WBC10 Lands in W2

2010 North American Wine Bloggers ConferenceWhile struggling to recover from Le Wine Buff in Bordeaux last week, I’m already here in Walla Walla, WA for the third annual 2010 North American Wine Bloggers’ Conference, whew!  I’m going to be trying to blog a completely different this year, different from WBC08 and WBC09…I’m going to be continuously adding to this post throughout the entire, nutsovino weekend! …we’ll see how it all turns out. 😉  Let’s get diving into the fun, as I’m happily surrounded by my many, MANY talented vinopanions.  Follow along yourself by tracking the #WBC10 hashtag on Twitter and keep track of our busy busy agenda here at the Marcus Whitman.  Cheers!

Updated Links:

Wines from the conference in my WineLog: “WBC10

Conference photos & videos on my Flickr.

The Twitter feed for the conference: #WBC10

My video diary from the conference’s YouTube channel, courtesy of the very cool video talent at Jordan Winery & Vineyard, led by Lisa Mattson.

Behind the Scenes footage from The Wine Movie: A beautiful 2+ minute short in HD showing part of our midnight tasting at Reininger Winery (see below for my take!).

Blog posts from Enjoy Bordeaux, including our Le Wine Buff “unconference” Today’s Bordeaux tasting that we held.  The EB folks also have some great photos from the event on their Flickr and Facebook.

06/25/10 2:00pm

First off, we have had the opening comments from the tireless organizers, Allan Wright from Zephyr Adventures and Joel Vincent from Open Wine Consortium (THANK YOU, again fellas!).  We also heard a bit about the many, very generous sponsors for this year’s event (and THANK YOU!!).

06/25/10 2:25pm

Steve Heimoff, editor/writer for Wine Enthusiast and an accomplished wine blogger himself, is now up on stage as the first Keynote speaker of the conference.  An interesting early comment in his speech was that when he first became a wine writer, it seemed the only people that drank wine in the US were either supersnobs or skid row bums.

06/25/10 3:02pm

And now, possibly the most dramatic wine blogger presentation of all time has begun…Alan Kropf, Editor of Mutineer Magazine is presenting the 2010 Wine Blog Awards, with Ben Morrison on Skype, woot!  And the winner for the best wine blog is Joe Roberts of 1WineDude!

06/25/10 3:40pm

Breakouts sessions!

06/25/10 4:51pm


08 L’Ecole No. 41 Columbia Valley Semillon

-3rd winery in Walla Walla, 89% Sem, 11% Sauv Blanc, Marty Clubb longtime winemaker. Harvested in mid-late September.  Barrel ferment, but with mainly neutral oak.

c: Canary and golden yellow

N: Meyer lemon, good citrus blossom, and a crisp minerality that has a steeliness to the bright fruit

P: Great citrus here of Meyer lemon again and orange peel, with a little apricot mixed in.  Underneath that crisp fruit is a fuller creamy mouthfeel that counterbalances the nice crispness.  Minerality comes out in the juicy finish.

08 Parducci Mendocino County Sustainable White

-Made at request of Whole Foods for their market. 41 Chenin, 30 Sauv Blanc, 12 Viognier Muscadelle $10.99 at Whole Foods

C: Very light yellow

N: Nice florals and fuller white pitted fruit here

P: Big florals and hops here as well, along with apricot and tangerine, slight offdry and finishing crisper than thought.  Quaffer with some spicy summer food.

09 Pithy Little Wine Co. Paso Robles Sangiovese Rosé

-Philosphy is good wine, good design and great service.  Only 5 peeps in the whole winery.  Third gen family farmers, lots besides grapes.

C: Lighter strawberry colored

N: Bright Bing cherry and juicy strawberry here, with some wonderful other red fruit, and some kiwi?

P: Whoa, huge watermelon here, very surprising! Great crispness here and more of a sweeter cherry, thought the wine appears mostly dry.  Great Crisp finish of apricot and cherry.

07 Ortman Family Vineyards Edna Valley Chardonnay

C: Deeper golden color

N: Creamy lemon custard with some pear underneath and slight toast

P: Tons of juicy pear here, cut with an edge of lemon and then cream coats the bottom of the palate. Good balance here, but creamier than my choice.  Definite wine for Moms.

