I've never been one to resist peer pressure. I say when the times get tough, do what everyone else is doing. So, in that spirit, here is my "what I learned" post from #wbc10. Please forgive me if I talk a lot about bloggers in this post, but improving my craft as a blogger was really the purpose of the conference, and I promise I will get the blog stuff out of my system and not write about it again for a while.

  1. The wine blogging community seems to be doing pretty well in the authenticity category – One of the first things that I noticed after meeting IRL a lot of the people I’ve been following online, I felt like most of them were EXACTLY what I would have expected from their online personas. I think this is a testament to the job that these people do with crafting their sites in an authentic manner.
  2. Never underestimate the ability of the city of Walla Walla to put on an event – There were a lot of concerns that I heard expressed over the last few months about whether Walla Walla could handle all of us bloggers descending on their city, but now that it’s all over, I would have to say that the city, and especially the staff of the Marcus Whitman Hotel, exceeded every expectation that I had. The entire city really rolled out the red carpet for us.
  3. Joe Herrig (Suburban Wino) and Steve Paulo (Notes From the Cellar) could keep me in stitches for hours on end. Getting them together in a room was like watching a comedic tornado forming.
  4. There ain’t no party like a Hardy Party. The less said about this, the better. I will say that I was lucky enough to have Hardy (Hardy Wallace of Dirty South Wine for those who haven’t guessed already) pour some Salinia wines, which is the next best thing to trying some NPA juice. Funky-liscious stuff.
  5. High alcohol wines are not exclusively a California problem. I had a number of wines that I really enjoyed on the trip to Washington, but I have to say that there was as much heat as a Texas summer on several of the wines that I tasted. This is sometimes treated as a natural occurrence by the people that we talked to at the wineries, but I attended a tasting at Paul Gregutt’s house where we were poured some really lovely Washington wines with balanced alcohol from just a few years ago, and some of those same producers are now making wines with much more heat. Go figure.
  6. I need to be more strategic and intentional (couldn’t think of another overused buzz word to employ here) with my blog. There are lots of online tools and strategies that I could be using that would really make my site more useful for readers, and help me reach a wider audience. First target is my hellacious sidebar. Expect to see some changes.
  7. Speed tasting…, not for me.
  8. There is a lot of untapped potential for collaboration and cooperation between bloggers and print media. Steve Heimoff stepping into the sandbox to spend time talking with us, and observing us anthropologically, felt like a potential first step towards getting past all the ridiculous bickering that goes on around this topic. I say that it’s time to move on.
  9. I need to spend more time (and money?) polishing my craft. Some of this is just working to improve the quality of my writing, some of it is spending a little cash to get the equipment and software necessary for improved quality in video production, and some of it is just improving the aesthetics of my site.
  10. Collaboration is king. I had two different experiences that reinforced this idea. The first was talking with social media superstar Rick Bakas from St. Supery. Rick seemed really fired up about the idea that the blogging community needs to be more collaborative, and work together more. I had already been trying to do this on my site, but Rick really inspired me to push harder on collaboration.

    The second experience that I had was working with Joe Herrig and Drew Lazorchak on the Top Gun Blogging panel (did anyone get video of this panel?). Drew, Joe and I have been working with each other for the last month or so to get this panel together, and it was a lot of fun to see the ideas develop and evolve. I feel like this collaboration really challenged me to think about our topic, and I feel like my blogging will improve based on the things I learned from both of these guys.

To wrap everything up, I just wanted to say what a great experience this conference was. I feel confident that I made some friendships (some of which I already considered friends before we met), that will last for years to come. I am already missing my blogging buddies, and have started looking forward to WBC11 in Virginia, where I hope to meet some of my East Coast friends who weren’t able to make it for this year’s conference.