Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Friday, 30 October 2015

The 8th Digital Wine Communications Conference – Plodiv, Bulgaria


The 8th annual DWCC/ex-EWBC conference, which was held in Plodiv, has now finished.

It is an heroic feat to organize an annual conference each time in a new country and I guess that Bulgaria was amongst the most challenging of the eight editions so far. A challenge to get new sponsors, hotel deals, conference facilities etc.

The DWCC started life in Rioja in the summer of 2008 with less than 40 attendees. I started going the next year as I had launched Jim’s Loire in late August 2008. The 2009 edition was in Lisbon followed by Vienna (2010), Brescia – Franciacorta (2011), Izmir (2012), a return to Rioja (2013) and then Montreux in 2014.

I have now been to seven editions. Only the three organisers – Gabriella and Ryan Opaz and Robert McIntosh of Vrazon - have now been to all eight.

It is no coincidence I fancy that the two most successful editions – Izmir and Montreux have had a substantial Swiss involvement. Nor is it surprising that the least successful, especially in terms of catering, was in Brescia where famously the gala dinner collapsed halfway through as the caterers just couldn’t cope.

Apparently for this latest edition in Plodiv it proved difficult to get things agreed, so the announcement of the venue and then all the other details were revealed considerably later for many of the past editions. I fancy that sorting out the arrangements took a lot of time and energy, so that some routine admin tasks, like a list of participants at the conference, rather fell by the wayside.

I will admit a slight and growing disillusionment as the conference approached. However, this was dispelled during the event as the talks etc. proved to be more interesting than I they appeared on the programme.

Highlights included Richard Hemming’s keynote on  books published since 1903. on his research into wine books, published over a 100-year period, which he submitted as his research for his MW. Although you might think the internet would have sounded a death knell for published wine books the opposite has been the case with a huge increase in self-published books. However the average length of a book has declined sharply. In 2004 only 5% of books had less than 100 pages; by 2013, 47% of books had less than 100 pages!

The increased number of self-published wine books are, Richard found, of variable quality. Some are of high quality, such as Wink Lorch's book on the Jura and Neal Martin's on Pomerol, but some are of dubious merit. 

Martin Wiederkehr

Afternoon sessions: Friday
Wineries, journalists and bloggers (1) + how to be famous (2)
I attended two good sessions in the afternoon with interesting presentations from Martin Wiederkehr, DG of La Cave de Genève, and Richard Siddle, ex-editor of harpers, in the first session. There followed a great presentation from Felicity Carter, editor-in-chief of Meininger's Wine Business, essentially on how to pitch stories and to make them interesting to editors. She stressed the need to think outside the wine box.   

Felicity illustrated her talk with news stories, two of which she was unable to pursue as wine journalists just weren't interested in exploring them. 

I enjoyed the Nerello Mascalese Etna Masterclass – a fascinating area and one I hope to visit soon.

 Giampiero Nadali: @Nerello Mascalese Etna Masterclass

Of the evening events Thursday's BYOB was as usual good fun, despite heavy rain during the evening. The Friday night visits to local wineries proved to be a considerable lottery.

The food at Saturday night's Gala Dinner proved to be more of the lunchtime fare served on Friday and Saturday - Bulgarian salads and kebabs. It was good, however, that this evening featured the announcement of the winners of the revived Born Digital Awards. But, in view of the Champagne Jayne verdict, ironic that Moët sponsored the Champagne reception that opened the evening. Congratulations to all the winners and runners up.

Next year's venue is likely remain a secret for sometime yet. I trust for the organisers' sanity that 2016 will be somewhere less challenging than Bulgaria, however warm and welcoming though the Bulgarians' hospitality was!

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