Hundreds of hobby winemakers came to San Diego, California from May 17 to 20 for our 11th annual WineMaker Magazine Conference. The conference featured local professional Southern California winemakers, WineMaker writers, industry experts, and top hobbyists leading over two dozen different seminars over the two main days covering the full spectrum of the hobby. The attendees came from over 30 different states and provinces and as far away as the Philippines to enjoy the chance to trade advice and stories with fellow winemakers.
This year we again had a record number of attendees participate in our popular pre-and post-conference boot camps with full-day, hands-on classes, which allowed attendees to take advantage of four full days of learning about making wine. We added a boot camp on advanced winemaking from grapes to the mix on top of past favorite boot camps focusing on wine testing, grape winemaking, and growing grapes. We also ran full-day tours both before and after the conference for attendees and guests to wineries in San Diego County as well as the nearby Temecula Valley.
The main conference featured workshops including local White Labs staff leading attendees through a side-by-side tasting of the same Pinot Grigio must fermented with different yeast strains. This year also had a hands-on Wine and Cheese Pairing workshop with Pamela Zorn from Wine and Whey in Denver, Colorado where all conference goers tasted samples of four wines each accompanied by two different cheeses – one a good pairing and the other not so much. We also held several question and answer seminars on advanced and basic troubleshooting as well as grape growing and kit winemaking. The conference continued offering a selection of different seminar choices for attendees to choose from across a broad variety of topics several times each day. From kits to grape growing to techniques for the fresh grape winemaker, there were subjects for every level and style of winemaker.
Two keynote presentations anchored each day. Friday, Jon McPherson of South Coast Winery talked more about the winemaking scene in Southern Claifornia and his own efforts to craft award-winning wines. Saturday we had four of our WIneMaker Columnists take the stage to debate various winemaking hot topics.
After Friday’s seminars ended, a tasting party kicked off with attendees bringing hundreds of their own bottles of wine to share with other hobbyists. Wineries from the nearby Ramona Valley AVA also poured samples late into the night as attendees tasted wines, shared winemaking stories, and watched a fire dancer during the Tiki-themed party.
Saturday evening attendees found out first who won medals in the 2018 WineMaker International Amateur Wine Competition and hundreds of medals were handed out to members in the audience as they came forward to some well-deserved applause from the audience.
The 2019 WineMaker Magazine Conference will head for the very first time to the Midwest where we’ll be on the shores of Lake Michigan in beautiful Traverse City, Michigan. Our 12th annual conference will be located at the Grand Traverse Resort. Traverse City is home to two different AVAs each on peninsulas jutting into Lake Michigan with lots of wineries to explore and great wines to sample. We are already working hard on next year’s program. You can lock in your spot for next year and save right now by visiting winemakermag.com. Full program details will be in the December-January issue of WineMaker and posted on winemakermag.com in early November. 2019 WineMaker Conference information here!