6 reasons you should be at WBC13

Today marks 82 sleeps ’til WBC13 in Penticton. I think. Whatever the number, that means it’s soon. Hooray!

If you’re not familiar with the acronym, WBC13 is the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference. 300(ish) bloggers, wine folks, and grape-oriented enthusiasts gather to taste a region – while attending seminars to help hone palates, pens, or postings. This year, WBC is on Canadian soil for the first time – in the heart of BC wine country, Penticton. That’s awesome. It helps that I live within a 30 minute drive, but distance hasn’t stopped me from attending past conferences – in Walla Walla (2010) and Portland (2012).

There are oodles of reasons why someone into wine should attend a Wine Bloggers Conference, and the folks at WBC can list the highlights better than anyone. Past attendees are often enthusiastic cheerleaders, and the host city (chosen by the bloggers) will readily give dozens of good arguments as to why theirs is THE hotspot. Every one of those reasons, endorsements, and arguments are totally valid. Listen to them.

If you still find yourself wavering about attending, I’ll try to give you a push in the right direction. (I’m entirely biased because I live in BC wine country and think it’s skookum)

1. Random encounters with awesome people = new friends. A few friends are in my life as a direct result of WBC. I’m not kidding. Sure, it’s likely we would have connected some other way – eventually. But the combination of time, place, and people made for a solid foundation. Even if I don’t see some of these friends very often, they’re pretty fab to have.

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Summerland, December 2012

2. Full immersion in a region you’re not likely to have such open access to, unless you become a rock star. Let’s face it – most of us are regular folks with a day job and one hot-damn expensive hobby/enthusiasm/habit. We don’t get the red carpet treatment all that often – that’s fine by me. However, I like having a region all to our wine-loving selves for a few days (that’s how it feels). This is the uber-tour of uber-tours. It might not be total rock star treatment, but it’s like having the ultimate backstage pass to the coolest gig of the year.

3. BC makes great wine, and unless you live here you might not get to taste it. That’s not because we’re a bunch of jerks – honest. We’re really nice people. We can’t share much of what we make because this is the land of small production, and we have some hefty provincial and federal legislation issues that make it challenging to trade within our own country – not to mention outside of it. Yes, we export some wines. But not nearly as much as we make and keep here. We have fewer than 10,000 acres under vine in the province, and more than 200 wineries. Do the math.

4. The dude who rocked the 2010 Vancouver Olympics with spoken word? He lives here. Yes, he travels a little more now – but Shane Koyczan calls Penticton home. I’ve seen him everywhere – from art openings to having a beverage at a local diner (the diner has a sweet collection of lava lamps, but that’s another story). Shane is really nice, buys local art, and supports our small music scene. If you see him, say hello.

5. We have turtle crossing signs, because we love our turtles. Originally, well-meaning individuals put up hand-drawn signs to help drivers become aware of sharing the road with our hard-shelled friends. Recently, the Ministry of Transportation (and probably the tourism folks, I’m not entirely sure) added official signage on Road 22 between Osoyoos & Oliver. That totally rocks.

Sloan rocks the stage at Tinhorn Creek, September 2012

6. Sloan. Yes, they’re an iconic Canadian band that every indie group outside of Canada lists as one of their obscure musical influences. No, they’re not playing at WBC. Yes, they DID play at a local winery last summer (Tinhorn Creek). And yes, I have a serious addiction to them – so they’re on every list I create, regardless of the theme. I’ll love them for the rest of my life. (I also have a significant radio crush on CBC’s Jian Ghomeshi – again, that’s another story)

So, get here. If you can. My friends and I would really like it if you did.

~ Jeannette

best third glasses

As I shove my arms through sweater sleeves and cling desperately to the notion of wearing Birkenstock sandals, I realize summer has printed its online boarding pass and is at the departure gate. le sigh…

This means a new season approaches, and while I’m ready for the onset of fall – and love it dearly – I must take a moment to reflect on what the best third glasses have been of this waning summer season. Here they are, randomly selected from my muddied memory banks.

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wrapping art for a client – and loving every minute of it

new spaces

I started a business this year. It’s been two months, and I’m still having what-the-hell-have-i-done moments. Friends advise me this will last a long, long while. A few sips were had at my  new space, M gallery | book. We drank plenty Tinhorn Creek wines, thanks to Sandra and Kenn Oldfield; chowed down on ridiculously tasty treats made by Chef Paul at Local Lounge, thanks to Cam and Christa-Lee Bond; kept caffeinated with delicious beans from Good Omens Coffee, thanks to Jamie and Jason Embree (who got married this summer – congrats!). It was a cornucopia of magnificent tastes, and I’m truly grateful to have had a few sips with such fabulous people.

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1600 wines, and far too little recognition for the people who make it happen – be they volunteer, staff, judge

1600 wines

The Okanagan Falls Winery Association invited me to dine with them as they hosted the judges from Wine Access, who were in town to evaluate 1600 wines entered from across Canada. Roland and Hagen at Wild Goose hosted a great night at their new wine shop; Dana of Joy Road Catering fed us with the most incredible (fresh, local) food; the Association wineries warmly welcomed the judges (and me, the hanger-on) to their distinctive region. An invite to check out behind-the-scenes at such a massive wine competition = unparalleled joy on my part. And really, no envy. That’s a LOT of wine.

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so many wines, so much deliciousness

hops, and hospitality

350+ wine bloggers walked into a conference room…and a bar, and a hotel, and basically took over part of Portland over four days. The 2012 Wine Bloggers Conference was a highlight of new friends, old acquaintances, and getting sidetracked. From an overwhelming opening reception by Oregon Wines, to a captivating keynote speech by Randall Grahm, a detour by Sideways author Rex Pickett to a Bonny Doon tasting, and an exploration of Oregon and area IPAs by Wes of Dobbes Winery (he went above and beyond, that one), this year’s conference was hands-down a brilliant experience. Fun fact: I like hops.

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Canadian indie-rock-uber-musicians Sloan, playing at Tinhorn Creek in Oliver (I know!)

musical interludes

There were a number of third glasses this summer set to a musical score, most of them within a five minute drive of my house. Lucky me, indeed. Strategic placement aside, the best way to explore a few glasses is barefoot on a warm summer night, dancing, surrounded by friends. That’s what I did – several times, strictly for quality control purposes and research. (and I stand by my earlier claim that it takes 3 glasses to get a Canadian audience on the dance floor/lawn)

PS: SLOAN!