What I learned at the 2015 Wine Bloggers Conference

WbcFL1. Cider and Wine Bloggers….?…Maybe
By every measure hard cider is much more similar to wine than it is to beer. So, will America’s cutting edge wine writers, the bloggers, embrace cider? Maybe. My attempt to introduce many of them to the drink by showing off ciders from Eve’s Cidery seemed moderately successful in getting them interested. The reaction to these great ciders ranged from “WOW” to “Eh”.

2. Upstate NY and the Finger Lakes Region is Tempting
Shocked. I was shocked at the beauty of this region of upstate NY. Of course, I was there at its most beautiful and did not witness the winters. Still, this rural and dynamic region spill over with beauty and authenticity. Kathy and I are thinking of moving away from Napa and looking primarily at Oregon. But wow….this NY region is tempting. And the wines….? Beautiful.

3. Meg Maker May Be the Most Impressive Writer Dabbling in Wine Blogging
Meg Maker women is smart, poised, driven and talented. I knew about the talented part before the Conference but hadn’t witnessed the poised, smart and driven part. And she was all over the conference as a panelist, moderator, speaker, and Award-Winner. Look for many more great things from Ms. Meg Maker.

4. A.W. Tillinghast is Mean
Prior to the Conference I stopped to see my good friends Matt and Nancy Siegel, proprietors of The Siegel Wine Cave. Matt took me to play a round of golf at his club, a course designed by the great golf course designer A.W. Tillinghast in the 1920s. The greens at the Binghamton Country Club were just plain mean….sloping forward, for example, when they looked to obviously slope backward; appearing to be flat when in fact the balls roll off the right side of the green. Mean, Tillie…just mean.

5. America’s Best Wine Editors Should Send “Scouts” to the Conference
The Wine Bloggers Conference is attended by people with an array of talent. Some in attendance are barely writers. Some are tremendously curious minds who are smart and driven. The editors at the major wine publications and wine sites should be sending “scout” to this conference to discover the next, great, up and coming wine writer. They will find them.

6. Diversity of Experience is More Important Than Diversity of Gender or Race
While I don’t know how diverse the wine blogging community is from a gender or race perspective, what became clear to me at the Wine Bloggers Conference is that if good writing on wine and if useful insights about wine is one of the primary reasons for reading about wine, then the blogging community best serves its readers by encompassing a diversity of life experiences, not gender and race.

7. Eight Hours of Sleep Is Really Kind of Great
Having not slept for 8 hours in over a year, I took the opportunity of the Conference to do just that one day. My goodness. That’s a nice thing. You actually wake up refreshed, thinking better and more energized—all of which is a prerequisite for taking advantage of a conference that is practically non-stop.


12 Responses

  1. Kevin - August 17, 2015

    If you’re looking for a wine-oriented, more affordable, lovely place to live, you ought to check out Charlottesville, VA. Relocated here from SF seven years ago and never looked back…

  2. Todd - August 17, 2015

    Tom, I very much enjoyed the Eve’s ciders; as well as the Vermont, Maryland, and California regional ciders that a few others brought to share.

  3. Meg Houston Maker - August 17, 2015

    Tom, it was a great pleasure meeting you in person (at last!) and working with you on the winners’ panel. Many thanks for your support and for these kind follow-up remarks. I’m honored.

  4. Nova Cadamatre - August 17, 2015

    Hi Tom,
    The winter is beautiful too in its way. NY is an amazing place and a hidden gem for most people. I’m so glad everyone at the conference was able to experience this incredible place! Thanks for coming!


  5. Julie Johnson - August 17, 2015

    Tom–so glad to see your celebration of the beauty of the Finger Lakes area–couldn’t agree more (not to mention that the Rieslings are pretty beautiful as well). We once had our eyes on an old, classic farm high on a hill above the eastern slopes of Seneca Lake—then Napa called. I love Rutherford but still dream about that farm…..

  6. Frank Morgan - August 17, 2015

    Tom – Good to see you in Corning and catchup briefly. Thank you for sharing the Eve’s Cider during lunch.
    I second Kevin’s recommendation for Charlottesville, VA 🙂 and hold the same view of Meg.
    Donald Ross certainly gives Tillinghast a run for his money in the ‘meanness’ category (PH2).

  7. Thomas Pellechia - August 17, 2015


    Although you didn’t get in touch while here, this might interest you:


    • Carl - August 18, 2015

      That isn’t your place Thomas or is it?


      • Thomas Pellechia - August 20, 2015

        Yes, it is, Carl. The time has come.

  8. Alissa Leenher - August 18, 2015

    I was sorry to mis the conference this year but was able to visit the region in the previous weeks. It is stunning, but the winters are indeed long and can be brutal.
    Meg Maker is, without question, my favorite writer in the field. She transports; each sentence carefully crafted. Not only is she a brilliant writer, Meg is a gracious mentor to many. I hope to meet her in person soon.
    Thank you for your thoughts.

  9. Matt McGinnis - August 18, 2015


    I agree with most of your points here: in particular the beauty of the Finger Lakes region and the quality of Meg Maker’s writing. I’m not quite sure what you mean about that 8 hours of sleep though. How is that possible?



  10. Matt Siegel - August 25, 2015


    We loved hosting you and we are glad the Finger Lakes are in the running for the Wark’s potential relocation. Winters are what you make of them and there is plenty to do!

    The locker next to mine at BCC is vacant, I might have the locker tag made up for you just in case! While the greens do not get any easier the more you play the less frustrated you get…Also, the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open (Champions Tour) is in town this week…

    And The Siegel Wine Cave is always open for you guys!


Leave a Reply