Sunday, October 31, 2010

The 2010 European Wine Bloggers Conference (EWBC) in Vienna

Pictures: My 2010 EWBC Badge and Schloss Schoenbrunn in Vienna

The 2010 European Wine Bloggers Conference (EWBC) took place in Vienna, Austria, from October 22 to 24, with optional wine region excursions from October 25 to 26. Wine bloggers, journalists, wine industry professionals and social media innovators joined together to discuss the convergence between the culture of wine and the internet and to taste and enjoy Austrian wine and food during 5 days full of seminars, wine tastings and vineyard visits. All in all, 30 different countries were represented by the 200 participants.

Founded and organized by Gabriella and Ryan Opaz of Catavino, and Robert McIntosh of The Wine Conversation, the 2010 EWBC was the third European conference, following the 2008 EWBC in La Rioja, Spain, and the 2009 EWBC in Lisbon, Portugal. In addition there has been a number of US conferences, with the North American Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla in June of this year attracting over 300 wine bloggers.

The 2010 EWBC took place in the Schoenbrunn Palace, which, together with its ancillary buildings and extensive park, is by virtue of its long and colorful history one of the most important cultural monuments in Austria.

Pictures: Gabriella and Ryan Opaz of Catavino, and Robert McIntosh of The Wine Conversation in the Main Meeting Hall

The event would not have been possible without the generous support of several sponsors, notably the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, Wienwein, an association of the 6 leading wineries of Vienna, and regional wine associations from Burgenland, Traisental-Kamptal-Kremstal and Weinviertel.


The first day started out with a walk-around tasting ; there were about 20 tables. Among them was Klaus Wittauer (KWSELECTION) from Virginia, one of the leading importers of Austrian wines into the US.

Picture: Klaus Wittauer (KWSELECTION) from Virginia at the Walk-Around Tasting

In the first key note speech, Elin McCoy, Bloomberg, author of the book The Emperor of Wine: The Rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr. and the Reign of American Taste talked about the change from the old system of wine criticism (the ivory tower critics) to the new system of wine citizen bloggers. The younger generation is now used to sharing opinions and tasting notes with their peers on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Clearly Elin sees the era of the wine critic gurus ending.

This was followed by a various streams of smaller workshops on subjects as: The Basics of Social Media. How Audio and Video can transform your blog, How to develop a global online community for your personal brand, How to track and measure all your social media activity, Sharing through Twitter, Facebook and other social networks, Gadgets and technology: iPhone, Ustream, QIK, Twitterific, Tweetdeck, Google Alerts etc.

In the final session Willi Klinger, head of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, brilliantly lead a technical tasting of Austrian wine. The vineyards in Austria cover 51,000 hectares which generally lie in the east and southeast of the country. Austria as a wine producing country is divided into 4 wine growing regions of which Wien, Austria’s capital, makes up 700 hectares of vineyards. In the tasting seminar, the Rotes Haus Gemischter Satz 2009, by Gerhard Lobner, was voted the crowd’s favorite, and listed online with UK wine retailer Naked Wines.

The evening ended in a Heurigen, a traditional wine tavern, were the winemakers group WienWein offered a fabulous dinner and presented their wines.

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Fritz Wieninger from Weingut Wieninger, Vienna


Again a series of workshops, as well as round table discussions and another possibility for exploring Austrian wine at the walk-around tasting.

Robert McIntosh of The Wine Conversation moderated a round table with George Sandeman from Wine in Moderation, Ken Payton, Founder of Reign of Terroir, and Adam Watson-Brown, Head of Sector of the Directorate-General Information Society & Media of the European Commission on the influence wine communicators have upon the consumer. Issues that came up included the practical experiences of the Wine in Moderation campaign, the future impact of EU regulations on online wine communication, and ethical issues that come from being a citizen wine critic.

Julia Sevenich, Wine Publicists and Author of Uncorked in the Alps moderated a round table with Rowan Gormley, Founder and CEO of Naked Wines, Evelyn Resnick, Author of Wine Brands, and Andre Ribeirinho, Founder and CEO of on how the growing number of bloggers and online wine lovers is changing how we buy and sell wine.

