This being my very first Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC), I feel it has taken me days to re-enter the real world. I joke that I fell into a black hole during the WBC; fully immersing myself in the experience. Never have I met so many like-minded and talented individuals that cease to tire of wine discussions!

Since I live in Portland, attending the WBC was practically mandatory this year but my means are modest. The wine industry here in Oregon hasn’t yet figured out how to grow many dollar bills on those grapevines nor discovered the seeds for an orchard of money trees. Desperate to soak up everything about wine blogging that I can, the WBC scholarship fund generously stepped in to fill the gap. Expressing my gratitude in this post is just a very small token of my utter appreciation of being a part of this year’s conference. While my fellow bloggers were in my town, I strived to be the “hostess with the mostest.” Being a local has its perks and I hope my suggestions and hospitality helped to strengthen the idea that we’re pretty nice here in Oregon.

So here are 10 reasons why Gratitude is the word I’ll continue to use when describing the Wine Bloggers Conference 2012 (WBC12.)

10. Thanks to Stoller Vineyards for inviting me to a pre-conference excursion down to the winery. Not only were you generous with your time and wine, but also your knowledge. I’m grateful that your vineyard offered my first veraison spotting of the year. You also simulated an Oregon Pinot Camp experience of riding in a school bus! As a volunteer at OPC this year, I didn’t get to ride as a camper so your creative planning gave me a unique perspective I missed earlier this summer.

9. Thanks to all the wineries at the Opening Reception! The minute I entered the room I was welcomed by so many winemakers that have poured wines for me in the past. I did my best to share my favorites with people I was introduced to by bloggers whom I only know virtually. With too many wonderful choices, I had no hope of connecting with everyone in just two hours. I know you all make wine that uphold the great Oregon wine reputation and I shall visit you again soon.

8. My sincere gratitude to the Oregon Wine Board for their contribution to this year’s event. Please continue to be responsible stewards of the money you receive as a result of the self-imposed taxes our pioneers imposed upon themselves when Oregon’s wine industry was in its infancy. Oregon wine is a daunting yet great legacy to bear and here is hoping that you continue to promote a great northwest natural resource to the world.

7. Thank you to everyone at Willamette Valley Vineyards for being such gracious hosts as we poured out of our buses and into the winery. Your tour was informative and your wines offer the palate a great tour of the Willamette Valley. I only wish Jim Bernau had been there to share stories with us but I suppose you can’t have it all.

6. A big pat on the back to Zephyr Adventures, our keynote speaker Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Winery and all the session and Ignite Wine presenters. I am grateful to have learned new best practices from the pros, how the wineries perceive wine bloggers as well as the pep talks we heard over and over extolling our importance to both the wine and blogging communities. In the unlikely event that there comes a day that I don’t feel like blogging, I hope those moments from the WBC12 will get me off the bench and back in the game.

5. My appreciation goes out to King Estate for putting on an elaborate and well-orchestrated meal for us! Your staff was attentive, your food superb and a perfect foil for your wines. And although I overheard some people who thought the QR codes were overkill, I LOVED them! Please keep doing your cutting edge marketing. I have no doubt it will pay big dividends in the long run.

4. Kudos to the many wineries who offered tastings during the day, the wineries who poured during the speed tasting and the after party hosts. Gratitude kept me coming back each night to try new wines, ones I’ve enjoyed before as well as to partake in the most enlightening conversations with my fellow bloggers. By Sunday, my sleep-deprived brain couldn’t operate at 100% until mid-morning  (I was not alone) and I’m not sure I could have sustained another night but I thoroughly enjoyed your hospitality and generosity!

3. By the end of the conference, with gratitude running through a number of conversations, I was invited to participate in a blending exercise at R. Stuart & Co. with owners Maria and Rob Stuart. This event, although not an official part of the conference, really should become a regular session. All the people at R. Stuart made us feel so welcome at the winery- a serious space for making wine right in downtown McMinnville. Not only did they feed us, but treated us to barrel samples of a number of different vineyards from throughout the Willamette Valley. We then broke into small groups to begin blending our own signature wine. Our group chose to name our special pinot noir blend wine Gratitude.

2. A big thank you to all the wine bloggers who attended this year’s event. Without your inspiration, I’m not sure I would have started blogging about wine in the first place. My commitment to the wine bloggers community has been strengthened now that I have met so many of you. I pledge to read, comment and promote your posts much more actively than I have in the past. My gratitude extends to learning what a force we are when we unite together with a common focus. Trending on twitter for two days was EPIC! Let’s do it again!

1. The biggest thank you of all is to the donors of the WBC12 scholarship fund! Without your generosity, I might have missed the opportunity to meet and share wine with so many wonderful people at the WBC12. I am humbled and honored to be chosen as a recipient of scholarship dollars and sincerely hope I served as a good ambassador of Oregon wine during the conference.

Now, go check out these links to the folks who had a big hand in making WBC12 such a unique and rewarding experience for me:

Wining Ways Wine Blog

Pull that Cork Wine Blog

Ancient Fire Wine Blog

By The Tun Travel, Food & Wine Blog

First Vine Wine Blog

Wine Julia Blog

Oregon Winette Wine Blog

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