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You’ll probably read a lot more about this event on other blogs as well, but I must say I was very excited to help to host 40 of Europe’s leading wine bloggers at Dinastia Vivanco this weekend.

Wine blogging is getting more mainstream, with more wineries, journalists, marketers and wine consumers using it as a means to share information on wine and their experiences, but so far, in Europe at least, we’ve not managed to find ways to work together. This was the main driver behind getting bloggers together and you can read more about this here.

We (the organisers) were looking for a place to run the event, that fitted all these criteria:

  • Somewhere to meet and discuss blogging matters
  • Somewhere we could feed & entertain 20+ (eventually almost 50) delegates
  • Somewhere with exciting wines that so many different bloggers would find appealing
  • Located in a region that bloggers would find exciting

Dinastia Vivanco Conference RoomDISCUSSIONS:

The facilities at Dinastia Vivanco were, to me, the logical solution, and the Vivanco family wholeheartedly agreed to support this event.

I’ve never before had a chance to use the Conference room at the museum (this room is set up with AV, simultaneous translation, and everything – no wine on tap at each seat though!) but if you need to get 40+ in a room, you’ll need somewhere substantial and I think it worked well to give everyone a chance to participate. I must admit I quite enjoyed sitting on the stage even if my shirt was the main attraction! (this photo by Ryan Opaz)

ENTERTAINMENT & FOOD:

The lunch was great, even if it only took 1.5 hours, which by Spanish standards is a rush bordering on a human rights violation. Several of the bloggers asked me for a record of the wines and the food, so here was a run down on what we had (follow the links for information on the wines if you want more information).

For Starters:Lunch at Dinastia Vivanco

JAMÓN IBÉRICO (the best kind of jamon)
COUS-COUS DE HORTALIZAS CON FOIE CARAMELIZADO (a dish of cous-cous with delicate fois gras on top, caramelized balasmic vinegar and chives- yum! Check our Ryan’s excellent photo)
VERDURITAS A LA PLANCHA (a welcome vegetal dish of asparagus, spring onions, tomato and LOTS of olive oil)
CROQUETAS DE JAMON (light and fluffy ham and potato croquettes)

To Drink:

VIVANCO VIURA MALVASIA 2007
VIVANCO ROSADO 2007
DINASTIA VIVANCO CRIANZA 2005 (this was my first taste of the 2005 vintage, which has even more violet and blackcurrant aromas)

Main Course, either:

CHULETILLAS ASADAS (lovely Rioja style lamb chops, cut thin and cooked over charcoal and vine cuttings)
MERLUZA A LA PLANCHA (hake, delicately grilled)

To Drink:

DINASTIA VIVANCO RESERVA 2001
COLECCION VIVANCO 4 VARIETALES 2005

BloggersAfter lunch we went for a group photo (courtesy of Ryan and his excellent camera skills & a long lense), followed by a whirlwind tour of the museum. I say “whirlwind”, as a comfortable visit to the museum takes over 2 hours and I was trying to get everyone through in less than 1 hour. It is a shame I had to rush it as I heard over and over again how different people found separate elements of the museum fascinating to them. Cristina loved the wine aroma experience fascinating, Ricard loved the films, Thomas was explaining the ancient presses, Oscar loved the archaeology … I apologise again for my repeated use of the phrase “I’m sorry, but we really MUST move on!

EXCITING WINES:

This was all so we could get to the winery to meet Rafael Vivanco and taste some highly unusual wines: single varietal wines from the Coleccion Vivanco range including the 2005 vintage Garnacha & Graciano as well as 2007 vintage barrel samples of Graciano, Garnacha, Tempranillo and even Mazuelo.

We bloggers rarely get to sample wines pre-release, and certainly not individual components of wines like these, and I trust this was another unique experience for participants to take away.

ATTRACTIVE REGION:

I will write up our visits to other wineries separately as there were great stories on Sunday, but I do believe that everyone who came to the conference went home with a different perspective on the wines, food, people, landscape, tourism and quality of life in the whole Rioja region. It is a region that we all know, bloggers and readers alike, but very few have visited, and I was very happy to hear how much my new friends had enjoyed it. Thank you also to La Rioja Turismo for working with us to spread this message and sponsoring the EWBC event.

All in all, I trust that we found the perfect place for our event.

Please visit the conference site to see how our discussion on blogging continues, and visit Vinus TV to see some of the interviews and proceedings, and maybe even follow a few new bloggers to see what they made of it. However, check back here in the next few days for a round up of 3 other wineries we visited.

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