Monday, July 14, 2014

Dr. Harry Oldman on the Wine Bloggers Conference

With the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference wrapping up over the weekend, I heard from Dr. Harry Oldman, my extern. I was actually looking forward to attending this year, but my wife was in Panama for a conference and I had to stay home with Ben. Having never attended a WBC, I don't have a whole lot to say about the event, but Dr. Oldman was insistent on chiming in. I know I shouldn't give the crotchety old guy the attention he wants, but I suppose everyone is entitled to their opinions.

So, apparently the Wine Bloggers Conference was held this past weekend in Santa Barbara County. I don't consider myself a blogger (more of a human chameleon that can become a master at whatever I choose), so the big event wasn't on my calendar. You know how I found out about the conference? I saw it all over the news. ABC, CNN, FOX and NBC all picked up on the story. It was all Bill O'Reilly and Brian Williams were talking about over the weekend. Even Wine Spectator published a special issue on the conference that arrived this morning.

Who am I kidding, you and I both know that isn't true. The truth is that I was researching how 3-isopropyl-2-methoxypyrazine affects the human white blood cell count. I am almost to the point of scientifically proving that those godforsaken blends of sauvignon blanc and ribolla gialla are detrimental to human health. I actually borrowed Kyle's Twitter account to see what was trending in the world of white blood cells and it turns out WBC also stands for Wine Bloggers Conference. I happened to see that a virtual orgy was happening in California using the hashtag thingy #WBC14 so I decided to peek behind the curtain.

Turns out that one doesn't need to pay the conference registration fees to hear everything that happens at the Wine Bloggers Conference because those that did fork over the money tweet every single word that was uttered and a picture of every bottle that was opened. I'm glad to see that the conference isn't just a gathering of know-nothings blathering about wine. They all showed up to learn from some real experts. One of my good buddies, Steve Heimoff, graced the conference with his presence, and his little dog's, too.  The organizers also let Joe Roberts share the stage with his Heimoffness. But even taken together, those two are not half the wine critic that Dowell is (no, literally if Steve were to sit on Joe's shoulders they're still shorter than the bionic man himself). Palate enhancing drugs or not, Dowell's speech at the Wine Writer's Symposium set the bar for wine writing conferences. Steve was a good addition to the agenda. I suppose the organizers could have invited the self-proclaimed "Best blogger/online writer (in the world!)" to extol his knowledge, but I think he's off his meds right now.

But apart from the sponsored high points of the conference, all I could gather from the tweets was that the conference could be renamed Magic Wines: The Gathering. I mean, who knew that every single wine was so good. I guess that happens when there is less spitting than at a Jenna Jameson movie shoot. It really did seem like the WBC was an actual porn shoot. There was a whole lot of, "I'll show you my punt if you show me your tweet" going on. I mean, I guess the wineries like those bloggers guzzling down all that booze with the hope that they pass out before a critical thought pops into their minds.

Perhaps the main purpose of the conference for the bloggers is to get some facetime with the wineries before they start to grovel for free samples. Little do they know that real critics make the wineries grovel. Did any of you notice how much the author of this blog complained like Nancy Kerrigan when Spectator said it would no longer review Colorado wines? Did he (or anyone else) notice that eight new Colorado reviews went up on the Wine Spectator database last week? So stop your complaining. Sure, regional wine gets slapped around a little, but that's how wineries want it. Everybody likes a bad boy.

And speaking of bad boys, James Suckling must be swamped with samples right now. Obviously he mustn't have the time to moderator his wildly successful forum on his website, so he just gracefully retired it in its prime like Brett Favre. It's hard work being a wine critic, glassmaker and renowned documentarian.

The moment that every blogger held their breath for was the announcement of the Wine Blog Awards winners. The organizers really knew how to make this year's awards anticipated. No one knew when the finalists were going to be announced or who the judges were, so the suspense was almost too much to handle. I guess it is kind of like ordering wine from Maison Ilan. As I wasn't at the conference, I can only assume each of the nominees sat sweating in their seats waiting for their names to be called. Something like the Oscars of Wine. I'm just imaging Hawk Wakawaka doodling disappointment on a napkin as Jamie Goode accepted his shiny new trophy. I'm sure that Jameson Fink got up and interrupted Dr. Goode's acceptance speech by saying, "Yo Jamie, I'm really happy for you, I'll let you finish, but Brownsie has one of the best blogs of all time. One of the best blogs of all time!" I'm sure all the winners appreciate the "Winner" badge they get to display on their blog almost as much as a restaurant cherishes Wine Spectator's coveted Wine List Award of Excellence. Good thing this old guy doesn't need a badge to tell him he's a winner. I just lick myself.

Also found on Twitter. Courtesy @OctoberJones
Even though the Wine Bloggers Conference is over, this week is apparently when all the action begins. All those self-proclaimed journalists will go back to their hometowns, lick themselves and report to their eagerly awaiting audiences. Some of them may even learn to use a comma. Seven bottles of wine will actually be sold because of all the blog posts. Joe Roberts will be off the payroll and finally be able to tell us what he really thought on the subject. And best of all, we'll have to wait almost 400 days until everything is repeated again in Corning, New York. Now I can go back to finding scientific evidence that my palate is superior to that of any hipster sommelier.


  1. Thanks, Dr., but I'd be drawing pie. I'm always drawing pie.

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  3. Sounds like it was exactly like the conferences I attended in 2010 and 2012.

  4. Nicely done, but the event did provide some great info and was more than just a ZAP - like drunkfest. And there were plenty of wines I didn't dig, many of which were from outside of the area. ...


  5. Or, as Harry would say, "Get outta my vineyard!" http://www.coloradowinepress.com/2014/01/damn-right-all-these-teetotalers-should.html