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Town Hall revealed at #WBC13 – The Opening Reception

By Leeann Froese As mentioned in the previous post, the Wine Blogger’s Conference 2013 | #WBC13 was held in June 2013 in Penticton; in Canada for the first time. This was the second Wine Blogger’s Conference that I attended. My first was in 2012 in Portland.

Sujinder Juneja and I attended on behalf of our team, and though we had not formally made the transition yet, this conference was the first time we shared our collaboration moving forward and the upcoming launch of Town Hall as a company.

Tony Munday and Sarah Lefebvre of the Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association.

The conference, held at the Penticton Lakeside Resort, opened with a Trade Show that was an exhibition of conference sponsors. Conference attendees moved throughout a ballroom and met people from the Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association, who poured a selection of wines from the region. They were cheerfully represented by Tony Munday and Sarah Lefebvre, pictured.

Other highlights in the room included the exhibit from Tourism Penticton, where they were rolling out their You Are Here campaign, and a very fun photo booth from British Columbia that allowed attendees to take photos featuring different BC landscape backgrounds.

We are loaded onto buses and taken to our secret location for the opening reception.

From here, attendees piled on to buses for the #WBC13 Opening Reception with Great Estates of the Okanagan. We were driven to a secret location, which was revealed to be See Ya Later Ranch, a property I know well, from when I was on the team that launched this winery. (A note for readers of this blog who are new to me: while working with Coletta & Associates I was the communications person for Vincor Canada (now Constellation) for 10 years (1999 – 2010), and represented the wineries that make up the Great Estates of the Okanagan. It was actually our team at Coletta that worked with the hospitality team to design, create, and brand the Great Estates program. There is more to tell on all of this, but not here.) Needless to say, I was very excited to visit!

The opening party is hosted by Constellation at See Ya Later Ranch.

I have always thought that See Ya Later Ranch winery has the best view of all wineries in BC, and I was feeling proud that Constellation decided to use this winery to welcome all the bloggers and really give them a ‘wow’ factor. And they did not disappoint!

As soon as we got off the bus, we were welcomed with a glass of Steller’s Jay sparkling wine from Sumac Ridge Estate Winery paired to oysters and other bites. We knew the night was off to a great start.

The opening party at See Ya Later Ranch was catered by Joy Road Catering. The food was creative and outstanding!

All of the food pairings for the opening reception were created by Joy Road Catering. Joy Road is owned by chefs Cameron Smith and Dana Ewart, and the two of them and their team are widely known for the magic they work with local, region ingredients and their skill in imparting memorable flavours. Another classy treat from Constellation to have the bloggers get to try Joy Road.

@JoyRoadCatering #WBC13

The property was dotted with stations that attendees could walk to at their own pace and try the wines from the rest of the Great Estates wineries: Inniskillin, Jackson-Triggs, And Nk’Mip Cellars paired to inspired dishes from Joy Road.

At the opening party at See Ya Later Ranch those that wanted to try a hand at riddling were timed and the best time would win a magnum of sparkling wine. Josie Heisig from Tourism British Columbia has a go.

However before we could go past the sparkling wine, Constellation had a fun challenge for us. Those that wanted to try a hand at riddling sparkling wine were timed, and the best time would win a magnum of sparkling wine. We caught Josie Heisig from Destination BC doing a great job.

My time riddling was 15.88 seconds. Like a boss! I am sure I have won. Little did I know that moments earlier, Sujinder did it in 12 seconds!

Leeann's Time

As we progressed through the event and tried all the delicious foods and wines, it was fun to see the winemakers and other members of the team I used to work with and say hello, as well as commiserate with the other bloggers on how amazing the setting, food, and wine was.

Scott Trudeau from the Penticton Herald Newspaper with me and Sujinder

It was nice to catch up with the bloggers I met in Portland last year, as well as see local bloggers and media.

Radishes in "dirt" by Joy Road Catering at the opening party at See Ya Later Ranch.

One inventive dish that has to be mentioned is the radishes in ‘dirt’ – radishes in jars with goat cheese and crumbled hazelnut ‘dirt’. It was beautiful in presentation and delicious.

The sun went down, and we saw a stunning dusk view.

The incredible view from See Ya later Ranch, overlooking the Okanagan Valley and north to Skaha Lake.

Then, full, tired and wowed, we headed back to get ready for the formal conference opening on Friday.