NV Pepperwood Grove California Chardonnay (Big Green Box 3L)

C: Canary yellow

N: Big toasty, buttery aromas, some lemon underneath

P: Huge butter bomb here, with medium cream and some lemon custard after, almost no acid for balance.  Totally not my style, but a solid value for “Napa Chard”.

09 Desert Wind Columbia Valley Sacagawea Vineyard Bare Naked Viognier

C: Lighter golden with canary highlights

N: Heavier florals but then a lot of great citrus mix and pitted fruits and some baking spice.

P: Big florals here and juicy pitted fruits, pear, and some lemon spice finish. Good.

09 Poet’s Leap Columbia Valley Riesling

-$20 and brand new release. 1.3 g RS.

C: Lighter yellow

N: Fresh white fruit here, with some floral notes as well.

P: Very vibrant zesty acidity, with some florals, sweeter white fruit and lemon, then some peppery notes towards the finish, which ends with even more white flowers and lime.

09 Big House California White (Octovin 3L box)

C: Light yellow

N: Kind of an off nose, with wood?  White pitted fruit and some florals.

P: Crisp, with more of those florals and a simpleness to the fruit, finishing with spicy lemon and some tannins.

08 Maryhill Columbia Valley Viognier


C: lighter yellow

N: Toast here, with baked lemon, spice

P: Good acidity here with juicy lemon meringue and finishing toasty and slightly sweet.

08 Hogue Columbia Valley Genesis Chardonnay


C: Canary yellow

N: Lime and lemon here, slight florals and then a bit of toast underlay, very mineral

P: Good cream underlay, then that crisp lemon and lime edge comes in and finishes the wine with its steeliness, cut with a good minerality. Great QPR.

08 Buty Columbia Valley White

-69 Sem, 26 SB, 5 Musc

C: Medium canary yellow

N: Creamier citrus, with a muskiness of some toast or florals lurking in the distance

P: Crsip and almost zesty, this has a great citrus to the fruit and then finishes with a more mellower cream and crisp combo.  Good.

09 Dusted Valley Columbia Valley Rosé

C: Darker watermelon

N: Big watermelon and good strawberry

P: Crisp and huge watermelon here too, with a slight sweetness and then some acidity to round off the strawberry and watermelon.

Whew, done!

06/25/10 09:45pm

Walla Walla Walkabout

Walla Walla is a very cool small town, filled with many laid back, yet well designed wine bars, eateries and coffeeshops.  I took a stroll with my many other wine blogger friends around town, where I first ran into Muriel of Otis Kenyon (see more below at the Vineyard Tours!) and had a very favorable wine experience with the vintner from Pepper Bridge.  He was pouring his ’06 Pepper Bridge Vineyard red blend.  With its very good red-fruited nose and contrastingly deep black-fruited and anise-tinged palate, it ended up being one of my favorites of the weekend.  His sister label Amavi Cellars had their ’07 Amavi Les Collines Vineyard Syrah out and about and man, this was yet another outstanding WA Syrah that I was lucky to taste over that weekend.  It had a beauty of a nose featuring violets in the fore with a nose and palate that was mixed with blue and black fruit.  It finished peppery with great length. Right on!

06/26/10 2:26am

Wine Bloggers at Night!

06/26/10 9:06am

Local Vineyard and Winery Tours & Lunch

This is always another favorite portion of each wine bloggers’ conference in year’s past, the vineyard tours and lunches.  Prior years, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Quivira and Michel-Schlumberger.  Now I have the best opportunity to really dig into the local wine scene and truly start to understand the unique climate, wines, land and people of the Walla Walla Valley appellation.  We got on the buses, yet again not knowing where we were headed, but happy to board for new adventure.  This year the infamous Bus 4(.2) reared it’s crazy head again and we promptly got lost heading to the first vineyard.  After some calls and further local navigation, we were on our way, now knowing that we’d have a vineyard tour at Watermill Winery.

Their main estate vineyard was very beautiful and filled with natural cobblestone that had been dug up over the millennia by various periods of water interaction.  It was very reminiscent of some of the vineyards that I had just seen in Bordeaux and indicative of good vineyard land with great drainage, minerality and good night time radiant temperature for the growing grapes.  We were treated to great tour by Richard Funk, Leonard Brown and Nancy Kezele, along with some very good Malbec from the very vineyard in which we were standing.  Both featured good balance, fine coating tannins, great blue and black fruit and some really great violet floral notes.  Their 07 Cab Franc also showed that great balance along with a nice earthiness.

