May 282013
 
Kelowna Vineyards

Photo Credit: Kelowna.com

Well, as a matter of fact, Penticton is in Canada. More specifically, it basks on the shores of Okanagan Lake in the Okanagan Valley, which is in the province of British Columbia about 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of Vancouver. Okay, well, that’s all clear now. I’ll be there next week attending the Wine Bloggers Conference and exploring the wines of BC.

Indeed, they make wine in Canada. For the most part, the country is too far north and too cold to grow wine grapes. There are, however, pockets such as Okanagan Valley where special climatic conditions make it possible for viticulture. While there are over 60 different varieties grown there, the best wines tend to be made from grapes that thrive in cooler conditions. Notably, this includes Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc.

My exposure to the wines of Canada are limited. I’ve read for years that the wines from this region are impressive and have a lot of potential, but haven’t had much opportunity to try them for myself. I have a particular fondness for good dessert wines, and have had several notable Ice Wines from both Ontario and BC. I’ve tried a few Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs as well, but not to any great extent. That’s about it.

I am, therefore, looking forward to the opportunity of exploring the region, learning its history, and tasting its wines.

May 232013
 

WBC13The 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference will take place June 6-8 in Penticton, British Columbia. In it’s 6th year, the conference has become a gathering of veterans and newbies alike, who seek the company of like-minded writers and to discover new regions to explore.

This will be the fifth of these conferences I will attend and I am looking forward to it. It’s the first year that it will take place outside of the United States, so registrations are understandably down. The conference organizers promise, however, that it will be equal if not better than previous iterations. I’m going to hold them to that.

The conference has changed quite a bit since it’s inception. It started out small, with only 100 or so of us discovering this new realm of wine blogging. It was the first time that many of us took Twitter seriously, and Facebook wasn’t even on the radar as a legitimate social site (some may argue it still isn’t). Since then, the blush is off the rose for some, but others have thrived and made a name for themselves.

The question must be asked: is blogging still relevant? There are some who claim that blogging is dead. And to a certain extent, I won’t disagree with some of their arguments. But, I prefer to think of blogging as having evolved, rather than died. People are still blogging and creating great content. The evolution has come in the form of how these writers now interact with their readers. Once upon a time, a blog’s success could be measured by how many and the quality of the comments they incurred on certain posts. Some blogs still receive comments, but most don’t garner as much as they once did. Instead, readers are now interacting more on social sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. So, in a way, blogging has grown beyond the blog itself, in essence decentralizing the conversation.

I think that this is shown most markedly in the change in the types of breakout sessions we see at blogging conferences now. It’s no longer about HOW to blog, but rather how to blog well. Creating compelling content, differentiating your blog from others, and using tools like Google+ to engage readers are all sessions we can expect at this year’s Wine Bloggers Conference. I myself will be participating on a panel about creating compelling content.

So, is blogging dead? Over 200 attendees to WBC 2013 would say: no. As do I. Blogs are still relevant. We just need to make sure that people actually want to read them.

Oh yea, and we’ll be drinking a whole lot of great wine too…