Okanagan Falls, or any of the featured regions, there were organizations in place to receive those requests. There were people who had been hired or contracted to act on behalf of the wineries in those regions. Did that make a difference to the organizers of the conference? I don’t know, you’d have to ask them. I know that I found it generally quite easy to get interviews and chat about the wine regions.

And thirdly, (and most shocking in a way, especially for people like me who have followed the industry closely for years) the wine industry is no longer centred about Kelowna. The real action is in the south. A quick glance at the Lt. Governor’s Award winners from its decade-long existence will show that the most northern winning winery in 2012 was Thornhaven in Summerland. Maybe it’s just the recent vintages, but earlier awards always had strong showings from Sandhill, Cedar Creek, and other grand estates in the Kelowna area. Maybe that’s a sign of things to come? Who knows?

When I started this series, I was hoping that I would be able to get all of the wineries in the Okanagan represented on record for that they do best. It just wasn’t possible within the small scope (and no budget) of my podcast and that really got me thinking about how this industry has changed. I still want to talk about the wineries on Camp Creek road and the glorious rieslings near Kelowna. I want to chat biodynamics, Leed certification, and Pinot Noir until the cows come home. The story of BC wine really begins with a lot of these properties and I really believe that the story of BC Wine 101 begins here.

But the question of representation remains and not just for media oeno-nerds like me. When the subject of sub-appellations really starts to build (and it will), who will be there to represent the regions that may have some of the most unique terroir out there? My guess is that it will be in the south.