The next stop on the tour was at Forgeron Cellars, also featuring wines and the winemakers and family from  Long Shadows and Otis Kenyon.  Muriel Kenyon started us off with the awesome story about her great-grandfather and namesake for the winery and very cool wine labelForgeron had their NV Walldette white and ’06 Zinfandel, both featuring great acidity and gobs of fruit.  The ’07 Otis Kenyon Matchless Red was a fruity and toasty red blend, made for the more upscale weeknight dinner, but still with some good structure.  My favorite wine of the panel tasting was the ’06 Long Shadows Chester Kidder red blend that showed exceptional balance, silky mouthfeel, outstanding structure and deep fruit complexity…quite a good red!

The last stop of the day was our leisurely lunch in a just a beautiful little knoll within the Walla Walla Valley appellation.  Waters Winery has their own glass of heaven in the valley, settled into a many-acre wide area of land, nestled in-between a few rolling hills that get some great sun exposure.  We arrived a little early, but Christa Hilt (Twitter) improvised on the fly by pouring some ’09 Substance Wines Sauv Blanc, filled with great lime, grapefruit and zesty acidity to whet our palates for lunch.

We split into three groups for the tasty lunch that was catered by local food haven Olive: shaders, sunners and partial sunshiners.  I chose to be a partial sunshiner with my vinopanions Joe (Twitter) and Amy Power (Twitter) of Another Wine Blog and (I think) Vinconceivable.  About to head off to Santorini on a superad wine junket, we ate the delicious fare with a lucky lineup of Syrah in the form of a Waters Forgotten Hills single vineyard vertical, ’05 – ’07The striking architecture of the winery, very contemporary yet fitting wonderfully with the natural landscape, was reflected within the Syrah: new world in their juicy and bright fruit that carried plenty of depth, yet harmoniously balanced with the good tannic structure, slate minerality and dark earthiness provided by the natural surroundings.  As Joe Roberts (Twitter, Twitter2) of 1WineDude (in Santorini as well, like a bastard) also exclaimed after the trip, it gave me a very strong impression of Syrah in the W2 Valley appellation.

06/26/10 3:38pm

Today’s Bordeaux Le Wine Buff AntiUnConference tasting!

06/26/10 5:06pm

Live Speed Blogging (Reds)

07 Gordon Brothers Family Vineyards Columbia Valley Merlot

C: Darker garnet

N: Black cherry, sweeter oak with a darker cassis undernetah

P: Full and with bigger toast, black cherry here and good balance of round soft tannins and a juicy black fruited finish.

05 Nicholas Cole Cellars Columbia Valley Camille

-$35, 45 M, 28 CF, 26 CS, 1 PV

C: Inky garnet, slight violet

N: Red, black and blue fruit with cocoa and good garden herbs

P: Firm tannins with some of that cocoa and marzipan from the nose, with good depth of dark fruit and good acidity for food.  Finishes long with dark chocolate and black cherry

04 Spofford Station Walla Walla Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

-Current release!  Age for 6 years before release.

C: Medium garnet

N: Spiced red fruit with even a bit of white pepper and slight earthy toast underlay

P: Medium full, with bright red and black fruit and good pencil lead and earth.

07 Banfi Toscana Belnero


C: Garnet and ruby with ruby edges

N: Dried earth with juicier black cherry and brighter cherry with some wild blackberry

P: Great brightness of red and black fruit, toast is integrating and with firm but round tannins, great with food and good earth towards the end.

07 Monthaven Winery Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon (Octavin 3L box)

C: Med ruby

N: Decent red simpler red fruit, a little bit of toast.

P: Medium full with peppery red fruit and light tannins.

09 Doolhof Wellington Dark Lady of the Labyrinth Dark Delight Pinotage


C: ruby, ruby edges

N: Toast and all black fruit and warm damp earth

P: Huge toast here, gigantic. Savory meaty notes then with black fruit and dark chocolate, medium tannins, not really my style.

