Marques de Riscal (hotel)
So I’m back in the real world – the one that has lots of washing (hooray for sunny weather), meal plans to write and a toddler with a cast iron will (not quite as cast iron as his mother’s, unfortunately for him).
But a week ago I was heading from Logroño in Spain’s north, back to Madrid to fly home after a whirlwind trip to the Digital Wine Communications Conference (DWCC).
I’ll save the hard core wine geekery for posts on Cellared, but I thought that Eating Adelaide deserved at least a brief overview.
This year was the conference’s sixth incarnation. It started life in 2008 as the European Wine Bloggers’ Conference (EWBC): a very grand name for a motley group of about 30 mostly UK and European bloggers who holed themselves up in a hotel in Rioja and … um … probably drank some wine.
But six years, one rebranding and at least one baby later, the trio of original organisers, Gabriella Opaz, Ryan Opaz and Robert McIntosh, were able to offer around 300 participants two packed days of conference, several days of side activities and a final grand tasting hosted by none other than Julia Harding MW and José Vouillamoz (yes, I don’t know how to pronounce that either). If you’re not a wine enthusiast who’s getting excited by reading that – don’t worry – trust me, those are some impressive names!
A series of pre-conference press trips was held to places like Priorat, Porto and Rioja but time constraints meant I missed out on these. My conference kicked off with a day visit to Dinastia Vivanco, a winery which is home to not only a very impressive tourist set up, but also a collection of rare and interesting grape vines called the Bacchus Garden.
The conference proper was a very hectic, jam packed two days. It was impossible to fit in everything I wanted to do so at the end of the first day I felt very frustrated that I’d missed out on a lot. However, once I recovered from that I was determined to pare down my schedule for the second day to ensure I didn’t miss anything.
For the sake of brevity, I’ll pick just one highlight: the amari masterclass held by Andrew Quady, an American vermouth producer. I keep on thinking I should get in to apéritifs and digestifs but I never quite manage it. This class showcased some really top notch vermouths and we were all provided with base wine and tinctures to have a go at blending our own. It definitely changed my perception of this class of wines (one of the reasons I am always keen to taste/experience wines I think I don’t like!) and the interactive nature of the workshop made it very different from what you typically experience at a conference.
The final day was another winery trip: this time to three different wineries. My choice of trip included the Marqués de Riscal winery, perhaps best known for its Frank Gehry designed hotel (see the picture above).
It was a really spectacular way to wrap up the conference!