There are a lot of conversations going on on the internet, a lot of communities coming together through blogs and Web 2.0 sites, a lot of people talking and learning about subjects of common interests through social media. But in the end, there is nothing yet that can truly replace face to face meetings and live conversation.
This is why, in August and October, there will be not one but two Wine Blogger Conferences that will allow wine bloggers from around Europe and the Americas to come together and discuss issues that matter to them and to the wine world. Oh yeah. And to taste wines and have great meals together – something that still can’t really be done over the Internet.
The first one, held in Logroño, Spain, in late August, is the European Wine Blogger Conference. It is open to bloggers from all over the world, the “European” in the title referring to the place where it is being held. Roundtables, conferences and panels on themes like the dilemmas linked to advertising on blogs, ways to better engage readers, and how to use (or not use) rating systems will be held, along with tastings and vineyard visits. The folks behind Catavino and The Wine Conversation, two well-established blogs, are organizing this first get-together.
The second one, the Wine Bloggers Conference 08, announced officially last week, will be held on October 24-26 at the Flamingo Resort in the Sonoma area. Keynote speakers Gary Vaynerchuk and Alice Feiring are confirmed, live blogging sessions (with everyone together in front of their laptop, I gather), vineyard walks and thematic sessions, as well as a blind tasting challenge are on the program.
The Open Wine Consortium, an online community of wine-loving people from all walks of the wine world that now numbers more than 1000 members, has been central in making the Sonoma project come true and is actively supporting the European conference as well. Clear signs that the online wine community is gathering steam.
The two conferences are, in fact, proof that wine blogging has reached a certain critical mass, and enough weight, at least, to interest significant sponsorship to the events. The way the discussions develop and what they will tell about the wine blogging community remains to be seen. It will be important, however, that the conferences are not limited to more inward-looking concerns for bloggers, but also interested in outward-looking, open discussions about the wine world in general, and what role wine bloggers can play in that world, parkerized or not.
I’m hoping to attend one of the meetings – and for various reasons, the Sonoma WBC seems more likely to be my destination this fall.
I’m certainly hoping the two conferences will be the first of many to come, and I’m certainly ready to contribute so that these meetings can evolve and grow with the wine blogging world. I’m even ready to take part in organizing an East Coast WBC – how about in May 2009? – something that several participants in the Open Wine Consortium have been rooting for. Maybe we’ll form a committe at the West Coast conference, when we’re all together in one place…
In the meantime, congratulations to the bloggers that have been determined (and crazy) enough to make the projects come to life. I hope both events will be a great success.