I’m now just one week away from the Wine Blogger Conference. From the Welcome Opening at 9 a.m. through to the Live Wine Blogging conclusion at 6 p.m., Day 2 will be packed full of learning, eating and wine tasting. The Professional Wine Writing Tips course is definitely on the top of my list. This course will be taught by Wine journalist and educator Deborah Parker Wong; Wine Business Monthly editor-in-chief Cyril Penn; longtime wine blogger Fred Swan and keynote speaker Andrea Robinson. From mastering the four points of view in wine writing to doing the dirty work of finding sources & fact checking to the ethics of accepting free wine or travel to enriching my wine vocabulary. These are all things I’d like to improve and I’m definitely looking forward to the class. Next, is learning about What Companies Want from Wine Bloggers. This will make my writing more relevant and publishable! As part of our mid day break, El Dorado Wines is generously providing all conference goers with lunch. It will be interesting to see what vegan options will be available for me. Yum! The afternoon will be filled with Wine Discovery sessions about the Consorzio Tutela Lugana DOC stretching along the southern shores of Lake Garda in the Italian wine growing region of Lugana or DOP Cariñena in Aragon the birth place of the Garnacha grape in Spain. Once my brain is full of info on Italian or Spanish wines, I get to participate in doing some Live Blogging about White & Rosè wines. This should be a blast! I hope I’m as spontaneous as I think I am! And then it is off to a delicious vegan dinner with family in Santa Rosa! I’m excited to see them and to eat, drink and be vegan…all weekend long!
When I started my blog three years ago I did so with nothing more than a desire to write. I didn’t know what I wanted to write about, I didn’t know who would read it and I had NO idea if I even had the skills to write. I never studied to become a writer and hadn’t written a short story in years. My tech skills were adequate at best and I really didn’t know what I wanted my voice to be. When you look back at the first several blog posts, that is all really obvious! But once I started, I realized what Napa Valley lacked was a positive voice for vegans. There were very limited dining options; Chefs had made their careers and fortunes serving up plate after plate of animal flesh with no signs of slowing down. Having lived in Napa for 2 1/2 years by the time I unveiled my blog, I realized that I had spent most weekends somewhere else. My husband and I were traveling all over the Bay Area for our food and entertainment and not spending any time in beautiful Napa Valley. So it came down to this…I started my blog and raised my voice for the animals OR I moved. While I was open to starting over somewhere more vegan-friendly, Steve just loved Napa. So, in lieu of an argument that I wasn’t going to win and a move that he didn’t want, my blog was born!
The amount of knowledge I have acquired about winemaking, food and wine pairing, writing and self-hosting has been self-taught and incredible! And I finally realized that this writing thing is pretty cool. And I not only want to keep doing it but I want to keep getting better at it. I want to earn more money doing it. And I want to be seen as an expert on my topics.
The Conference is being held in Santa Rosa and I’m really looking forward to spending my time and money in a city that was so devastated by the 2017 North Bay fires. In fact, the registration fees for the Wine Education sessions and Wine Dinners are being donated to the local American Red Cross based in Santa Rosa. The Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country is hosting the Conference and will be offering vegan dining options and I’ll get to support all of my favorite vegan restaurants in and around Santa Rosa!
To start this new journey, I’ll be joining close to 300 other attendees at the Wine Bloggers Conference on November 9th – 11th. I will be surrounded by Citizen Bloggers like me; Industry Bloggers; Social Media Innovators and Wine Industry leaders. Day One of the Conference includes Wine Education Sessions with Mark Beringer of Beringer Wines. He’ll be sharing the story behind one of Napa Valley’s most celebrated wines – their iconic Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignons. Next, I’ll be learning about the relationshjp between dry-farming & quality wine production with an illustrious panel that includes producers from Armida Winery, DeLoach Vineyards, Oak Farm Vineyards and Quivira Vineyards. That evening the Opening Reception & Expo will include an incredible meet & greet with my fellow attendees; tastings of wines produced locally and from around the world and a big welcome from the event sponsors.
And this is just Day One! My weekend is going to be filled with learning, conversations…and wine! Keep an eye out for what Days Two and Three will include and as always…eat, drink and be vegan!
