Summary of the Wine Bloggers Conference 2012: Part II

This post is two of a two-part series that briefly summarizes my experiences at the Wine Bloggers Conference in a light-hearted manner.  These posts will be followed later by a more academic/scientific analysis of specific events of the conference, as well as my plans for expanding The Academic Wino blog.

 I realize I promised Part II the day after I posted Part I, but alas, all this traveling has made me slightly ill and I did not have the energy to complete the post in time!  My sincere apologies!  I’m still feeling a bit under the weather, but hopefully I’m well enough to make this post somewhat coherent!   Click here to read Part I of this summary series.

Tasting wine with Luke from Wine Country BC
(photo courtesy Jeff from Conscious Wine)

As you may or may not recall, Friday night, “The Night of Many Bottles”, was not attended by yours truly, as my body had pretty much completely shut down after the sleep deprivation from my travels and only slightly due to the copious amounts of wine consumed throughout the entire day.  Granted, I spit nearly all of the wine I was offered, save for the wine served at dinner, however, alcohol is still absorbed through the pores in the tongue thus likely contributing to my fatigue at the end of the evening!  Anyhow, sleep found me and I was very quickly taken away to “la la land” for some much needed rest.

Waking up Saturday morning, I had surprisingly had enough energy to venture out on a quick run along the river.  I enjoyed seeing all of the runners, walkers, and cyclists out for their morning routines, and caught a quick glimpse of what life could be like in the great city of Portland.  I only wish I had more time to experience the pleasures this city had to offer!

Feeling refreshed after my run, I launched back in to conference mode.  I was really excited about Saturday’s agenda, as this was the day my inner nerd would shine!  Before lunch, I attended two breakout sessions: 1) “Are We Wine Writers or Wine Bloggers?”; and 2) “Research on Wine Bloggers”.  The first session elicited much debate over whether or not we can call ourselves writers, or if we’re only bloggers, the conclusion of which was left relatively uncertain.  Is “wine blogger” to “wine writer” as “bartender” is to “sommelier”? Should there be more strict rules in regards to who can call themselves a wine blogger/writer?  How does one shift from being a wine blogger to a wine writer, or are these terms one and the same?  There were many answers and many opinions, and the debate will surely rage on for the foreseeable future.

The second breakout session, “Research on Wine Bloggers” was a very fascinating look at an ongoing research study investigating the motivations of blog creators as well as the perceptions and motivations of blog readers.  The researchers contacted hundreds of bloggers and blog readers and asked them to fill out a survey was many questions aimed at answering the aforementioned questions (I was one of the bloggers that participated!).  The preliminary results of this study have found a few important factors that most influence wine bloggers: including helping others, community building, self-promotion, and career-building. 

The study also aimed to address the importance of blog characteristics for readers, as well as what influences reader satisfaction.  This study is still actively recruiting blog readers to complete the survey, as the sample size is not yet large enough to perform statistical analysis on the results. 

ATTENTION BLOG READERS!!  If you are interested in participating in this research and contributing in the name of science, please spare about 15 minutes of your time and complete the survey at the following address:  .  Please help in the name of all things science!

Food trucks in Portland

After lunch, which was spent with some of the lovely ladies from Women Wine Writers at some of the famous food trucks of Portland, I really got my nerd on by attending and thoroughly enjoying the breakout sessions entitled: “Neurology of Wine Tasting”.  A more detailed post regarding this session will come later, for certain, though I’ll start now by saying I was blown away with the information that was presented at that session.  Our brains are incredible organs, and the connections create extremely fascinating mechanisms for learning and retaining certain information.  Specifically, we learned that certain visual pathways are tightly connected to wine tasting, and that even the position of your eyes during the tasting makes a huge difference in how you perceive the aromas and flavors of the wine to be.  I’ll leave you with that little teaser, and present a more detailed analysis of this topic in a later post.

The final breakout session I attended was the “Monetization” session.  More self-serving and much less nerdy, I was curious to see how others were monetizing their blog, and how I could even grow my blog regardless of if I made any money off it.  The idea of creating a book was discussed in great detail during this session, and is an idea that I am strongly considering for The Academic Wino.  Perhaps a book highlighting the state of research related to wine, splitting up the chapters into different areas of research.  This idea is currently in the brainstorming stage, thus will be quite some time before a book coalesces, but alas, stay tuned!