In the second key-note speech, Evan Schnittman, Managing Director of Group Sales and Marketing, Print and Digital, at Bloomsbury, talked about the past, the present and the future of digital and print publishing. His thesis is that print and digital can co-exist.

The last session was a technical tasting of Chilean wine. Chile – a land of beautiful contrasts, rich in cultural diversity, and producing some of most exciting and naturally organic wines in the world Chile’s wine regions lie to the north and south of the capital city Santiago. Historically famous for its rich Cabernets and Merlots, modern Chile is now also being praised for its ability to impress with Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Syrah and its very own red grape Carmenère – deep in color and rich in anti-oxidants.

Towards the end of the conference’s formal sessions, the organizers Robert McIntosh, Gabriella and Ryan Opaz announced that they are setting up a new series of awards for on-line journalism called Born Digital. The awards will recognize writers and artists for text, video and audio articles online. The judging panel will be made up of wine industry professionals, including Jancis Robinson and Elin McCoy.

The evening ended with a fare-well party at the trendy Vienna restaurant and wine bar Zum Oesterreicher, with outstanding finger food and an opportunity to taste a huge selection of Austria’s top wines.

Picture: Willi Klinger, Head of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, Closing the Conference at the Zum Oesterreicher


We split up and went on 3 EWBC conference trips, to the Weinviertel, the Burgenland and the Danube region. I chose the Weinviertel trip and will report separately about it.

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Ewald Gruber (Weingut Gruber), Weinviertel

Monday and Tuesday

Participants had the option to choose among 2 2010 EWBC post-conference trips. First, Kremstal DAC, Kamptal DAC and Traisental DAC - this trip was supposed to show us Austria’s new origin-typical wines: Grüner Veltliner and Riesling from the Kremstal, Kamptal and Traisental DAC-regions. The first day began at the Stift Göttweig monastery, followed by a tasting of Kremstal DAC wines. Then, in the romantic region of Traisental, participants tasted freshly picked grapes and could see how they were processed. A tasting of Grüner Veltliner and Riesling musts in different stages of fermentation helped participants to more about these varieties before tasting Traisental DAC wines. The next day featured a visit to the Kamptal, where participants assisted in the harvest at the Heiligenstein, the most famous single vineyard of the region. Afterwards, Kamptal DAC wines were waiting for them in the famous wine museum, Loisium.

Second, Burgenland - Leithaberg DAC, Mittelburgenland DAC, Eisenberg DAC. The Pannonian Plains of Hungary meet the last foothills of the Alps on Lake Neusiedl in Burgenland. Just as the landscape is diverse and stunning – so also are the wines of Burgenland. These encompass not only the dry, mineral, vibrantly structured white wines from the slopes of the Leithaberg, but also exquisite sweet wines from the shores of Lake Neusiedl. Burgenland is also Austria’s predominant source for superb red wines, in particular from the indigenous Blaufränkisch variety. On this trip participants had the chance to compare the inimitable terroirs of the Burgenland appellations Leithaberg DAC, Mittelburgenland DAC, and Eisenberg DAC, encounter state-of-the-art winery architecture and meet numerous vintners. Because there is no end to food pairing options with the wines of Burgenland, participants had the possibility to experience this versatility with a hearty, rustic meal in regional wine tavern as well as in a fine restaurant with haute cuisine. I chose the Burgenland trip and will report about it separately.

Pictures: Christian G.E.Schiller with Franz Reinhard Weninger (Weingut Weninger), Silvia Prieler (Weingut Prieler), and Stephan Oberpfalzer (Stephano Das-Wein-Gut)all Burgenland

End Notes

The 2011 European Wine Bloggers Conference will be in Franciacorta (Italy) next year from October 14 to 16.

Follow the Twitter Hashtag #ewbc.

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Wine ratings: Austria - Falstaff Top Red Wines 2009/2010

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A Master Sommelier became a Web 2.0 Digital Sommelier - An Interview with Germany's Hendrik Thoma (Part 1)

A Master Sommelier Became a Web 2.0 Sommelier - An Interview with Hendrik Thoma (Part 2)

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  1. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing. Now I regret it even more, that I was unable to attend. Seems a great chance of learning more was missed...

  2. Heike, it was indeed a wonderful event. The 2011 EWBC is coming up in Italy! I have already made a reservation. See you there!? Cheers