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Wine Blogging and Social Media

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When I first came onto the wine social media scene back in late 2008/early 2009, I knew I wanted to move my writing in the direction of this tasty niche. I immersed myself into the wine bloggers’ culture on Twitter and Facebook and spent years getting to know other people in the industry.

Simultaneously, I began writing more for non-writing publications. After a short stint with a local East Bay food magazine, I took a journalism class to continue honing my craft. I learned what my “voice” read like, and pursued other freelance opportunities.

I was also finishing my B.A. and continued learning both online and offline about social media and businesses’ uses for social media.

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I am fortunate to have been able to attend the Wine Bloggers Conference held 2012 in Portland, and felt a small momentum building. Again, during this time, I was working full time, going to school part time, and moving into a new home with a retired parent with medical issues, so my momentum was on a metaphysical level with myself only.

With that said, my writing again took a backseat to life in general until I attended the Wine Tourism Conference in November 2013. This conference was held in Portland also at the same host hotel as the Wine Bloggers Conference of 2012, so it was nice to be in familiar territory. I learned a great deal at the conference, and appreciated the professionalism of everyone.

Portland, Oregon

Shortly before the Wine Tourism Conference, I found a writing gig on craigslist.com for feature article writing for a small lifestyle magazine in the East Bay. I started cranking out some articles for the magazine and again felt a force moving me away from my current vocation towards something that allowed more creative writing.

It was only by happenstance that I saw a job listing for a freelance social media coordinator on a Facebook group in late December. I recognized the company listing the job as I’d been following the owner Janet and vice versa on Twitter since late 2008.

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What a thrill! The gig was to create content and post on social media for the country’s largest trade and consumer wine event, the Boston Wine Expo, held every year in Boston. I dived right into the gig while attempting to juggle the rest of my life in addition to the freelance article writing I’d been doing.

I created Tumblr blog posts, created and scheduled content on Facebook and Twitter and engaged with anyone and everyone who wanted to discuss the event on any social media platform. Towards the end, I also created an Instagram account for the media agency owner’s use at the actual event.

The event was held in February and by the beginning of April all social media began to wind down. It was a bittersweet moment when I emailed my final invoice. I’d been vigorously looking for other social media freelance work and had confirmed Janet would give me a good recommendation.  Nothing panned out, but Janet confirmed that I’d be able to head the social media in the fall for the Boston Wine Expo. Needless to say, I was thrilled.

Which us brings us pretty much to the present. I’m doing a small freelance job for Janet right now, summer’s here, and I’m leaving this week for Buellton and the Wine Bloggers Conference.

So, my question is this: If I’m not blogging consistently, but am doing other writing, including creating social media content for wine industry purposes, can I consider myself a wine blogger? Or am I guilty of not fulfilling an unspoken belief that I must maintain a somewhat consistent presence both on my blog and in the community?  My conviction is that writing is writing and blogging is social media. Despite the fact that I’m not keeping my personal blog current doesn’t translate to I’m not active in the blogosphere or in the social media world.

And yes, I wrote this post because I’m going to the Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Barbara County this week, and want there to be a more recent post on my blog than my last one of August 2013!

In any event, I’m caring and sharing about wine as much as my life allows and that’s all we can ask from ourselves, right?

Cheers!

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Taste Our Terroir, Livermore Valley 2013

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IMG_2438(Photos by H. Kremer)

I was grateful to attend the Livermore Valley’s kickoff event for Taste Our Terroir 2013 at the Casa Real in Pleasanton on Thursday July 18.  The event was the first of a four-day weekend showcasing the food and wine of the Livermore Valley.  For the remaining days, many wineries were hosting tours, with others offering wine-paired dinners with cooking demonstrations, and much more wine-related events.

Established in 1849, the Livermore Valley has long been a forgotten wine destination.  Within the last two decades, a groundswell has been building to remind us that the Livermore Valley has a great deal to offer.  This movement has come from a variety of different groups, including wine growers associations and the wineries themselves.  Two of the wineries, Concannon and Wente, have deep historical roots in Livermore and have made many contributions to the changing landscape and strive to continue to draw attention to the Livermore region.

Thursday’s event had about 20 wineries each stationed with a local caterer.  The pairings were exquisite, and I had the opportunity to talk with many winery representatives and caterers alike.

