6 years ago Ryan, Gabriella and I found ourselves organising a gathering for wine loving bloggers like ourselves, drawn from a motivated pool of bloggers on facebook, using all the means available to us, because of a chance encounter. That online encounter took us to Rioja in 2008, and will bring us back to Rioja in 2013 between 25th and 27th of October.
If you are curious, here is the original EWBC Catavino post that kicked off the whole event.
Why Rioja Then?
Rioja seemed a good choice. Participant interest in the conference came from the UK, Spain, Germany, Portugal, France, Italy, and beyond. We needed somewhere central, somewhere well known, somewhere with infrastructure, somewhere that focused on exports and might understand the value of new communications! Wine blogging was unknown. Above everything, we needed to go to somewhere that trusted us.
- It meant that we came to Rioja because of the far-sighted and generous support of Bodegas Dinastia Vivanco, who I was working for at the time, who provided not on the venue, but the infrastructure and some fabulous meals and experiences. Our first Conference Sponsor.
- It meant that we could taste the wines from some fantastic wineries from Rioja as well as around Spain and Portugal, thanks to the profile of Catavino (a list of some of these is included at the end if you are curious and want to get thirsty).
- It meant that we could tour, and taste, at wineries like Marques de Riscal, Bodegas Bilbainas and Miguel Merino. These ‘press’ tours are taken for granted these days by bloggers, but at the time it was highly unusual.
- It also meant that we could explore the tapas and other culinary delights of Logroño and learn about travelling around Rioja from La Rioja Turismo.
We are indebted to these sponsors, and will do our best to involve them again this year, but what made the dream come true were the people and their ideas and enthusiasm. It was the start of something special, not because we planned it that way, but because of the people we met (the intrepid crew of original participants is listed below), the ideas that emerged and the wines we drank. In recognition of this, participants from that first event will have free entry to the EWBC 2013.
2008 was also a time of personal transformation as my second child, Duncan, was born just weeks before the first conference. How ironic, or how appropriate, therefore, that this year will also see the arrival of the new Opaz baby just weeks before the EWBC.
Why Rioja Now?
Rioja has always been the talismanic “source” of the EWBC that eventually led to us making so many new friends in Lisbon, Vienna, Brescia and Izmir. How different would the world be, at least for wine bloggers and wine lovers, if that had not happened? It is hard to say, but it is also hard to imagine daily life and interactions on the now ubiquitous social networks without those friends.
There is a thread in the conversations at every EWBC since 2008; about what is wine blogging, how we write about and rate wine, how we make a living from this activity, that hark back to the themes of the first conference. We thought it might be appropriate, therefore, to go back to revisit some of those places as well as those themes to see what has changed in the intervening years. It also means that those of us who can still remember those days, can share with the whole community the places we fell in love with.
Our theme this year is Flavour, and there is a lot to explore not only in Rioja but around Spain and Iberia. These are areas that people think they know, but in fact are in the process of dramatic change and there are nuances that deserve to be explored in more detail, just as not all digital communication is “blogging”.
In addition, 2013 is also the year of “Social Media” for the Consejo Regulador de la DOCa Rioja, what a dramatic change that demonstrates, and one we want to support.
Much has changed in “digital communications” since August 2008 but not our shared love for wine, and we hope the 2013 conference will build an even stronger community for the years to come.
The original participant list:
Doug Cook, Andre Ribeirinho, Andre Cid, Emídio Santos, Giampiero Nadali, Ryan Opaz, Gabriella Opaz, Alastair Bathgate, Ane Miren Lambé, Robert McIntosh, Filippo Ronco, Elena Padovani, Elizabetta Tosi, Justin Roberts, Eduardo Benito, Edgar Mendoza, Emilio Saez Van Eerd, Thomas Lippert, José Eduardo Jorge Silva, Ricard Giner, Mary Rose Sidgwick, Juan Manuel Gonzalvo Mancilla, Amy Lillard, Cristina Villar Miranda, Denise Medrano, Tom Perry, Henrik Heikel, Amanda Regan, Óscar Quevedo, Eugenio La Mesa, David Cray, Gianpaolo Paglia, Javier Navarro .
Some of the wineries whose wines we tasted in 2008:
Bodegas Dinastia Vivanco, Marques de Riscal, Miguel Merino, Bodegas Bilbainas, Bodegas Bentomiz, Bodegas RODA, Bodegas Muga, Dominio de Tares, Niepoort, Casa de la Ermita, Heredade Esporao, Herdade da Malhadinha, Abadia Retuerta, Cortes de Cima, Lopez de Heredia, Luis Pato, Osborne, Dominio de Valdepusa, Euldad Massana i Noya, Bodegas Hispano Suizas and Taylors Fladgate.