It's been a week now and the streets of Walla Walla are somewhat back to normal after WBC10. The very least of the City Father's worries now are those damn fireworks. KA-BOOM! And speaking of fireworks: There seems to be some noise and smoke, instead of light and confetti, regarding the results of the WBC10 in Walla Walla. Is the ultimate goal of these scorching flames to make WBC10 look like a fizzled ol' firecracker who couldn't even pop with the best lap dance?
Now, before you criticize me for being a cheer leading poodle, I think it is very important to address some of what others feel were not so shining moments of the WBC10, however - - only if addressing them is going to be used as a learning tool for improvement. If you must beat upon your chest to be heard for the sake of just being an ol' poopy pants then be gone with you!
Allow me to address some of the flames:
They're bloggers ain't they, so where are all of the blogs? I looked for them on Monday and haven't seen very many?
Patience grasshopper. Many of the wine bloggers traveled miles to the WBC10 and have been on the road for over a full week and of course, many are trying to pick up where they left off with the family and work schedules. An event like this is overwhelming and packed full of information. I even found myself wondering what angle was the best way to present some of the information I had gathered. Like any writer, you use the information that you think your audience is interested in. And certainly, many bloggers will be writing about the event for a few months to come.You may even find information about the results of the WBC10 through Google Subscriptions, syndicated wine news sites that automatically leave the info via Twitter, and don't forget to check out Flickr, Vimeo, and YouTube for photos and videos.
All those wine bloggers really wanted to do was party.Well, yes and no. Through the years many of the wine bloggers have built friendships and networks because of events like this, besides keeping in touch almost daily through sources like Twitter and Facebook. Online tools have, not only given us advantages of discussing wine blogging issues, but to celebrate life with each other from new promotions and expected babies. It's no wonder when we do have face-to-face gatherings we just pick up where we left off on Twitter. If gathering in a hotel lobby sitting in a circle of chairs and couches with friends drinking wine is a party to you, well - you need to get out more. Oh yes - in case you forgot, it is a W-I-N-E Bloggers Conference, not the Welch's Grape Juice Conference.
Sure, there were parties of strippers with flaming pasties and magnums of wine being poured down gullets with decadent abandoned, but don't look at me. I didn't go to that party and don't blame the wine bloggers either who took advantage of the event. They didn't host the party - they were "lured" - lured by fame, billboards, rock star winemakers and SATAN! (It's the license number on his Bentley) - - and frankly? Oh how I wish I had gone or at least been a mouse in a corner. While my brain is young, my body is feeling its age and besides, I needed to be responsible because I drove home every night from the conference. Honestly, it tickles me that many of the wine bloggers could bust out behind their computers and have some fun. Anyways, I have been to crazier parties than that at funeral director conventions - seriously. Seriously.
We had some of the wine bloggers at our winery for a panel discussion. The discussion was a dud and fizzled. The bloggers stared at our panel as if we had the heads of Dick Cheney, John Merrick, and Lizzie Borden on our shoulders leading a discussion on the mating of the dung beetle and how their rituals of combining their units together can be broken down to an algebraic sum. Finally we sparked a little bit of fire under their dead fleshy butts when we broke out the wine. At least they bought some.
I sympathize. I really do. I was a participant in a panel discussion during the WBC10, along with Colby Voorhees from Wine Peeps and Joe Power from Another Wine Blog. The topic given to us for discussion was Wine Blogging 101. Colby, Joe and I had to put together our discussion through emails and then met for about 10 minutes before our discussion to confirm our plan.
I have to admit, there was a side of me that felt we were going to fall on "deaf ears." I thought for sure if we had five people in the room that would be huge! You want us to talk about Wine Blogging 101 with a building full of established wine bloggers? I was already rolling through my mind many worse case scenarios and how could we keep the discussion lively and not fail? If we failed, it wouldn't be the fault of our audience. The three of us would have to take responsibility - - and we didn't even have the opportunity to fall back on some wine sales.
Colby was very instrumental in forming a game plan and Joe and I each had our input. We were really pleased when we saw an audience of at least 20 people! Colby reached out to our group to gather information from them and what they wanted to hear from us. Joe and Colby both gave solid input about the tech side of blogging while I was the "fluff" - the cheerleader. I input a little comic relief once in awhile.
After the conference it actually surprised me when members of our audience actually thanked me and said they left our discussion inspired. If each person left with one bit of information, then we did our job. And besides, if all you do is sell a bottle of wine or two, then consider it two bottles of wine sold that weren't sold before. Isn't that one of the biggest points of owning a winery? The point is, you made a contact. Chances are pretty great the next time they hear the names, "Walla Walla" or "Washington State," they are going to remember your winery and your wine. The conference brought an awareness of Washington wines that will create a residual for years to come.
You bet it was. But what isn't a play to pay event? I have to pay dollars to get into the Walla Walla Fair grounds even if I only want to take a walk on the "wild side" by staring at the carnies and then pay again to eat a bunch of deep fried batter. In "another life," I was an event coordinator for profit and non-profit organizations. I worked with large hotels and coliseums, so I understand the game. Admission alone is your break even if you are lucky and you hope with everything else, there is some leftover "gravy." Even something as simple as the movie theatre, the admission ticket pays for the rental of the movie and the concession is hopefully some profit after wages and overhead.
The wine blogger's are really fortunate to have organizers, Open Wine Consortium and Zephyr Wine Adventures who are very pro-active in obtaining sponsors and participants to help defray the costs of admission to the wine bloggers. And of course, the organizers have their own costs - it takes a lot of time, money, extra travel (yes, they came to Walla Walla a few months before the conference to get a feel for the "lay of the land.") to put together an event, particularly like this one. At a $95 entry fee, this year the wine bloggers really got their money's worth, over and beyond - and a lot of that is because of sponsors and fees to participate. Thank you.
I own a vineyard! I own a winery! This was a pay to play event and only half of the people expected to my tour showed up. I am assuming the other half were still in bed with hangovers. I have a family! I have a life too, ya know. I am insulted!
Don't be insulted. If there were bloggers who didn't show up, it wasn't about you. They also paid to play and if they chose to waste their money by not being in attendance, don't let you being insulted stand in the way of giving your best to the wine bloggers who were in attendance. Those in attendance have families and lives, too and they were there in your winery and/or at your vineyard for you - because of you. So instead of you giving 100% to 30 people, hopefully you gave 200% to 15 people and once again, chances are pretty great the next time they hear the names, "Walla Walla" or "Washington State," they are going to remember your winery or your vineyard and/or your wine. If your group of wine bloggers left with a great experience because of you, then who really cares about the "no-shows?" It's ultimately their loss. Not yours.
Tweeting on Twitter is sad and lonely. Amongst all of the tweets during the Live Wine Tasting Event, I looked for some substance, but I just couldn't find any.
No, sitting at home on a couch with broken springs growing potato chip crumbs and cat hair around your fat ass (or bony ass) is lonely - even sadder if your t-shirt shows remnants of food you ate last week.