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A couple standout pairings were:

  • Eagle Ridge 2010 Zinfandel paired with small gnocchi (green potato dumplings) served with a lamb ragu sauce
  •  Garre Vineyard 2009 sauvignon blanc paired with smoked salmon on bruschetta with capers and goat cheese

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  •  Concannon’s Righteously Rosé with a Gulf shrimp, Coho salmon, Pacific true cod, sea scallop sausage with Olivina EVOO, chives, rosé cream sauce with chervil [a delicate fennel-like herb]

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  •  Occassio Vineyard 2010 Zinfandel paired with American Kobe beef Carpaccio lollipops

My favorite was the watermelon gazpacho with a skewer of miscellany presented by Tender Greens Catering of Walnut Creek paired with the Retzlaff Vineyards’ 2011 Isabelle Blush, a merlot rosé.

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I was fortunate to speak with one of the pairing judges, David Glancy, after the competition.  David is the founder and CEO of the San Francisco Wine School and has a culinary background, so he was well suited for judging the pairing competition.

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I asked him what standards he was looking for in the pairings.  He told me he was looking for pairings that were “right on” for the particular varietals, but he also said that the judging was not about wine or food, but that he was looking for the best pairing.

He alluded that the wine and the food together needed to equal more than their individual parts.  He and another judge mentioned, “1 + 1 = 3.”

All in all, it was a great event to attend, and I’d love to attend it again to see what different pairings the caterers and wineries concoct for the evening.

How about you, did you attend?  Which pairing did you feel was the best, and why?

Cheers!

What wine goes with Gehacktes (a traditional German dish)?

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We know the dish here in the United States as Steak Tartare.  In the Middle East, it’s known as Kibbe, and in Ethiopia a heavily spiced version of the dish is known as kitfo.  In German, the dish is known as Gehacktes if using beef, Mett if using pork.

My father has asked me to make Gehacktes for him for his birthday and Father’s Day this year.  I’ve never made it before, but I am not concerned with the preparation of the dish.  My concern is that the dish that my mother made for me growing up is uncooked beef.  Yep, raw beef.  I’ve had beef twice this calendar year as I’ve tried to change my eating habits (read: I went on a strict nearly-vegan diet).  The thought of preparing this dish is a non-issue.  The thought of eating this dish is something else.

Here’s a photo care of (c) Verena N. / pixelio.de from the http://mstarlikes.blogspot.com/2012/07/like-5-gehacktesbrotchen.html website.  This photo shows the gehacktes spread on sourdough or French break and topped with pickles and herbs.

Gehacktes

My father’s version doesn’t include the gehacktes spread onto bread, but served in a loaf.  Here’s the recipe as he remembers it:

  • One pound (or more) of ground top sirloin ground twice
  • At least 3-4 bunches of green onions sliced finely
  • 1-2 raw egg (not sure if white included or just yolk)
  • salt and pepper to taste

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Mix the meat with some of the green onions, the egg (yolk?) and salt and pepper, preferably by hand.  Form loaf on platter and cover with remaining sliced green onions.  Chill and serve with hot buttered sourdough bread.

When I thought to myself, “How am I going to eat this??”  and “I’m not letting my *son* eat this!”  I began to see something different.  First of all, I told my father that yes, I would be happy to make it but I had conditions.  “First,” I said, “all the food is going to be purchased at either Whole Foods Market or Diablo Foods — I’m not making the dish with beef from Joe’s Market.”  He happily agreed.

wi-8greatrose-608Photo courtesy of gourmet.com

Then it hit me:  What could I drink with it?  The meat will be very lean so while I know I would need a good acid wine, it didn’t have to be sauvignon blanc acid.  The onions on and throughout the dish are making me consider something with high acid and sweetness.   Grenache rosé?  I’m stumped, and wine/food pairing was not my forte before I told my dad I would take on this endeavor.

Truth be told, I’m happy to make the dish for him.  He’s about to turn 77 and probably doesn’t remember the last time he had the dish, so I want to make it as memorable as possible (for all the right and good reasons!).

So, what do you think??  What wine would pair best with gehacktes?

~H

Thank you…

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It’s said that a couple has up to one year after a wedding to send out all the ‘Thank You’ notes for wedding gifts.  It hasn’t been quite a year, but I wanted to write my thank you to the Wine Bloggers Conference Scholarship donors before the one-year mark.

