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Virginia Wine Chat Anyone?  Or, Announcing #VAWineChat!

Last month I had the occasion to participate in the monthly Washington state virtual wine tasting hosted by Sean Sullivan of Washington Wine Report (on Twitter: @WAWineReport).  I happened to be in North Carolina along with Bill Pollard from Wild 4 Washington Wine and he brought the featured wine of the Washington virtual tasting with him.

As I tasted and tweeted about the Milbrandt Vineyards Pinot Grigio along with Bill and a dozen other tasters virtually, I remembered back a few years ago to the earlier days of the #VAWine Twitter community.

I’m sure many of my fellow early Virginia wine blogger folks that have been active on Twitter for a few years — @VAWineTime, @CellarBlog, @WineCompass, @SwirlSipSnark, @VCUSpoon, @TheOther46, @WineHarlots, @Raelinn_Wine, @SuzieLin, @TLColson, @GrapeEnvyGuy, et.al. — remember how vibrant, educational, and entertaining discussions in our little #VAWine corner of the Twitterverse were.

Back in the ‘ol days (not long ago in Twitter years), Jennifer Breaux-Blosser (@BreauxVineyards), Kat from Keswick Vineyards (@KeswickVineyard), Jordan from Tarara Winery (@TararaWinery), Lori Corcoran (@CorkysFarm), Derek from Gadino Cellars (@Gadino_Cellars), the folks at Hillsborough Vineyards (@HillsboroWine), and several others were on Twitter almost nightly dropping wine knowledge and chatting about a range of Virginia wine topics.

Realize everyone’s busy with life, kids, winemaking, work, blogger fatigue, or whatever, but I miss the interaction and community and would like to bring everyone together (at least monthly) for a focused and educational discussion about a wine, winery, winemaker or region of Virginia for #VAWineChat.

NEWVAWineChatLogo

This would include the aforementioned folks as well as all the newer bloggers and consumers now active on Twitter, as well as all the Virginia wineries that have been most active on Twitter over the last couple years — like Annefield Vineyards’ co-founder Stephen Ballard (@AnnefieldWine), the folks at Early Mountain Vineyards (@EarlyMountain), Christine Vrooman from Ankida Ridge (@AnkidaRidge), Brian at Barrel Oak (@BarrelOak), the team at Rappahannock Cellars (@RCellars), Barboursville (@OctagonVA), Ingleside Winery (@InglesideWinery), Generals Ridge (@GeneralsRidge) and many others I did not list here.

So, anyone else up for a monthly Virginia Wine Chat?  Given the strong interest from the Virginia wine folks and blogger I’ve emailed, looks like many others are interested in a regular discussion of various Virginia wine topics.

Virginia Wine Chat will follow the same format as the larger, global #WineChat that takes place via Twitter each Wednesday evening — a wine-related topic is selected well in advance by the organizers or a guest host, and participants from across the US and other countries tweet thoughts, facts or questions about the given topic by using the #WineChat hashtag.

On any given Wednesday evening, dozens of wine tweeters join in the chat about a particular region, grape variety, a style of wine/cider (like last week’s winechat about cider hosted by blogger and wine/cidermaker, Jason Phelps) or any other related wine related subject.  Last month, Bonny Doon founder and original Rhone Rhanger, Randall Grahm, was the guest on #WineChat where over 100 people joined in the chat —  that spanned a range of topics like terroir, farming practices, Randall’s winemaking philosophy, and Bonny Doon wines — resulting in robust discussion and thousands of tweets.

States like Texas, Washington and British Columbia, Canada also host similar weekly or monthly online educational wine chats via Twitter.  The only difference with Virginia Wine Chat is that we will obviously focus on Virginia wines, winemakers, wineries, regions or other related Virginia wine topics, and use the #VAWineChat hashtag.