07 The Magnificent Wine Co. Columbia Valley House Wine

-$13, 32 CS 31 Sy 30 Me 3 Ma 2 Z 1 CF 1 PV

C: Ruby with ruby edges

N: Toast and very ripe red fruit with some anise as well

P: Tons of spice and pepper with a firm structure, cocoa and black and red fruit, charred earth.

08 Ortman Paso Robles 02 Series Sangiovese

-JUST bottled, about 3 days ago, 1 year old oak

C: Lighter ruby

N: Bright red fruit with a wildness to it, with a slight bit of toast and earth and marzipan

P: Toast here bright red fruit with great acidity and even some blue fruit towards the chocolaty finish.

06 Louis M. Martini Napa Valley Lot No. 1 Cabernet Sauvignon

-$125, 500 cases, prerelease

C: Darker ruby, ruby edges

N: Phenomenal nose here with wonderfully complex fresh savory herbs, great black and red fruit with extremely deep fruit.

P: Full and coating with the fine tannins, outstanding black and red fruit with good anise, toast is integrating nicely, just a very well balanced wine.  Awesome.

07 Isenhower Columbia Valley Bachelor’s Button Cabernet Sauvignon

C: Darker garnet, ruby edges

N: Good spicy black and red fruit with some anise

P: Good red and black fruit here as well with a dustiness to it, cocoa powder and further spice in the finish.  Good.

08 The Crusher Clarksburg Grower’s Selection Petite Sirah


C: Inky violet monster

N: Good floral violets, with black and blue fruit and the fruit has a coolness to it, slight dark chocolate

P: Big and yet still balanced with good blue and black fruit, spice and some new leather coming in on the finish.

08 Desert Wind Wahluke Slope Ruah

-45 Me, 40 CS, CF, $20

C: Medium ruby

N: Red and black fruit medley with good wet earth and herbs

P: Medium full with bigger anise, good bright black fruit, baking

And that’s that! All speed blogging is done from the conference and wow, what another brilliant time.  I love these sessions, while extremely crazy and very short (6 minutes per wine), they force you to focus directly on the wine and winemakers for that time with no distractions.  This year it was split into whites and reds, which was brilliant.  Tremendous fun!

06/26/10 11:56pm

Reininger Winery Renegade Midnight Tasting

If there’s one thing that I learned in Walla Walla, those wineries and winemakers know how to quickly and creatively come up with cool wine events. Thursday night, Justin Vajgert decided to throw a late night tasting party for any wine blogger brave enough to head off into the midnight air to the stylish Reininger Winery.  By Saturday afternoon he had flyers on the ready and was passing them out to winebloggers looking for some late night sneaky wine.  I decided to go…along with about 20 other vino fiends.  We arrived after a ride from the renaissance winemaker Chuck Reininger kindly gave us a ride in his SUV.  There we were treated to some yummy late night snacks and even tastier wines, many of which were still unreleased, all courtesy of what appeared to be their entire staff.  I was most impressed with Chuck’s ’05 and prerelease ’08 Helix Sangiovese, both of which featured very bright, intensely flavored red berry fruit that was nicely supported by their good structure.  After those two hours however, I was definitely ready to begin my wino dreams and happily accepted a ride back to the hotel from Chuck.

06/27/10 10:45am

Last day and a very fun wine and food pairing presentation from chef Jeffrey Saad (loves the “culinary facial” that comes from absorbing the many aromas in a newly delivered plate of food, flipping through his mental flavor rolodex to break down the components).

Very good quick info about complementary and also opposite food and wine pairings.  Then we head out to the open area for a very cool wine and food lunch pairing walkaround, courtesy of Marcus Whitman’s Marc Restaurant chef, Bear Ullman.  Speaking of which, I can’t say enough about how awesome the Marcus Whitman hotel has been during this conference: totally on top of everything, amazing service and very friendly staff, nicely complemented by the great and richly historic facilities.  Thanks Marcus Whitman!

06/27/10 11:40am

Wine & Food Pairings from Chef Bear

09 Cousino Maipo Valley Macul Sauvignon Gris

Paired with with Chicken Skewer with White Balsamic Vanilla BBQ on Chayote Slaw with Micro Cilantro

C: Lightest yellow:

N: Very crisp and clean with zesty lime and steeliness

P: Great steel lime crispness here just pairs beautifully with the basalmic, cilantro and vanilla sweetness.  Good!

