We returned from WBC18 with so much content on Washington Wines and beyond! Tons of great photos and footage and stories from amazing people and wineries. We will break it all down and give you the in-depth stories, but the week was so exciting I wanted to give you the sweeping overview (Complete with lots of photos!) of the stories you will see coming soon!
Michael drove to Portland, you can catch a little of his trip on #WBC18 Crushed Grape Chronicles Travel Log(Day 1) and #WBC18 Crushed Grape Chronicles Travel Log Day 2 We will pick up here where he left off.
So I did make it to the airport in Portland! While Michael got a couple extra hours of sleep due to our cancelled and re-booked flight, I sadly did not. Whatever, it’s vacation right? Sleep is overrated. We got on our tiny little flight to PASCO the Tri Cities airport that sits between Yakima and Walla Walla and were seated at the back of the plane. We noticed the plane was pretty empty and inquired about re-seating. The flight attendant informed us that we were seated to provide ballast. LOL!
The flight, new friends and Wine!
As it turned out, there were other WBC attendees on the flight, so we made friends! Jennifer of Beyond the Corkscrew sat with us and we enjoyed complimentary wine from Horizon Air from Sagelands Winery. They are part of the Precept Wine Portfolio and say Sagelands “embodies Washington State’s wine making legacy by sourcing the finest grapes from the four corners of the Columbia Valley and handcrafting them into wines of outstanding quality and value”. From what I can gather on their site, they are a larger winery sourcing grapes, but….I appreciated the bits on their winemaker and the vineyards they source from and their soils. Feel free to use the link and check them out. Michael had the Cabernet, I had the Chardonnay and we toasted with Jennifer to a fine start to what would be a full weekend of wine!
Wine Yakima Valley
We spent a little bit of time at the airport, before our host from Wine Yakima Valley arrived to pick us up. There was also a Red Mountain Tour leaving from the airport. I will have a piece or two (or three) on this pre-conference tour. Barbara with Wine Yakima Valley did a phenomenal job setting this all up. So you get the overview! They had snacks for the drive…
…it included some local products, a bit of a tussle to get them out of the plastic wrap but…and then we were off for the hour ten minute drive to Owen Roe Winery for Flavor Camp. Patrick our driver regaled us with stories and details of the area along the way.
Owen Roe Winery
We arrived early at Owen Roe and were greeted with wine, I managed to get a winery tour with Owner David O’Reilly and then Flavor Camp! Yeah, you’ll have to wait to hear about that. The evening ended with Dinner with a spectacular view and many Yakima Valley wines, with Winemakers pouring.
Elephant Mountain Vineyard
The next morning we were up for breakfast and a fly-over seminar, with Co Dinn of Co Dinn Cellars and Kerry Shiels of Côte Bonneville to give us the layout of the Yakima Valley so we could connect with the landmarks we were passing as we headed to Elephant Mountain Vineyard. We met Joe Hattrup, who owns the vineyard., tasted some of the varieties fresh from harvest and then tasted an assortment of wines made from the grapes sourced from this vineyard. Of course they kept us fed, today with a great Mexican food truck to enjoy with the wine and the astounding views.
Walla Walla pre-conference wine education
We came in hot to Walla Walla, dashing from the van right into our first session which was with Dr. Loosen USA on riesling. We had a moment to check in and then off to our second session on the Wines of Uruguay (which was really fascinating and delicious).
Our dinner that night was at Cadaretta’s glass house. This trip actually took us across the border into Oregon, as the Walla Walla AVA is a cross border AVA. The views were amazing, dinner and the wines were delicious and Kris Middleton of Cadaretta was kind enough to take some time to speak with us. (Yeah…more on that later)
And the conference begins!
The conference…well it’s really fast paced. The Conference Opening ran right into the Introduction to the Walla Walla Valley (and more stories to come from the 4 women winemakers from name the winemakers with links to wineries who introduced us to the region), then a session on Wine Bloggers vs Wine Influencers which took us into lunch sponsored by Cascade Valley Wine Country
Michael and I then split, Michael did a wine discovery session with Rias Baixas and I did one with Consorzio Tutela Lugana DOC. We met up again for the Keynote speaker and then went right into Live Red Wine Blogging. What is Live Red Wine Blogging you ask? It’s like speed dating for wine tasting and it’s chaos. You will get the rundown on that later or feel free to jump onto twitter and check out my notes that I did as we went along, the red tasting starts here.
