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Wine: Drink-local movement comes to Virginia

Norton grapes at Bluemont Vineyard in Virginia. (Susan Biddle for The Washington Post)

What grapes make Virginia’s best wines? Can petit verdot challenge cabernet franc as the region’s premier red grape? Or will more area winemakers finally embrace the Old Dominion’s own contribution to viticulture, the Norton? And what exactly is petit manseng, anyway?

These are some of the questions that will be bandied about on April 25 as winemakers, bloggers and oenophiles gather at Lansdowne resort in Leesburg for the 2010 Conference. The conference is a chance to learn about new trends and developments in Virginia and Maryland’s wine industries as well as taste some of the best the region has to offer.

The conference agenda includes panel discussions with winemakers, sommeliers and journalists on issues facing the regional wine movement – not just here but around the country. In addition to discussing the mid-Atlantic’s terroir and potential to make great wines, the conference will discuss how wineries can use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to get around the mainstream wine media (wait -- wouldn't that include me?) and get the word about local wine directly to their fans and followers. A panel I’m moderating will discuss how to convince the eat-local crowd to drink local, too.

The real highlight is the Twitter Taste-Off, featuring about 25 wineries and live WiFi so everyone can tweet their instantaneous wine reviews. Participating Virginia wineries will include Breaux, Corcoran, Sunset Hills, Chrysalis, Chatham, Fabbioli, Jefferson, Ingleside, Keswick and King Family. Maryland will be represented by Black Ankle, Sugarloaf Mountain, Elk Run, Serpent Ridge, Cygnus and Fiore, wineries that can show the dramatic improvements in Maryland wine over the past few years.

So bring your laptop, netbook or iPhone and be prepared to exercise your inner Robert Parker – in 140 characters or less per wine! is the Web site I co-created two years ago with Jeff Siegel, aka “The Wine Curmudgeon,” as a vehicle for finding blogs and other writings about regional wine, which is too often ignored by the MSWM (Mainstream Wine Media). The conference is an attempt to bring bloggers and writers from across the country to a different region each year to learn about that region’s wines. It is open to the public at a cost of $65 (includes the conference, lunch and the Twitter Taste-Off) for advance registration at, and $75 on the day of the conference. But seating is limited so it’s best to sign up now. Last year’s conference in Texas sold out, and we had to turn people away.

-- Dave McIntyre
(Follow me on Twitter.)

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By The Food Section  |  April 8, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Wine  | Tags: Dave McIntyre, Twitter, wine  
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