09 High Note Uco Valley Malbec

with Cherry Scented Duck Confit Empanadas with Mole and Avocado.

C: Darker violet garnet

N: Black cherry and savory earth

P: Full and smooth with great rich red fruit, toast underlay that matches the savory in the empanadas and earthier notes.

08 Terranoble Colchagua Valley Grand Reserva Carménère

with Oven Dried San Marzano Tomato and Andouille Flat Bread

C: Dark violet and garnet

N: Rich red berry fruit with some Bing and Black cherry, slight herbs

P: Full and with that juicy berry red fruit, with good pepper and full-bodied medium tannins.   The bright fruit pairs with the savory andouille, yep.

06/27/10 12:10pm

And now…closing remarks, thank yous and the announcement of the site for #WBC11, Charlottsville, VA!  Thank you also, to the fine people at Meru Networks, without which we’d have had no way to broadcast the great wines of W2.  Thanks Joel and Thomas!

Vinopanion: Ward Kadel - @drXeNo

View posts by Vinopanion: Ward Kadel - @drXeNo
Ward Kadel - @drXeNo is the founder of Vinopanion wine blog, former West Coast Ambassador & Staff Blogger for WineLog.net and former Le Wine Buff for Bordeaux.com (CIVB). He will try any and all wines and tends to write about the parts of his life that include wine...like virtually all of it! He and his wife grew up in Napa and Sonoma and they still live in the Napa Valley. Check out the wines he's recommended with his WKBadges. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Like #Vinopanion on Facebook. Contact him: "Ward at WineLog.net". Ward happily accepts samples but does not guarantee a review, positive or negative.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by winecountrydog, Ward Kadel – @drXeNo. Ward Kadel – @drXeNo said: Live #wine blogging all day & all nite this wknd at #WBC10 Wine Bloggers Conf in Walla Walla on #Vinopanion! http://bit.ly/cRSE4f #fb […]

  2. waage1
    June 26, 2010

    Thank for the review of the wines. I am personally headed to Walla Walla next weekend to do some sampling myself. Do you have any highly recommend places to seek out? I was definetly going to try to make it to L’Ecole.

  3. Ward Kadel - @drXeNo
    June 27, 2010

    Hey there, Buddy! Thanks for checking out the wines. Yes, I think L’Ecole is a definite and easy to get to. I’ve also been impressed with Waters Winery, Desert Wind and Watermill. All have great wines, particularly Malbec and Syrah. Enjoy!

  4. Ward Kadel - @drXeNo
    June 27, 2010

    Oops, forgot one more great one from their supercool midnight tasting last night: Reininger Winery and Helix: http://reiningerwinery.com/! Great wines, particularly their Cab (probably my fav from this region) and Sangiovese. Yum.

  5. Walid Romaya
    June 27, 2010

    Thanks Ward for this post as it gave me a quick insight into the events. I had registered for the event but I had a last minute emergency that prevented me from coming. Much appreciated.

    1. Ward Kadel - @drXeNo
      June 28, 2010

      Hi Walid and thank you for the comment! I saw your name when I arrived kind of late and was surprised not to see you. I hope that everything is ok and take care!

  6. Joe Herrig
    July 3, 2010

    good approach with the blog post. speed blogging kicked my butt and pretty much closed my laptop for the balance of the trip!

    Thanks for sharing all the great Bordeaux and not posting any pics of my “dance” moves.

    Sláinte! Joe @suburbanwino

    1. Ward Kadel - @drXeNo
      July 5, 2010

      Thanks Joe! Yeah I had a real hard time keeping up with the wines in both sessions, but I just barely hung on, heh.

  7. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ward Kadel – @drXeNo. Ward Kadel – @drXeNo said: Final #WBC10 recap, thoughts, & tasty #wine notes from a wknd of discovery in W2, WA! http://bit.ly/crK01I @SubstanceWines @reiningerwinery […]

  8. […] Ever resourceful in the comedy department (witness Editor & Loco Alan Kropf’s (Twitter) brilliant 2010 American Wine Blog Awards presentation (sort of) alongside compat Ben Morrison (Twitter)) The Mutinous crew has assembled an A-List of […]

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