So, for those interested, what is the ideal frequency for #VAWineChat — every two weeks or once per month?  Are Thursdays the best nights?  Is 7pm a good time?  Is 30 minutes or 60 minutes ideal for such a virtual chat?

I don’t know what frequency, day, time or length works best, but lets get it started and work out the kinks as we go.

I believe one VA Wine Chat per month is the most practical frequency, but lets start with bi-weekly chats to see how it goes.   Here is the Virginia Wine Chat schedule so far (held on Thursdays, 7pm eastern time, for now).

  • May 2, 2013 — Virginia Viognier. Seems appropriate to officially kick-off the inaugural Virginia Wine Chat (#VAWineChat) with Virginia’s official state grape.  Virginia Rhone Ranger and winemaker at Tarara Winery, Jordan Harris (on Twitter: @TararaWinery), and Keswick Vineyards winemaker Stephen Barnard (on Twitter: @KeswickVineyard), will be joining us online to taste and tweet about Virginia’s signature grape.  Grab a bottle, or two, of your favorite Virginia Viognier and join us on Twitter at 7pm.  I have emails in to a couple more vintners so this should be a great evening to tasting and tweeting about Virginia Viognier.
  • May 16, 2013 — Virginia Red Blends.  Seems even more appropriate for the second #VAWineChat to focus on some of the most notable wines in Virginia — Bordeaux style red blends.  Many Virginia wine enthusiasts believe these red blends are Virginia’s ticket to more national/ international recognition (and sales).  If recent Governor’s Cup results are any indicator, red blend advocates may be on to something.  Open a bottle of your favorite Virginia red blend and join us online.  Several Virginia winemakers have confirmed they will be online to taste and tweet along with us.
  • May 30, 2013 — Open.  Suggestions? Anyone or winery want to host? Focus on a particular wine, winery, winemaker, region or other Virginia wine topic? If so, please let me know so we can put it on the calendar.
  • June 13, 2013 — Virginia Cider.  Virginia wine’s cousin will make a cameo at Virginia Wine Chat (though, I suppose this is technically #VACiderChat).  Given the popularity of cider amongst the Virginia wine set, this is sure to be a popular chat topic.  Diane Flynt of Foggy Ridge Cider (on Twitter: @FoggyRidgeCider) is confirmed to join us online to discuss and field questions about Virginia cider.  No doubt we’ll attract some out-of-state participation on this one.
  • June 27, 2013 — Open.  Suggestions?
  • July 11, 2013 — The Past, Present, and Future of Virginia Wine.  Awaiting confirmation from host.  Will be a Thomas Jefferson tie-in with this session.
  • July 25, 2013 — Open.  Suggestions?

We could easily fill the calendar with interesting topics for the next couple years, but I feel this is a great start.  I’ve left every other VA Wine Chat date ‘open‘ with the hopes that others have topics that they would like to cover.  If so, please let me know.

Here are a few other topics I thought might be cool to cover on a future VA Wine Chat:

  • Virginia Cabernet Franc.
  • The Wines of Northern Neck.  Lets explore the wines of Virginia’s Northern Neck.  Perhaps we can talk Terry Hyde-Newman (on Twitter @NNKWineDiva) and/or Chris at Ingleside (on Twitter: @InglesideWinery) in to hosting at #VAWineChat to cover the wines of this region.  :)
  • Wine of the new Middleburg AVA.  This would surely be an interesting discussion given the time and work Boxwood’s Rachel Martin put in pushing this to completion.
  • The Wines of Loudoun County.
  • Wines of the Monticello AVA.
  • Sparkling Virginia Wine.

Please contact me or leave a comment if you have a VA Wine Chat topic you would like to see address, or would like to host.

Keep an eye on the Virginia Wine Chat calendar here.  You can also visit the Virginia Wine Chat Eventbrite page to add this event to your calendar (I did not setup the ticket option).

Hope to see you on Twitter on Thursday, May 2 at 7pm eastern time.  Cheers!

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