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As most readers know, the Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC11) is coming to Virginia this year.  Beginning July 22, 2011, 325 wine bloggers, industry insiders, print journalists, wine PR professionals, wineries and even students will converge on Charlottesville, VA for WBC11.  For three days, The Commonwealth will serve as the epicenter of the new media wine blogging world, which provides Virginia a great opportunity to introduce Virginia wine to an influential group of wine enthusiasts that have little experience (in some cases none) with Virginia wine.

No doubt WBC11 will create many new brand evangelists for Virginia wine – that is, for those wineries that fully embrace the conference.  As part of the WBC11 conference there are a number of sponsorship and branding opportunities for Virginia wineries and associated businesses that want exposure to a national, and even international audience.

One of the lesser-known sponsorship and branding opportunities that many Virginia wineries may not be aware of is the WBC Scholarship program.  The WBC Scholarship assists bloggers who can’t otherwise afford, in full or in part, to attend WBC11.  As part of the selection process, the WBC Scholarship Committee pays specific attention to bloggers who post regularly, have never attended the conference before, and who might be students with a particular focus in wine.

The scholarship program is operated by wine blogger Thea Dwelle, also known as @WineBratSF in the Twitterverse, who has been a passionate and tireless advocate for providing a way for bloggers to attend Wine Blogger Conferences.

In 2010, the WBC Scholarship Fund assisted 11 bloggers in attending the Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla, Washington.  With an average personal donation of $100, and average corporate sponsorship of $300, the WBC Scholarship fund raised over $6000 last year, which paid for these bloggers to attend.  Each blogger received an average of $800 to attend the conference, to cover travel costs, attendance fees, and accommodation.  Notably, four of the scholarship winners were students with a focus in wine communications, oenology, and other wine related studies.  Additionally, several scholarship recipients from 2009 and 2010 have gone on to new careers in wine.

Not only can Virginia wineries participate as WBC Scholarship donors – Inns & Hotels, organizations, wine shops, local businesses, and individuals can also donate the fund.  The WBC Scholarship is accepting donations as a 501(c) non-profit organization, so donations may be tax deductible (consult your wine drinking tax professional).

Please consider supporting this worthy program!  Donate here.

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