DLW 13 is now history. This is a cliché, but I have to say it: This year’s conference was the best ever. Not only did we shine a light on Maryland wine at a conference with about 150 people, but we had a great tasting at Baltimore’s Camden Yards with about 400 people all eager to try local wines they had never tasted and in some cases, never even knew existed. (More on that in a moment.)
Of course, DLW is always a social media event, and our tweets and updates quickly became the leading trend on Twitter – above even Tiger Woods and his two-stroke penalty at the Masters or Kobe Bryant’s ruptured Achilles tendon. We realized something was happening when advertisements began popping up on #dlw13 and #mdwine. We don’t have the figures yet about how many “impressions” and retweets the conference generated, but once again we had people chiming in from around the world, retweeting and showing their support for Maryland wine. One of those was Jancis Robinson, no less. Not bad for some kids from the sticks.
The Twitter Taste-Off is always my favorite part of these conferences. This year, we opened it to the general public on a greater scale than we had before, and the crowd was terrific. Not only did they get to taste some Maryland classics, like Boordy, Basignani and Elk Run, but also some of the new guard, including Black Ankle, Slack and Port of Leonardtown. Millstone Cellars was there with some fascinating ciders and meads that were crowd favorites. And those who came got to taste a bit of Maryland’s exciting future – two wineries that are not even open yet were pouring their new unreleased wines. These were Big Cork and Old Westminster wineries (I wrote about them a few weeks ago when I was able to taste the wines prior to the conference.) I heard a lot of people raving about these wines, especially Old Westminster’s 2012 Chardonnay. (Here’s Paul Vigna’s take on the tasting at PennLive.com.)
We also asked participants to vote for their favorite white, red and alternative wines. The winners were Black Ankle for its 2011 Albarino, which really rocked; Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyards for its delicious 2010 EVOE, a Bordeaux-style blend; and Millstone Cellars for its Ciderberry, a tasty cider made of Rome Beauty and Stayman Winesap apples and flavored with raspberries. Yum!
These wines may have won the vote, but the real winners were the wineries who supported our effort and offered their wines – DLW13 helped elevate Maryland wine’s profile among writers, bloggers and consumers.
Finally, a shout-out to Kevin Atticks and his crew at the Maryland Wineries Association, our main sponsor, for making the conference such a success. Without the hard work of Kevin, Briana Berg, Jade Ostner and a bevy of interns, the conference could not have been carried out so smoothly. We left with such a good feeling that we’re already thinking of doing it again someplace else next year.