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

Saturday, 22 October 2011

European Wine Bloggers' Conference 2011 (#EWBC): Last exit from Brescia

George Taber giving his keynore specch

Reflections on the 4th European Wine Bloggers Conference: 14th-16th October 2011
We reckon we were probably the last of the EWBC caravan to leave Brescia heading to Varese to stay with one of Robert McIntosh's old primary teachers. She refused to take any responsibility for his jokes! Before we left around 2pm on Thursday we enjoyed a plate of salami, pata negra and some cheese at the Elite Café just down from our welcoming hotel – the Ambasciatori. Over lunch we made a list of the good and bad points of this year’s conference.

Overall the good far outweighed the bad.

What was good:
  • The pre-conference information, the fantastic welcome and the convivial and collaborative atmosphere established by Gabriella, Ryan and Robert.

  • Storytelling as this year’s theme – this was a really good focus.

  • The keynote speakers - all interesting and thought-provoking.

  • The conference venue, especially the main conference hall in the church of Santa Maria.

  • The Austrian sweet wine tasting on 14th October.

  • Reliable Wifi at the conference venue.

  • Our Friday evening dinner at Berlucchi. Lovely meal and it was good that the various producers each had a table at the dinner and we were joined by representatives.

  • Our excellent Sunday trip to Ca’ del Bosco and Monte Rossa.

  • Our post trip to Chianti Classico – excellent organisation, very interesting range of visits, many wonderful wines and great food.

What was bad:
  • The conference catering company.
    Lunches at the conference centre: caterers tried to be too clever. With some 200 to feed they should have offered just a few dishes and three or more queues so that people were served quickly.
    Worst of all was the disastrous gala dinner. Although the caterers have apologised, they should have admitted that they were not up to the job of providing a meal for 200+ people in the Loggia. They should have checked the facilities and planned accordingly.
  • The venue for the gala dinner was magnificent but ... a single toilet for 200 was woefully inadequate.
  • The 'Bring your own bottle' dinner was a great way of getting to know our fellow participants but the finger food wasn’t very good value. Given the amount of wine something more substantial would have been more absorbent

  • Waiting around for coaches, especially as participants were frequently urged to be on time!

What we would have changed
  • We would have dispensed with the brief tour round the cellar before the Friday night dinner – arriving at 8.30 and with 50 people or so visiting the cellars was pretty much a waste of time. Much better to have a given us a welcoming glass of Franciacorta, something to nibble and then spent 10 minutes or so introducing the company and its wines before passing through to dinner.
  • It would have been good to have had some more small group sessions where the issues raised in the main sessions could have been explored further, although we appreciate that the venue didn’t have many small rooms available.

Our warm thanks to the Vrazon triumverate – Gabriella, Ryan and Robert – and to all the sponsors that made the conference possible.


Lizzy said...

Thank you Jim, I totally agree with all your points! Sadly, in Italy there are yet catering services who don't realize and accept their own limits... And so they believe they can do anything.


Gabriella Opaz said...

Great post Jim. I can't help but agree with you on all of your points. We agree that the catering wasn't up to snuff, despite genuine efforts, and we're already in the process of fixing this issue for next year. As for the buses, though I agree wholeheartedly, getting a bus into Brescia is a bit like fitting 220 bloggers into a clown car - a true feat. However, we hear you and will work to get this issue resolved as well. Finally, the tour before Friday's dinner, no comment, I couldn't agree more :) Thank you so much for a fabulous and objective post!!

Jim's Loire said...

Thanks Gabriella. For the Friday night tour this was really more of a general comment – less can be more!