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Wine Bloggers Conference: It’s more than a conference. It’s a community.

By: Leeann Froese

The Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC) is more than a workshop and a meeting place to discuss everything wine related. It is a gathering of people from all over North America who convene to celebrate each other’s passion, expertise, wine region and most importantly, friendship with one another.

WBC 2015

Hosted at a different wine region each year, the WBC lasts for nearly a week and invites bloggers, industry professionals and the host region's vintners to participate.

Sure, there's definite content: workshops and panels in board or conference rooms with a gamut of wine-centric presentations, AV materials and education, but unlike other wine trade conferences, there's so much more that happens on the periphery.

Attendees include those from visiting wineries and representatives from various wine regions that travel to the event to bring a taste of their wine country to the Wine Bloggers Conference.

Outside of conference rooms, attendees participate in field studies that include: excursions to the host region's surrounding wineries for a meet-and-greet with winery principals. As well, an exclusive sneak peek and tasting of newly or soon-to-be-release vintages. Always, the red carpet is completely unfurled and a grand time is had by all.

One of the best parts about WBC is the “after-hour tastings” hosted in various hotel suites. This is a perfect time for WBC participants to get together, be social, and taste wines that are off the program. As everyone is keen to learn about each other’s wine region and to share a taste of their own, these hotel suites become crowded quickly and force people to literally rub elbows and interact as they mingle and taste.

But no one minds because we are all united by the desire to experience and share as much we can, especially in limited time.

It's a unique community. Even if it means being sleep deprived, the group doesn’t stop stop learning, tasting and socializing for the duration they are at WBC. (And sometimes if you've had too much wine, you might find yourself facing the content of the following day with a headache...)

Happy bloggers rub elbows tasting Canadian wine. Clockwise, from back, center: Ben Heskett, Christine Campbell, Michael Pinkus, Jeff Kralik, Madeline Puckette, April Yap-Hennig, me and Robert Larson

From Portland, Penticton, Buellton and now Corning, this has been the fourth consecutive conference that I've attended WBC. As much as I appreciate and am blown away by the effort, hospitality and welcoming spirit that the host region puts into hosting this conference, the most special part about WBC is its people.

The people that assemble the program from each gracious and passionate region can be summed up as one thing: amazing.

Case in point: most recently in Finger Lakes and Corning NY, we were coordinated by Paul Thomas of Seneca Lake Wine Trail and Beth Peluse from Zephyr Adventures for the pre excursion in Seneca Lake, and Laury Ellen Poland from Finger Lakes Wine Country led the charge with Zephyr for the main conference in Corning. Each of these people successfully "herded cats" to ensure those of us that made the trip were not disappointed.

The workshop content varies each year and so do the wine regions (showing the thumbprint of where they were made), but what's common is the hard work and passion in putting the conference together.

And truthfully, to me all of that does not actually even really matter at its core, because it's what happens outside the bottle that is the most important.

The bond and socialization that wine invites is the most important part for me. I love that this conference experience is shared by like minded individuals.

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This conference offers the ability to get together with the same people annually, as we collect from different corners to learn and be united by something we all love. Year over year, social bonds strengthen and long distance friendships blossom, to be nurtured by the in-person gathering WBC invites.

Wine is inherently social, so it's no surprise that the social aspect is a major part of this conference.

I cannot wait for the annual opportunity it gives me to connect with my friends from San Francisco, Portland, New York, and all points in between. Real in person bonds are strengthened and then we stay in touch socially throughout the year before we reconvene at the next year's conference.

After shyly navigating my way through the first conference that I attended in Portland, where I didn't really know what to do or who to talk to, after four conferences I now feel like I have some legitimate, real, strong, and lifelong friendships, and that these people will be with me, and I'm part of a community. And I am very thankful for this. My life is that much richer for it so thank you for that, WBC.

And while I want to express how great it feels to annually see those who are very strongly growing into 'my people’,  it's also worthy to note that there are many new friends joining this amazing community each year.

If you see a face that's not familiar, be sure to go and say hello to them. They might be a seasoned blogger or they might be someone who is encountering the conference for the first time. A friendly face and someone who can help with the lay of the land is appreciated.

And as I settle back into being back at home, I reflect on the notes of others:

Meg Houston Maker noted there is no substitution for in person smiles, and Christine Campbell of Girls Go Grape says, "I love that wine, learning and friendship are all part of the Wine Bloggers Conference."

I could not agree more.

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And I am not alone. April Yapp Hennig of Sacred Drop took the picture above and called us her crew, and just today Christine Campbell posted this tweet:

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Yes - activate friendship indeed! Until 2016, the #WBC friendships continue to blossom online.

I feel so blessed to have this conference as an annual opportunity to taste and learn, and also continue to build those friendships and the community that is WBC.

Sujinder and I thank you #FLX #WBC15

See you in Lodi #WBC16 #GoWBCCanada #withTownHall!

Meet Kayla Koroush With Town Hall

By Leeann Froese It's a new week to introduce you to one of the fabulous personalities in the world #withTownHall!