In a perfect world, I would have finished writing all my posts and this thank-you post a long time ago, but we all know that we don’t live in a perfect world.

It was always in my mind to write a specific post thanking the donors for their contributions but I received an email last night from the Zephyr Adventures that made me feel it’s necessary to write this now. 

This coming November, in Portland, Oregon, Zephyr Adventures is holding the Wine Tourism Conference, which is where the 2012 Wine Bloggers Conference was held.  I’d considered attending this event after seeing Thea Dwelle’s updates and tweets during last’s years Wine Tourism Conference in Santa Rosa, but the email I received last night nearly sealed the deal.

In addition to Thea, other bloggers attended last year’s Wine Tourism Conference and felt the program was very beneficial.  See here for story.

I think what struck me the most was the statement on networking opportunities available at the Wine Tourism Conference.  I welcome the thought of finding a position outside the legal industry and would be grateful for the opportunity to build meaningful business contacts.

Coming full circle, had it not been for the donors for the Wine Bloggers Scholarship that so graciously donated funds, I would not have been able to attend last year’s Wine Bloggers Conference, nor would I have seen the importance of attending future events geared towards wine blogging development.

Cheers!

~H

 

The Tales of the Traveling Tiara (part 2)

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(this is a second installment of my experience at the Wine Bloggers Conference this past August 2012 in Portland, Oregon.  You can read my first post here.)

Thursday night was an early night to bed.  On Friday, the Wine Bloggers in Portland woke up to a clear, hot sunny day similar to the day before.

After breakfast, I went downstairs to mingle.  On Thursday, sometime during check-in, I had seen Nannette wearing a tiara.  I knew instinctively it was her birthday, and heartily wished her a happy day.  When I saw her Friday morning, I informed her that that day was my birthday, and asked if I may wear the tiara that day?

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As I set the tiara on my head, and began touring the registration and tradeshow area, the day began to look much more interesting.

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(Pardon the blurred photo, I was a new iPhone user!)

The Argentine Food & Wine pairing was for the most part done well.  Some of the pairings weren’t spot on, but most of the food was delicious, and the hosts and hostesses of the event were wonderful.  A couple performing Latin tango during the lunch added visual and aural elements to the already sensory-filled brunch.

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Things happened quickly on Friday, and Randall Grahms’ keynote began and ended in a whirl.

The whites and roses Live Wine Blogging was my first experience at rapid tasting (and spitting!), and since I only had my iPhone, I tweeted my impressions:

  • A memorable wine was the Alexana Pinot Gris from Dundee Hills.  The wine was bright, clean, lemony.  The winery is higher end and only available to a few states.
  • The Johan Chardonnay (Willamette) was aged for 18 months in French oak, and bottled unfiltered.  High acid and delicious, I noted it would pair well with certain cheeses and fruit.
  • Benton Lane came to Table 13 and served a Pinot Gris.  Benton Lane is known for it’s pinot noir.  The pinot gris would stand up well to salads, pear fruit, and salmon.
  • Merryhill Winery, a family owned and operated winery, poured a Rose of Sangiovese that had Best of Show in Sonoma County.  This rose screamed picnic as I envisioned cured meats and cheese on a red-and-white checked tablecloth on sunny Mt. Tamalpais.
  • An Argentine Recuerdo Torrontes had great acid.  I was thrilled to learn it was available in California.

In summary, I loved the sauvignon blancs, Pepi (origin?) and Decibel (NZ, Hawks Bay) that were crisp, not too cold, and acid bouncing off the tongue.

The tasting ended with a Gloria Ferrer Va De Vi which would be a stellar picnic wine in case rose´ wasn’t desired.

Within a half hour after the whites and roses live wine blogging, the buses in front of the hotel began to fill with passengers going to mysterious destinations.  I vacillated between going and not going, and finally jumped on Bus 8 where there were only two remaining seats left in the entire caravan.  I think I made the best decision.

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We sat in heavy traffic for a short time, and then got off the freeway onto a little country highway.  We traveled for about an hour, maybe a little more, when we were stopped by a police break in the road.  What was going on?

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Lo and behold, it was a planned stop by the Carlton Police.  Welcome to Carlton, Oregon!  First stop, Carlos & Julian!

(…. to be continued….)