It is hard to believe that it has been 12 days since my community was hit by the relentless and devastating fires. Mentally and emotionally I am still trying to come to terms with what happened. Family, friends and acquaintances lost their homes and their businesses. And sadly some lost their loved ones – people and pets. Feeling immense gratitude, I was spared. My home was not affected by the fires, I never lost power and I was not required to evacuate. My husband Steve, my dog Violet and my cats Stig & Clover are all safe and are adjusting to Napa’s “new” normal. In the midst of all this sadness and uncertainty, my Wine Country neighbors did exactly what I expected. We banded together to assist those who needed the help most. From feeding the First Responders, to offering those without a home a safe place to sleep, to caring for our misplaced animals – large and small.
The fires are under control, most evacuation orders have been lifted and the air quality is improving daily! The majority of businesses are open again and ready to welcome guests. If you are looking for a way to help our Wine Country recover, there are so many ways! First, please don’t forget about us. Napa is still a gorgeous place to visit full of restaurants, boutiques, hotels and wineries that, more than ever, want to offer you an amazing experience. If you aren’t heading out for a vacation any time soon, purchase Napa and Sonoma wines in your hometown. Whether you are dining out with friends or planning a quiet evening at home, Napa and Sonoma wines are available around the world. If you have the means to donate money to help rebuild this vibrant community, there are many organizations that will appreciate your support and will keep the funds local! The Napa Valley Community Foundation is a wonderful place to start. This organization will get the funds to those that need it most. The Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership (CVNL) is also a local organization that will ensure 100% of your donation helps the victims of the fires. I’ve worked with their team in the past & really respect what they do for the nonprofit community so this is where Steve and I chose to make our first donation. The Redwood Credit Union (RCU), in partnership with their RCU Community Fund, Inc., has teamed up with the Press Democrat and Senator Mike McGuire and are now accepting financial donations to assist the North Bay fire victims and aid relief efforts. 100% of your tax-deductible donations will go directly to support those affected. Through their website, you can choose to support any or all of the four counties that have been affected – Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino or Lake. Click here to see how the relief fund has helped!
If you are like me, you may want to support the animals displaced or injured by the fire. The Wildlife Rescue Center of Napa County (WRCNC) rehabilitates and releases many wildlife species that are orphaned, kidnapped, ill, injured or in distress. The WRCNC had just enough time to relocate their wildlife from the clinic but had to leave most of their supplies behind. Though the clinic was spared from the fire, they lost all power and most of the food and refrigerated medications were ruined. I volunteered with this group of compassionate people for three years and I was happy to be able to donate some funds to help them get back on their feet! If you are planning your wine tasting experiences in Sonoma or Napa Valley, visit Cellarpass to do all of your scheduling. They have teamed up with Wine Country Animal Lovers (WCAL) to raise money to help reunite families with their beloved pets, get the needed help to the ranchers to transport their farmed animals and cover costs for the medical attention that animals may require. All funds collected by Cellarpass will be donated directly to WCAL. This was another place that Steve and I felt our donations would do the most good! Though one of their staff members made it out of the fire with just her darling dog and the clothes she had on and three more of the staff were evacuated, Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch has done a remarkable job of helping our local companion and farmed animals over the last 2 weeks. They are a local, vegan-friendly animal protection group that is always on the front lines! Monetary contributions or items from their Immediate Needs Wish list are greatly appreciated!
I have no doubt that Wine Country will recover and will be stronger than ever. But we can’t do it without you. Please send your loving thoughts, drink our wine whenever and wherever you can, come visit us and support our recovery with your generous donations. And please don’t forget… to eat, drink and be vegan!
Postscript: With gratitude I want to thank the First Responders who came here from across the country & around the world to help fight this fire. You are my heroes!! Sending my compassion & love to the family of volunteer Firefighter Garrett Paiz who sadly lost his life while fighting the Nuns Fire. Santa Rosa has suffered great losses – in life and property. I want to send my love and compassion to you. I will be in Santa Rosa in a few weeks to offer my support! Love Tonia