Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What I Learned Out On The Road

“Let me show what I learned out on the road…” This post is about the sights, people and delights from the road trip, and specifically the road trip for the WineMaker Magazine Annual Conference that my wife and I have taken three years running. The title comes from a Kid Rock song, and having been on the road with him and 2800 other fans recently, the tune has been stuck in my head. I won’t apologize for the song or the lyrics, I didn’t write them, and can only say to the squares who might be reading this; the song isn’t PC, is a tad raunchy and don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I didn’t shoot the video above, but I was at this show onboard the Carnival Destiny back in April. He also played this song two days later on the beach. What a great way to enjoy a road trip!

The WineMaker Magazine Conference was held for its fifth edition in Ithaca, NY in early June. The past two years my wife and I have attended and those trips have taken us to Stevenson, WA and Santa Barbara, CA. Margot and I make a mini-vacation out of the trip, and when the trip has ended we are typically well worn and feel like we’ve been gone from home for far too long.

If you haven't been, the best way to understand this trip is trough some of the photos we've brought home.

( This is us at the end of the 2010 awards dinner which was at the start of our trip! )

The trip has it all, new sights and sounds, friends and fans, late nights, hotel parties, all different kinds of people, an abundance of food and drink AND just enough excess to say you’ve lived.

The People

The people we meet at the WineMaker Magazine Conference come from all over the US, Canada and elsewhere in the world. They make all kinds of wines from all kinds of fruit (or sell stuff so somebody who can) and love hanging out talking about it. Our wine-making and wine-loving friends are always so much fun to be on the road with.

( We dine and socialize with new friends in Washington. 2010. )

( And on that same trip we meet up with friends who used to live in New England with us. )

( Friends from one year enjoying the revelry with us. Santa Barbara, 2011. )

( Return to celebrate again a year later. Finger Lakes, 2012. )

( Wine loving friends from home came out on the road with us this year! We broke them.
Finger Lakes, 2012. )

( New friends who honor us with their wonderful fruit wines made in Montana!
Finger Lakes, 2012.)

( Friends to geek out on wine with for a few days! Finger Lakes, 2012. )

The Sights

The sights on the trip are ripe for the taking. In 2010 we were blanked on getting pictures of Mt Hood, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainer. We saw Rainer one evening with setting-sun colored clouds around it that totally killed it. Here are some of the sights from the trips.

( From the back of the Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, WA. 2010. )

( Multonomah Falls in Oregon. 2010. )

( The Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland, OR. 2010. )

( The opposition of the beach and the mountains in Santa Barbara really grabbed me. 2011. )

( Beautiful beach too. Santa Barbara, 2011. )

( The west side of Seneca Lake. Finger Lakes, 2012. )

( The Finger Lakes didn't disappoint! The west side of Seneca Lake. 2012. )

( The view from the room in transitional weather. Finger Lakes, 2012. )

The Food!

The food on the trip is all over the place. Margot and I go hunting for beer, cheese, local sandwiches & pizza, fine dining; and anything local that has some character of its own. And we like to eat! The conference food itself it generally good, and the Statler Hotel did an especially good job this year.

( The beers in Santa Barbara were outstanding! 2011. )

( And tripping into Los Olivos on Tri-tip Day for one of these monsters was pure luck. 
Santa Barbara, 2011. )

( Margot studies coffee at the WineMaker Conference. We all do the way we party! 2010. )

( Hanging at Pike Place Market in Seattle, 2010. )

( Post wine-tasting pizza in Woodinville, WA. 2010. )

( The beers at the Rogue's Harbor Inn in Lansing, NY were unknown to us and well made! 2012. )

( The breakfast spread put out by the Statler in Ithaca was full of options! 2012. )

( House spreads at Dano's Hueriger on Seneca Lake. 2012. )

( The charcuterie plate at Dano's Hueriger on Seneca Lake. 2012. )

( Hous-emade sausage at Dano's Hueriger on Seneca Lake. 2012. )

The Wineries & Winemakers

No WineMaker Magazine Conference trip is complete without some of the local wine. I likely take this to an extreme where I have sampled no fewer than 25 local wines from a handful of wineries the first year, to several hundred wines from a dozen or more producers just a few weeks ago. Nothing beats experience and while I won't pronounce anything about the wines, wineries and regions in general with mine, I do have lots of recommendations of wines to try and people to meet. 

( Post-conference tasting in Woodinville, WA. 2010. )

( Chateau Ste. Michelle. WA, 2010. )

( Santa Barbara, 2012. )

( Santa Barbara, 2012. )

( Santa Barbara area winemakers talking Pinot. 2011. )

( Not just a winery,but also a source for Finger Lakes grapes and juice. 2012. )

( The people behind Heart & Hands on Cayuga Lake were so good to finally meet!
Finger Lakes, 2012. )

( Finger Lakes, 2012. )

( Red Tail Ridge has a beautiful winery! Finger Lakes, 2012. )

( Oh yeah, I tried it all! Finger Lakes, 2012. )

( And I take lots of notes! Finger Lakes, 2012. )

Rock Star Moments

Part of the conference trip is the swap night and we finish the conference with the annual awards dinner. Both nights offer opportunities to share your craft, get recognized and show everyone how you do your thing! I've also been a speaker two years in a row which offers its own flavors to the trip.

( In 2010 I was stunned to win nine times, including four gold medals! )

( Speaker and Sponsor Night in Santa Barbara, 2011. )

( Margot picking up some hardware in 2011! )

( Sharing tips on making award winning red wines in 2011. )

( In 2012 we took down nine medals again, only two gold this time though! )

( We make fast fans of our wine and swap unopened bottles with peers. 2012. )

( We see unbelievable response to some wines, including to a gold medal winning 
spicy, dessert wine. 2012. )

( Margot loves to throw up the metal when she brings some home! 2012. )

Socializing & Partying

I bet you were wondering when we were going to get to the partying and carrying on. We get a lot of laughs in during the conference. And yes, winemakers do drink, and we typically drink the gambut; wine, beer, cider, mead, liquor and cocktails! When we get together we open more bottles than we expect to drink and try to sip slowly and responsibly so we can take it all in. Margot and I don't take many pictures during the parties, but not because they aren't photo worthy; it's just we want to have fun too!

( The magazine columnist comedy show. These folks really are funny! 2011. )

( Lunch in Santa Barabara. We are all sipping on some homemade wines. Pre-gaming... 2011. )

( The after-party. And we do it right! 2011. )

( We drove to NY this year, so we could bring this. 2012. )

( One of our spreads. We loved sharing so many of our fruit wines with friends! 2012. )
( Swap night in full swing. More open bottles from more places! 2012. )

( Don't ya just love it? 2012. )

Well, that's the WineMaker Magazine Conference road trip. I didn't talk about the seminars or the vendors, but not because they aren't important, but because those aren't topics where most people would expect the fun to be had. They are, but only for the cork dorks and wine geeks.




Brant said...

Thanks for sharing the wonderful pictures! It was great seeing you and Margot again this year.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what great pictures and seems like an amazing experience! Do you guys ship to PA by any chance? Cheers!