This does not mean they work as part of our team, or are our client (although sometimes they are).

We just interact with so many amazing people that we want to expand networks and introduce them to you, and you to them. This week #withTownHall, we introduce you to Kayla Koroush.

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Once aiming to be a preschool teacher, Kayla works in the marketing department for a winery in Napa Valley, and she blogs for herself at Barrel Thief, a wine blog (a barrel thief is a glass tube that helps vacuum wine out of bottles so vintners can have a taste.) Her blog is a place where she can document her encounters while she explores the world of wine.

We met Kayla at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Buellton, in 2014, where she was a scholarship recipient to attend the conference, and we will see her at the annual Wine Bloggers Conference again in a couple of weeks when the conference takes place in Finger Lakes New York.

Watch our social media for a hello from Kayla when we meet her again in a few weeks, and in the meantime, please give her a hello, as we did when she recently visited Vancouver's Granville Island.

Leave a comment below – or go give this post a like or share on Facebook or Twitter.

Meet Degan Walters With Town Hall

By Leeann Froese It's Saturday - that means it's time to introduce you to one of the fabulous personalities in the world #withTownHall

This does not mean they work as part of our team, or are our client (although sometimes they are).

We just interact with so many amazing people that we want to expand networks and introduce them to you, and you to them.

This week #withTownHall we introduce you to Degan Walters

Degan Walters

Say hi to Degan!

Degan, which is pronounced like Meagan, is an artist, writer, food blogger, scuba diver, motocycle rider, and more.

Her food blog is SmokySweet.com and she also writes freelance articles on food & drink (as well as other subjects) and is a contributor to Foodists.ca.

Degan is from Vancouver but currently lives in Seattle with her husband Matt, dog Riley, and cat Maceo. (This pic was taken a while back, when she still lived in Vancouver and sported #pinkhairdontcare.)

Degan has been writing about food (and lifestyle and travel) since 2008. For a great read on what she has learned from 7 years writing abojut food, check out this post on her blog Smoky Sweet

And whether you already know Degan or not, please help us support her and say a big hello.

Leave a comment below – or go give this post a like or share on Facebook or Twitter

 

Meet Tom Plant With Town Hall

By Leeann Froese It’s Saturday – that means it’s time to introduce you to a new personality #withTownHall.  This does not mean they work as part of our team, or are our client (although sometimes they are). We just interact with so many amazing people that we want to expand networks and introduce them to you, and you to them.

This week we introduce you to Tom Plant. Can you please say hello?

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"We're not snobs, we just like good wine"

This is what Tom's motto is, for his company Wineormous.

Tom's intent is to introduce others to wineries and winemakers he and his wife Laura have found, as well as good restaurants with good wine lists, lots of photos and some good stories. He and Laura also offer intimate wine tasting tours in Temecula for up to seven people.

We got to know Tom at the last two Wine Bloggers Conferences, and we found him to be a most likeable man, so we hope that one day you can meet him too.

Can you please say hello to  with a comment – or go give this post a like or share on Facebook or Twitter.

Create your kit - presented to YVR bloggers - what to include in your media kit

  By Leeann Froese

Are you a blogger? Do you have a media kit?

YVR Bloggers is a group curated by Daddy Blogger Ricky Shetty, and the objective of the group is to hold monthly networking events to educate and inspire bloggers in Vancouver.

santa with Town Hall

The group, which I was invited to join on account of this little #withTownHall blog, is an awesome place to network with bloggers across different industries both offline and online.

At a recent meetup the topic was Marketing Your Blog using Social Media and SEO

Held at the luxurious Waterfall Building near Granville Island the event featured a panel of SEO experts who shared their insights and tips on how your blog can be found on search engines:

Bosco Anthony from Bosco Anthony, Emily Chow from Chow Communications, Christian Thomson from Marwick Marketing, Cijaye DePradine from Web Cash Coach, Keith Kidwell from Netsurf Marketing, Christine Nielsen from Ms Pixel, Chuck Anderson from Blissful Parenting, and Bonnie Sainsbury from Social Media Smarter.

Social media marketing educator Matt Astefan of Web Friendly gave a terrific and super useful keynote: "Facebook Hacking: How to Get Free (or Cheap) Reach with Facebook".

For fun, Victoria Clements sang a Christmas song to get us into the holiday mood, and the Salvation Army was also on hand to raise awareness for the work they do and collect donations. There was also music, and sponsors and so much more happening at this event - including a visit from Santa Claus! To learn more, do check out the YVR Bloggers website and social feeds.

I am proud to share that I also had a small role in the evening. I was invited to share some of my blogger relations expertise, so I shared a top line look at what to include when a blogger builds a media kit (can also be known as a rate sheet) - an essential if you are a blogger wanting to work with marketing and PR companies and sponsored posts and advertisers.

So click on through to see 5 things you need to include, and how to use the content.

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Want to talk bout how our team can build a kit for you?

Need more? Sign up to receive updates like this, and other interesting stuff. Or email leeann@townhallbrands.com