Wine Bloggers Conference - Photos, stories, videos

Day two of the Wine Bloggers Conference was all about immersion into the surrounding Napa Valley and tasting a broad selection of wines… often paired with delicious cheeses and meals.

The day kicked off at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) with an entertaining welcome address by Charles E. Henning, managing director of the CIA at Greystone on the goals of the CIA and its relevance to wine writers.

Sprinkled amongst the presentation on the initiatives and growth of the CIA, was interesting factoids such as, “Did you know the Culinary Institute of America started to use the acronym ‘CIA’ about 60 months prior to the other well-known institution that also uses this acronym?”

Charles was thoroughly “charming” and two other women who sat on my right thoroughly agreed with the use of this adjective to describe him.

The welcome address was followed by two exceptional keynotes from Barry Schuler, Former CEO of AOL on “New Technologies and How They Apply to the Business of Wine”, and Jim Gordon, Executive Director of the Symposium of Professional Wine Writers and Current Editor of Wines & Vines, on “The Future of Wine Writing and Industry Trends to be Aware Of”.

I was impressed with the educational and entertainment factor of both presentations.

Barry’s provided a broad context on the history of the internet, online business models and the wine business. He managed to tie all of these themes into one cohesive bundle that provided insight into the future trends and opportunities at the intersection of the internet and wine.

Having experienced four major economic downturns, Barry noted that in each of these, big opportunities are created. He also contended that what is significant about web 2.0 is the disruption to online business models, not social media which really has been around since telephones and email.

Jim’s presentation focused on the current issues facing the wine industry including the impact of the wild fires potentially resulting in an ’08 vintage with “smoke taint” (and some of the techniques wineries are using such as reverse osmosis to minimize impact). He also highlighted other issues that are top of mind which wine writers need to consider in their content selection.

After the keynotes, we all broke out into various limo buses and headed out for winery tours and tastings. I was on bus #2 which left for Stag’s Leap Wine Cellar for a serene lunch beside a pond. Did I mention the weather was perfect?

I then toured Palmaz Vineyards.

This was followed by an engaging panel discussion entitled, “Following in the family foot stomps” which looked at the challenges and rewards of generational transitions in family-owned wineries. During the discussion we tasted a flight of three wines from Madonna Estates, Viader Vineyards and Palmaz Vineyards paired with delicious cheeses and other amuse bouche.

Did you know that in Napa Valley, 95% of wineries are family-owned? This percentage is a lot higher than I originally fathomed.

We all met back up again at Quintessa Winery for a Grand Tasting of Napa Valley wines. It was a fabulous event with many well-known wineries represented. We were able to capture the excitement with the inaugural “StarkSilverCreek Red Wine Carpet Event” interviews. Stay tuned as we will be releasing this reel on StarkSilverCreek in the next couple of days.

Finally, I enjoyed a heavenly dinner at Étoile restaurant which is on the estate of Domaine Chandon. The dinner included a flight of eight wines selected from Domaine Chandon, Louis M. Martini, O’Brien Estate and Parry Cellars.

When I arrived back at the Flamingo, ViniPortugal had set up a tasting event to expose all of us to the selection of wines from Portugal.

It was an incredible day of immersion into all things wine and Napa. I was once again stunned at the richness of this area and the opportunities I had to revel in it being so close to my main stomping grounds of San Jose, California.

It was a day of hard work, but someone had to take one for the team!

More stories, photos, and videos on each of these adventures will be posted on StarkSilverCreek in the next couple of weeks. Did you expect anything less from us?

Stay tuned and for the latest updates, follow me on Twitter @lonikaostark.

Loni Stark
Loni Stark is an artist at Atelier Stark, self-professed foodie, and adventure travel seeker who has a lifelong passion for technology’s impact on business and creativity. She collaborates with Clinton Stark on video projects for Atelier Stark Films. It’s been said her laugh can be heard from San Jose all the way up to the Golden Gate Bridge. She makes no claims to super powers, although sushi is definitely her Kryptonite.