I've just returned from four days in Walla Walla, Washington, for the third annual Wine Bloggers Conference. This was my second conference, with the last one being held in Napa and Sonoma and I was thrilled when I heard the 2010 conference would be held in the Northwest, my home. I learned a vast amount of information and (more importantly) met some incredible and inspiring people. With three full days of events (plus three informal days in Oregon leading up to the conference) there is no way to re-cap the entire event without writing a book, so instead I have decided to highlight some of my most memorable moments in a few short blog posts, and then let the inspiration received guide my future posts here on this blog.
What resonates the most as I leave the conference was the theme many of the speakers shared on authenticity, passion, and speaking from your true voice.
Engaging Speakers: I was inspired by many of the panel discussions and speakers at this year's conference including the elegant and well spoken Meg Houston Maker, who introduced twenty-four theses to improve your writing. Number 18, “Be ruthlessly authentic about your own experience,” struck me the most. Steve Heimoff who discussed the riff between many wine writers and wine bloggers and his discussion of the importance of transparency in blogging. “Write something that is really you,” he stressed. “Find your voice. Know who you are. Then stretch it even further.” Hardy Wallace, whose passion about wine and blogging is simply infectious. And finally, Lettie Teague who also spoke about finding your authentic voice as a writer. It was because of her words and Meg’s list, that motivated me to share what I am about to share.
Be Authentic: Of the biggest takeaways from these speakers was to be authentic and true to myself. Something I have always tried to show in my writing. But I would be lying to you if I weren’t true to myself in sharing two important pieces of information with this blog that have occurred over the last few months. Two things that have kept me from writing much over the last couple months because I didn’t want to hide it. So instead of writing honestly, I just didn’t write at all.
#1 I am leaving my comfortable life in the Northwest and moving just outside of Hartford, Connecticut. A place, up until two weeks ago, I had never visited in my entire life. It was a difficult decision to make, and it will certainly change the direction of some of the things I focus on and write about. I plan to move my company, Vindulge, and continue the work I do in Connecticut while keeping in touch with the great Northwest wine community. I am excited to bring my knowledge and experience of Northwest wines to the east coast while immersing myself in the wine and culinary world that thrives there. I am both frightened and yet excited about this move and promise to share my experiences as I wrap up my time in the Northwest and begin a new one in the Northeast.
#2 (and certainly the most important of the two) I am expecting! This has obviously changed the way I spend my evenings (drinking water vs. wine, and spitting instead of savoring). It doesn’t mean I can’t review wines anymore, write about wine, or do any of the things I am used to doing. It just means I may start to do them in a different way. In fact, it may end up improving my sensory skills in ways I never would have imagined. I have begun to refocus on the art spitting wine, which reinforces the important point, “spitting forces you to pay closer attention”, as taught to me by Tim Gaiser, Master Sommelier, and instructor of my first sommelier course. It’s true. By paying closer attention, I will be much better at what I do.
I share this information with you so that I don’t have to keep putting off writing on my blog anymore. I believe in transparency, authenticity, and importantly, passion, and if I wasn’t compelled to share this information with you I would be both lying to you and lying to myself, and thus my writing would not be authentic nor truly passionate. So I am putting this out there to you, my readers, so you can better understand the direction I will be taking for the remainder of 2010.
So I thank the speakers from the Wine Bloggers Conference for motivating me to share this information here, on this blog, so that I don’t lose something that is indeed important to me; honesty and authenticity in my writing.
Stay tuned for more highlights from the Wine Bloggers Conference including late night dance parties, incredible vineyard visits, and the most memorable wines I tasted.