This is by far my favorite part of the conference, you get a colored tag at the top of the conference that is matched up to a group. You all get in vans, buses, cars, limos….and they drive you somewhere. You don’t know where you are going until you arrive. We arrived at Doubleback Winery and were treated to an amazing dinner by Andrae’s Kitchen with wines from Doubleback Winery and Sleight of Hand Cellars. The winemakers joined us and spoke (we sat with Trey Busch winemaker for Sleight of Hand). The atmosphere, food, wine and company were wonderful.
The conference is full of post evening parties, some sponsored by wineries, some just gatherings. I attended one with Fullerton Wines (thanks Matt) and then another wine filled spectacle by the Drunken Cyclist where everyone brought a bottle to share.
Conference Day 2
The second day of the conference kicked off with the announcement of next years conference which will be held in New South Wales Australia! Followed by breakout session on writing, media, video etc…
Lunch in Walla Walla
Lunch this day was sponsored by Visit Walla Walla and you signed up for lunch in a downtown tasting room. We visited Gard Vintners where we sampled wines, enjoyed a box lunch as well as grapes from the vineyard and apples from the property.
Bubbles or Bodegas
Michael and I split up again, he attended a session with Bodegas LAN of Rioja and I did a tasting a pairing session with Sarah Tracey of The Lush Life, who I had an opportunity to chat with as I sat next to her the previous evening at dinner. She set up a pairing seminar with Gloria Ferrer sparkling wines. Informative, beautiful and delicious, this was a great way to spend an afternoon.
When you think of wine, you can’t help but also think of cheese! Cheeses of Europe gets this and sponsored a session of cheese pairings hosted by the Cheese Twins Michael and Charlie Kalish (you might know them from Chopped or The Great Foodtruck Race. Entertained and full of cheese we had a break before Lightning Talks and the Live White and Rosé tasting.
The evening ended with the final dinner, where we met two winemakers Chris Loeliger of Truth Teller Winery and Tim Armstrong of Armstrong Family Winery . And yes, we look forward to followup conversations with both of these gentlemen and bringing you the stories of their wineries.
We had also set up for a post conference excursion through the Columbia Gorge. (This is where Michael parking at the Portland Airport comes in). We traveled to the Columbia Gorge, stopping on the Eastern end at Maryhill Winery where Cassie and Amie had us all set up for a tour, tasting and lunch. The views here are tremendous and we were really spoiled with the in-depth tour. We will have plenty of video to share with you on this behind the scenes look.
After Maryhill were driven west and south to the Oregon side of this AVA for a tasting, tour and dinner at Cathedral Ridge Winery. This place has spectacular views of Mt. Hood. We met owner Rob Bell (hmm…is he any relation to me?)
Finally they drove us back to Portland. Where we picked up “Nuit” our plug-in hybrid Kia Niro and we were off to spend an evening luxuriating at the Hotel Monaco downtown.
The Adventure home
Our adventure continued! We were up early to head to Voodoo Donuts!
The Oregon Coast and Applegate Valley
Then hit the road to the Oregon Coast. It was foggy, but we could hear the ocean and explored some lovely seaside towns.
We drove the coast for a bit then headed inland to the Applegate Valley, hoping to catch some vineyard shots before sunset. While we didn’t catch much, it was quickly made up for by the fabulous YURT we had booked! Sunset View Yurt is amazing, great views, terrific people, a modern Victrola and a beautiful collection of music. We enjoyed a bottle of Johan Drueskall Pinot Gris which is an orange wine. We packed this with us especially to enjoy on this evening, giggling over our Johan in a YURT and then soaked in the hot tub under the stars (well, clouds, but it was lovely anyway!).
Our hosts Kathleen and Richard gave us tips on sites in the Redwoods and we headed southwest again to Jedediah Smith Park to visit the Stout Grove. Redwood groves are sacred sites, it’s like walking in a Cathedral. I really think they are Ents (any Tolkien fans out there?). Being among them you are forced to slow down. Their size and age put the universe into a bit better perspective. After soaking up loads of energy here, we continued to the California Coast where the sun was out! We traveled a bit of the coast, then back through the Redwood Forest and then finally to the freeway to get to Sacramento for our final evening of our trip.
Tahoe and the drive home
Our last morning had us up before dawn and heading to Lake Tahoe, soaking in the scenery and then on through the outskirts of Yosemite to Mono Lake, through park territory there and finally out into the desert and home to Las Vegas.
It was an epic trip and I can’t wait to get into all the details with you!
We did a little Primer on the area before we left, so feel free to dive into Washington Wines and beyond with #WBC18
Disclaimer: Michael and I attended the WBC (Wine Bloggers Conference) as Citizen Bloggers at a discounted rate. All opinions on the conference and related events are my own.