No Longer a Wine Bloggers Conference Virgin and the Tales of the Traveling Tiara, Part I

It’s been over a month since I returned home from the Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland.  I had such an amazing weekend *alone* that when I finally returned to the Bay Area on Monday, I was unprepared for the denouement of the entire weekend.

I hadn’t had too much or even enough wine at the Conference, and I continued to drink wine in the evening for a couple days after I returned.  After that, I’d had my limit; I’d become burned out on wine!  I had to put the festivities of the weekend on a back burner including any writing because when I returned my fall family schedule was in full throttle –  my son had started first grade and club soccer, and I had a night class beginning at the end of the week.

This post will be a nice reminder of an amazing weekend I had for which I’ll forever be grateful.

When I arrived in Portland, the first thing I noticed was that it was HOT!  I’d arrived on Thursday August 16 mid day since I wanted to connect with friends before the frenzy of the Conference began.

Since I’d arrived before many of my friends, I settled in the room for a short time and decided to take the opportunity to explore downtown Portland.

I caught the MAX line outside the hotel and took the train across the river into the city, getting off a few stops before my destination.  Since I love music second to wine, I decided to try to find some local record/CDs stores for some hidden gems.

The first store I went into was strictly hip-hop, and the owner was offended I didn’t ask him first if I could take a picture of his store for my blog.  I left quickly and found another victim, which I found at Jackpot Records on SW 9th Avenue.  I was more comfortable with the music this store sold, jazz, blues, mostly vintage, and some vintage rock on LP, but held out on buying anything.

I finally stumbled and fumbled in the heat to Everyday Music (after a confusing trip through Powells’ Bookstore), and found two great finds:  A Hindu Love Gods CD (REM with Warren Zevon on vocals from the late 80′s/early 90′s) and an out-of-print Bonnie Raitt CD.

Happy but tired, I made my way to the MAX station I’d exited and found a seat amongst the commuters for the ride back to the hotel.  After a quick dinner of black bean hummus and vegetables with a couple glasses of my new favorite King Estate pinot gris with Doug Levy (http://douglevy.com/WFW/), Jeff Weissler (http://consciouswine.com/) , and Luke Whittall (http://winecountrybc.wordpress.com/), the Conference began with the Welcome Reception provided by the Oregon Wine Board.

This was a fun event, but a little intimidating for me as well.  As great as it was for me to taste many different wines that night, my focus was on meeting people I’d been virtual friends with for years.  I don’t know how the conference had handled welcoming receptions in the past, but that night should have had fewer wineries to allow more mixing and mingling among the attendees, in my opinion.

The wines that stood out for me that night were pinot gris and pinot noir (my first foray into both varietals) produced by Johan, Cooper Mountain, and Evening Land.

The next day, August 17, was a truly memorable day!
……….(TO BE CONTIUED)……..

Serendipity

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Serendipity – an aptitude for making desirable discovery by accident; good fortune.

After an extremely busy spring, I’m ready to jump into summer with both feet.  I’ve taken the summer off from my studies, my son is obviously out of school, and we’re moving into a wonderful house on a half-acre.

While I’ve been planning this move for some time now (my father is moving in with me as he’s entered his twilight years), I’ve still had my radar scanning for opportunities that are food and wine related.

I’m attending this year’s Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland after missing all prior years conference, the most recent in 2011 in Virginia.  Earlier this year, I had begun blogging more earnestly and started looking at my financial situation and budget to see where I could save money for the costs associated with the trip.  I’d also applied earlier this spring for the WBC Scholarship, and was confident I’d receive some much needed help.

On June 18, I received an email that I’d been granted funds to cover airfare, and would be reimbursed for registration, hooray!

While this doesn’t count as a serendipitous event since I’d applied for the Scholarship, it seemed like a good dose of “good fortune,” particularly since I’d already gone through the entire ordeal of qualifying for a loan and buying a home.

Today I was exchanging emails with a local writer who’d written an article I appreciated.  We were both local to the East Bay Area and exchanged a couple emails regarding area landmarks, some of which are no longer in existence.  He must have found my prior comments on articles that I am interested in food, because he then asked if I’d be interested in writing about food for his online magazine.  I responded with a hearty ‘yes’ and sent him a link to my published article with edible East Bay.  This truly would be serendipity if a simple email turned into another writing opportunity.

I’m excited for the long weekend in August in Portland for so many reasons, It will be a huge opportunity for me to learn more about wine and writing from other bloggers and guest speakers.

~H

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