2009 WineMaker Magazine Conference


The second annual WineMaker Magazine Conference took place on May 15
and 16 this year at the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa in the
heart of wine country.  This conference, hosted by WineMaker magazine
and supported by our sponsors, brought together an all-star cast of
experts in winemaking and viticulture.  A sold-out crowd of over 400
total attendees hailing from 34 different states, 3 Canadian provinces,
Puerto Rico, and Mexico spent two days learning from expert speakers
and meeting other hobby winemakers.

Each day of the conference
was packed with 13 different seminars. On the first day, topics
included “pH and Acidity” with Pat Henderson, “The Fine Art of Fining”
with Bob Peak, and a roundtable discussion focusing on Cabernet
Sauvignon featuring three local Napa-based professional winemakers.  In
the afternoon, there was a wine component tasting, led by Tim
Vandergrift of Winexpert.  This session was extremely helpful for the
home winemaker, as essential wine components such as sugar, oak, and
tannin were tasted with actual wines, helping to identify the flavors
and educating the palate.  In the evening, WineMaker hosted a wine
tasting night; California home winemaking clubs and sponsors poured
their wines for all to taste. A highlight this year was the wine swap
table, where individual attendees could leave a bottle of their own
wine, and take a bottle from a fellow attendee to sample.  Much of the
sampling happened directly at the event, and hobbyists were
enthusiastic about trying each other’s wines and offering feedback. 

Each of the two days featured a keynote speaker during
lunch. On Friday Michael Beaulac, Winemaker at Pine Ridge Vineyards
located in the nearby Stags Leap District of the Napa Valley, talked
about keys to producing great wine from his own experiences. On
Saturday four of WineMaker’s long-running columnists gathered on stage
to collectively field audience questions. The panel included Alison
Crowe, WineMaker’s “Wine Wizard” and a professional Napa winemaker; Wes
Hagen, Vineyard Manager and Winemaker for Clos Pepe Vineyards and
“Backyard Vines” writer; Daniel Pambianchi, WineMaker’s “Techniques”
columnist and Technical Editor and General Manager of Maleta Estate
Winery in Ontario; and Tim Vandergrift, WineMaker’s “Wine Kit” author
and Technical Services Manager for Winexpert.  The capacity crowd
enjoyed this question and answer session by peppering the columnists
with a broad range of winemaking and grape growing questions.    

Attendees also enjoyed the opportunity to walk through the
sponsor exhibit area between seminars to check out the latest
winemaking gear and supplies while speaking with sponsors. Many
sponsors had samples of wine and other products to try as well as
hosting several on-site raffles for free wine kits and equipment such
as a new barrel.   

The second day’s schedule of 13 more
seminars started off early on Saturday morning with topics such as
“Vineyard Pest Management” and “Cold vs. Warm Climate Red Grape
Techniques.”  The large afternoon workshop session was a hands-on
tasting led by Jef L. Stebben.  For the second year in a row, Jef
provided some doctored samples of “wine defects”, allowing attendees to
smell and taste common mistakes in winemaking, as well as how to
identify and understand the defect should it ever occur in their home

The conference concluded with an awards dinner for
the 2009 WineMaker International Amateur Wine Competition.  This year’s
competition was the largest yet, with a record 4,474 wines judged in
April.  Conference attendees were the first to find out the results of
this year’s competition.  Winners who were in attendance came up to
receive their awards in person while being applauded by their peers. 

Audio recordings of this year’s seminars are now available from the WineMaker webstore by clicking here, or by calling 802-362-3981,
ext. 106.     

The 2010 WineMaker Magazine Conference will take
place May 21 and 22 in Stevenson, Washington, in the Columbia River
Gorge area.  Look for details soon in upcoming issues of WineMaker as
well as on winemakermag.com. We look forward to seeing you and tasting
your wines in 2010 in the Pacific Northwest!