Over 350 hobby winemakers from across North America descended on Sonoma County on May 16 & 17, 2008 for the sold-out WineMaker Magazine Conference. This inaugural event featured an all-star cast of winemaking professionals, WineMaker writers and hobbyists leading 30 different seminars over two days covering the full spectrum of the hobby. The attendees arrived from 41 different states and provinces and enjoyed the chance to meet fellow winemakers from across North America while trading winemaking stories and advice.
Two entertaining and informative keynote speakers anchored each day of the conference. Joel Peterson, winemaker at Ravenswood Winery, enthusiastically encouraged attendees to remain passionate about their winemaking and to not forget the beauty of simplicity and creativity when crafting wine in smaller batches during the first day. Alison Crowe, WineMaker's own Wine Wizard and a Napa-based professional winemaker, transformed her popular magazine Q & A column into a live format and fielded audience questions during the second day's keynote lunch address.
After the first day's seminars wrapped up, a tasting party kicked off overflowing with hundreds of bottles of hobby wine. Five northern California home winemaking clubs were on hand to pour their members' wines for attendees. In addition, wine kit manufacturers and others kept glasses filled with samples to try. Attendees also had the chance to swap their own wines with other hobbyists and try local cheeses and foods.
A resilient crowd of attendees showed up bright and early after the previous night's tasting party on day two for the three seminars starting at 9:30 a.m. "If you had asked me if over one hundred people would show up for a talk on wine chemistry early on a Saturday morning I would have said you're crazy," said Bob Peak, one of that morning's first round of speakers. Attendees were treated to a diverse collection of seminars all day long ranging from Choosing Yeast Strains to a Wine Defects Tasting that filled the seminar room with funky smells of rotten eggs and sulfur.
The conference finished the second night with an awards dinner for this year's WineMaker International Amateur Wine Competition. Attendees found out first who won medals in this year's competition and all winners in attendance came up to receive their awards in person while getting a well-deserved round of applause.
Audio recordings for a selection of the seminars presented at this conference are available from the WineMaker webstore by clicking here or by calling 802-362-3981.