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Omnivore - Guest blogger: Lessons from the Wine Blogger's Conference

Last weekend, more than 170 people attended the 1st North American Wine Bloggers Conference in Sonoma County, CA.

Dispatch from the North American Wine Blogger's Conference



By Hardy Wallace (aka Dirty South Wine)

Last weekend, more than 170 people attended the 1st North American Wine Bloggers Conference (www.winebloggersconference.org) in Sonoma County, CA. It was an opportunity for wine bloggers, industry participants, and academics to get together and crush hundreds of great wines while exploring and celebrating the exploding frontier of wine blogging. I know you’re now glued to your computer- because nothing texts party (in all caps) like a 170 people drinking tons of alcohol while updating their blogs and tweeting on Twitter.

The 100-plus blogger attendees knew why we were there. We had to be. This was the Monterey Pop Festival of the wine blogosphere. But what really interested me were the non-bloggers in attendance. The wineries, media, and sponsors. What did they expect? What did they get out of it?

For years, the wine industry has relied exclusively on traditional media, and has been driven by the voices of a few prominent critics. Many of the non-bloggers, must have felt like they were stepping into the DragonCon of the wine world without a good costume.

Friday's keynote speaker was Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV. In wine's new media, he's part Steve Jobs, part Timothy Leary, and 100% positive energy. Gary's unique video tastings, his love for Web 2.0, and his wide use of the Twitter platform have brought in millions of hits and propelled him and his store into stardom. Beyond wine, Gary is a hyper-advocate of new technology and a paid speaker on social media. Gary stressed to the bloggers to stop trying to get the wine industry to "Get it." They either will or they won't.