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European Wine Bloggers Conference review

EWBC Petrol Art

EWBC Petrol Art

It is too early to really be able to take it all in, but I am back from Lisbon and the European Wine Bloggers Conference (EWBC) 2009.

The conference this year was about 3 times the size of last year’s event, with around 120 bloggers and a great number of producers and other wine businesses there to support the event and promote their wines. That is a big change in a year, and makes me wonder about next year.

I have so many things in my head that writing one post seemed incredibly hard, so I thought I’d kick it off with a brief summary and a few notes of thanks to get the flow going, then over time I can post my thoughts on the sessions, the people, the location, the sponsors, the food, the practicalities of running a large conference and more. Wow, so many things to think about.

European Wine Bloggers ConferenceFirst, I need to restate my thanks to Ryan and Gabriella Opaz of Catavino. Although all three of us are listed as ‘organisers’ the load of all parts of the conference was not exactly evenly distributed and Gabriella in particular really does deserve an extra reward for making things happen as well as they did – just don’t hand her an open bottle of wine! (photo by eatlikeagirl)

Secondly, as with all conferences of this type, we struggled to keep everyone online so they could email, tweet, blog and generally record their impressions. The hotel network did not, unfortunately, seem up to the task as promised, but the boys from Adegga who are already experts in their own areas (check out their brilliant wine social site) also became our de-facto IT support setting up, monitoring and moving the network for 120 people. Thanks Andre, Andre and Emidio!

I must also mention all those who were at their second EWBC event. They too took on informal roles to support the team, welcoming new friends and encouraging the discussion, and I still think we managed to keep the tone very friendly despite growing the event so considerably. This is down entirely to the community-mindedness of all those involved. Thanks everyone!

So, briefly, what did I learn?

  • I really enjoyed Portuguese wine and must buy more of it to learn the key regional differences
  • Portuguese food is amazing and deserves a more relaxed enjoyment of it than I was able to devote
  • The people of Portugal are very warm and generous. We were always well treated despite being so unusual and being so poor at speaking their language
  • That cork is making great efforts and inroads, via people like Amorim, to gain our trust in it again as the best closure for quality wine (more on this very soon)
  • That bloggers themselves are still a strong community with an inclination to help others and share, so we need to build on this while we can
  • That differences between bloggers on certain issues that might seem important, such as monetisation, are vastly outweighed by what we have in common and we need more opportunities to meet face to face to remember this
  • That one of the main barriers to more international cooperation is language differences, something that can be easily, if expensively, overcome, and that otherwise we would benefit a great deal from working together. So, how do we fix this? Certainly not by sticking to our local cliques
  • That we still have not yet truly captured the essence of what the consumer is looking for regarding wine in social media, but we are getting closer
  • That I have a weakness for 70′s & 80′s dancefloor classics and revivals

All of these deserve a post of their own, so hopefully I’ll be able to raise some of these issues in more detail soon

In summary, if you like writing about wine and you didn’t make it to Lisbon this year, pay close attention to this site and to the event site to grab a place for next year!

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How to find your new favourite wine blog

A short update to let you in on an exciting development.

There are quite a lot of Wine Blogs out there – by some estimate there are around 1,000, and very few of them have much profile (i.e. traffic) yet. A few (mainly American) sites have gathered a reputation beyond a small circle of followers, such as Vinography, Fermentation, Dr. Vino and Good Wine Under $20, and a few Europeans are also regularly quoted, such as Catavino and Wine Anorak. These are the sites that get mentioned most often in articles about wine blogging online and in print, but they may not represent the kind of wine blog YOU want to read.

How do you find a blog about the wines of India, or a Wine Marketing blog in French?

Last year, Guy Kawasaki launched the popular Alltop into the wine arena with wine.alltop.com (where you will find this site listed, of course) but by its very nature, the site is still limited.

Now, Catavino Marketing has taken this to the next level (with just a little input from friends) by relaunching a great wine blog resource at http://wineblogger.info

The site has existed for around a year, listing the growing number of wine blogs around the world, but with quite a lot of effort, and some nifty programming, Ryan and Gabriella have now categorised these blogs into languages and even some topic categories so you can find the kind of blogs that are most interesting to you. What is great is that you do not even need to visit each one, but you can see the latest 5 posts from each one and even a preview of the post itself.

Of course, the technology and design may not be radical but it IS important because it is a major resource for the wine blogging world, and the kind of thing that no commercial organisation was going to get around to build for us as it is unlikely to make money. We ought to be doubly grateful for the skills and dedication to the wine blogging cause of Catavino Marketing & friends.

I’m certain we will see this site grow as a resource for wine bloggers and those who like to read them over the next few months, so do keep an eye on it, and if you find something new and interesting because of this, do let me know.

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Thoughts on a European community

Gabriella asked me an interesting question regarding the European Wine Bloggers’ Conference yesterday. We have focused a lot on getting bloggers excited about the opportunity of the conference, but what do our READERS think about it? Why should THEY care?

Admittedly we have not clarified that point very much, although it has always been part of our thinking.

Ryan and Gabriella were kind enough to post my response on their site, which you probably already read, but just in case, check it out here:

Why Should Readers Care About the European Wine Blogger Conference?

“In my view, the most important goal of the European Wine Bloggers’ Conference is to start a conversation between the European voices at this party. Readers in Europe, and indeed the rest of the world, want to hear a familiar perspective on wine and one that is relevant to them.”

Blogger Profiles

In between posts on this site and my new Rioja blog at thirstforrioja.co.uk, I am also working hard with Ryan and Gabriella behind the scenes for the European Wine Bloggers’ Conference.

One of the great things we have managed to do already is get all sorts of different bloggers, 80% of which you have probably never heard about despite them having around 100,000 monthly unique readers between them, to write a short biography on the site.

If you read nothing else, check out some of the biographies here and get to know a little more about the kinds of people that create wine blogs.

There are plenty more to come between now and the event, and hopefully we will have everyone covered before the big day so we all have a chance to recognise each other at the event.

You can read the latest post here, which happens to be about me (including a nice photo taken by my wife yesterday of yours truly having ignored the razor – again).

Blogging on the road

Apologies for the silence but I am on the road at the moment, enjoying an unseasonably warm Rioja at the moment.

Just met with the Catavino crew, Gabriella and Ryan Opaz, and we still have lots to discuss about the impending European Wine Bloggers’ Conference. We also talked about so many other issues that make me want to sit down and get on with exploring my thoughts here. Oh well! Soon enough!

In the interim, you can also find me dropping in on some discussions on wine & technology issues on the Open Wine Consortium, a new social network for those involved in the Wine 2.0 developments. More on this soon (but you can read about it elsewhere too)

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