Bloggers give Penticton WBC a winning score

Allison Markin said the writers who came to Penticton for the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference went away impressed.

Coffee was the drink of choice for Rebecca Rader and other diners at breakfast Saturday at Gyro Park for the 2013 North American Wine Bloggers’ Conference in Penticton. Organizers say licensing an outdoor event in a public space is too difficult in B.C.

Coffee was the drink of choice for Rebecca Rader and other diners at breakfast Saturday at Gyro Park for the 2013 North American Wine Bloggers’ Conference in Penticton. Organizers say licensing an outdoor event in a public space is too difficult in B.C.

Allison Markin said the writers who came to the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference went away impressed.

It really shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, Markin, along with Tourism Penticton and lots of help from the community, has spent the last two-and-a-half years working to produce exactly that effect on the nearly 250 bloggers that attended the conference.

And, she said, they’ve already started tweeting and writing blog posts about their experiences here. One example of that is Tom Wark (fermentationwineblog.com), a wine writer from northern California. In a post labelled “Top 10 things I learned a the Wine Bloggers Conference,” he wrote, amongst other things that “Penticton, British Columbia really is a must visit for serious wine lovers, and its Penticton Lakeside Resort was the most beautiful venue yet for a Wine Bloggers Conference.”

Many of the bloggers who attended, according to Markin, are saying it was the best Wine Bloggers Conference yet.

This was the sixth annual conference, and the first to be held in such close proximity to the vineyards.

Markin said there are two main impressions that the bloggers came away with. One was the spectacular scenery, both out their hotel room windows and on the Friday afternoon excursions which took them out into the five different parts of the South Okanagan Similkameen wine country.

“I’ve never seen so many pictures of beautiful sprawling Okanagan vistas posted on social media,” said Markin. They were also impressed, not just with the wines, but with the chefs and their culinary creations.

“Many came to Canada thinking we were all donuts, coffee and poutine, but have gone away with a completely different impression of Okanagan food culture,” said Markin.

The online buzz generated by the conference was considerable and should result in a major boost to the profile for the region.

“The last time I checked the Twitter count and the number of impressions, it was more than two million and the tweets are still coming in. I think we could be beyond three million by the time all is said and done,” said Markin. “This reinforces our story that we are a fantastic wine region and people should be coming to visit us.”

Some of the bloggers did, however, make note of B.C.’s restrictive liquor laws. Wark even included them on his top 10 list.

“The liquor laws of British Columbia are insanely anti-consumer and terribly protectionist. The citizens of this province deserve much better and B.C. wine bloggers should lead the charge to change the laws,” wrote Wark.

And that is something that Markin has high on her to-do list, in the aftermath of the conference, to take the blogger feedback and impressions, and use some of the content they have created to increase the presence of the Free My Grapes (freemygrapes.ca) campaign.

“If we could modernize our laws, we could do something even better in the future. That for me is the next step,” said Markin.