Tasting a 1964 Faustino
(photo courtesy Palm Bay International)


The other point that stuck with me the most during this session was the point about promoting yourself and not simply your blog.  When I first started The Academic Wino, I thought I would remain relatively anonymous as a person.  However, after attending this session and after meeting with and talking to many other bloggers, it appears as though it is very common to tie the blog with the person relatively tightly.  My first step to start promoting myself as The Academic Wino, instead of being The Academic Wino without an image, was to use my own photograph as the avatar on my Twitter account, instead of simply using my logo.  I’m sure it’ll be difficult at times to promote myself more than or as much as The Academic Wino, as some of you might know already I tend to be relatively modest and undersell my own personal successes and talents.  This is definitely something that I’ll continue to work on as I grow the blog.

Rex Pickett signing autographs!


After the breakout sessions, we listened to an amazingly entertaining keynote speech by Rex Pickett, author of the novel “Sideways” and the new novel “Vertical”.  In a question-and-answer session, moderated by Alana Gentry from Girl with A Glass, Rex Pickett proved to be an amazing entertainer and a person I surely will never forget!

The evening wrapped up with another Live Blogging session (this time with reds), the Wine Bloggers Awards (congratulations to all the winners!), and finally an amazing 5 course dinner with wine pairing by King Estate Winery.  They truly know how to serve and entertain, and I thank them a thousand times over for being there and serving dinner to 350 wine bloggers!  After dinner, I surprisingly had enough energy to attend a few after parties, where I sampled amazing wines from all over the world, most notably the 1964 Faustino which was brought to us by Palm Bay International Fine Wines and Spirits. 

Attending the Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland, Oregon was truly an amazing experience, and I am eternally grateful to all of the donors who contributed to the Wine Bloggers Conference Scholarship this year.  Without your generous donations, I would not have been able to attend this life-changing event, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Thus ends the “brief” summary of my experience at the Wine Bloggers Conference 2012 in Portland Oregon.  Stay tuned for selected detailed posts surrounding specific talks at the conference in the coming weeks!

Don’t forget to “like” The Academic Wino on Facebook (click here) and follow The Academic Wino on Twitter (click here)!


9 comments for “Summary of the Wine Bloggers Conference 2012: Part II

  1. Tom
    August 24, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    I thought the neuro session was the best thing at the conference by far. We could have used a half-day just on that, there was so much information. Otherwise, while there were some things to think about, I was less impressed with the rest of the content. It was an improvement over last year, but not a lot to sink your teeth into. I hope that for next year Zephyr hires someone just to work content and not leave it to a volunteer committee and at the discretion of the moderators.

  2. August 24, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    I agree–the neuro session was completely awesome! There was so much information on the subject that couldn't even begin to be touched on during that relatively short session. To be honest, I would have loved an entire conference full of this scientific nerdy stuff, since that's the kind of stuff I'm all about 🙂

    I'm planning on writing a detailed post on the subject in the new few weeks, so be sure to stay tuned!

    I'll keep my fingers crossed for next year!

  3. WineKnurd
    August 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Can't wait for that neuro session post Becca. As a scientist too, I love the "knurd" stuff as well. I have never seen a conclusive sensory experiment where they perform it fully double blind and yield any objective conclusions. It seems that many of these experiments suffer from a version of the "placebo effect", where you are told what to experience and so therefore you experience it. Will be interesting to see the design of the "eye angle" experiment and how they tested data and formulated conclusions. Hopefully they didn't design the experiment in order to get the conclusion they wanted.

  4. August 25, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Don't get too excited, "Knurd"….it wasn't a controlled experiment…..

    It is more of a preliminary study examining the neurologies of a hand full of wine experts. The results are still pretty interesting, nonetheless, and will hopefully lead to the full-blown study that you (and I) are looking for!

  5. WineKnurd
    August 25, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Great, post coming on Monday right? 🙂

  6. August 25, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Either Monday or Tuesday! Depends on how I feel (I've been under the weather lately)!

  7. WineKnurd
    August 25, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Oh no, and I bet a transcontinental flight did nothing to help with that. Hope you get better soon!

  8. August 25, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    That's exactly the reason….damn dirty recirculated plane air!

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