Allison Markin is usually a busy person, but she’s reaching new heights this week.
“Everything is ready to go. I have some wine shipments I am praying will get here but the conference itself is shaping up very nicely,” said Markin, who is organizing the Penticton end of the 2013 wine bloggers conference.
Markin said they are expecting nearly 250 wine bloggers from across Canada and the U.S.
“I was hoping we would have a few more, but the majority that are coming are very engaged wine bloggers. They are very keen to learn about a new region,” said Markin. “There are some very prolific wine bloggers coming.”
Among those bloggers are people like Frank Morgan (drinkwhatyoulike.wordpress.com) and Thea Dwelle (lusciouslushes.com). Morgan, according to Markin, is an aerospace engineer by day and a prolific and popular wine blogger by night, while Dwelle makes her living blogging about wine.
“She is quirky and has a different style of writing. She has been posting probably more than I have about the conference,” said Markin. “She has built a pretty good niche for herself.”
Markin expects the conference attendees will be “blown away” by both the conference content and the location.
“They’ve never been to any location like Penticton. Last year was in Portland, they were in the middle of a big city. We had to drive and hour to go out to the wine country,” said Markin. “And the ones that are engaging in the Facebook group right now are posting pictures and are super excited to get here and try B.C. wine. Most of them have never been to Canada, let alone B.C.”
Attendees will spend June 6-8 learning about social media and blogging, while at the same time experiencing wine country and “live Tweeting” as they go. The Penticton Lakeside Resort will be the hub of the conference as the host hotel, with a packed schedule of seminars, wine tastings and menus overseen by the resort’s award-winning chef, Chris Remington.
“They are all getting exposed to 60 different wines at our live blogging on Friday and Saturday,” said Markin, adding that the bloggers will also be getting out and about in the region, with five different excursions.
“They don’t get to pick a region, but they pick a theme. Bottleneck Drive, Naramata, Oliver, Osoyoos and the Similkameen are hosting those excursions,” said Markin. “So the bloggers will go on a bus, and they won’t know where they are going, but they will be exposed to one of our micro regions.”
Along with B.C. wines, the conference attendees will also be exposed to some wines from a little farther away. Wines of Uruguay is a sponsor, as is Rueda, a region in Spain, and Greece.
“While a lot of the wine and food tasting is going to be B.C. focused, there are also a few international groups,” said Markin. “That happens every year at the conference; the focus really is on the host region, but then there are little pockets of “here is a new region to try.”
Markin has fielded calls from Uruguay wineries, who are eager to break into the Canadian market.
“I don’t think they have a huge industry just yet, but one of the good things about the wine bloggers conference is that they give some of these lesser known regions a chance to come and get the exposure,” said Markin. “It’s probably one of the first times they will be able to come to Canada and show some of their wines.”
This is the first time in its six-year history the Wine Bloggers’ Conference has left the United States. It has been a three year journey bringing it to Penticton. Since the bloggers vote on where to hold the conference, Tourism Penticton and All She Wrote, Markin’s social media consulting firm put in some serious work lobbying for votes, engaging the bloggers through a variety of social networks and inviting a few bloggers for a preview visit.
Prior conferences have resulted in double digit increases in wine tourism, and an economic impact in the range of $2 million, not to mention trending worldwide on Twitter bringing massive exposure to the host region.
“A number of community partners are planning events throughout the South Okanagan, and we’re certain the content of the conference will be the best it’s ever been,” said Jessie Campbell, CEO of Tourism Penticton.
The official conference website is at www.winebloggersconference.org/america/, and the action can be followed on Twitter under the hashtag #wbc13.