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28 August, 2014

WBC14: Bridlewood Estate Excursion

Comments : 2 Posted in : Travel, Wine Bloggers Conference 2014 on by : The Gourmez

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View from Bridlewood’s mission bells.

As I wrote in my thoughts on the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC14), the overall value of the conference is one of the biggest reasons I’d consider going again in the future. And nothing can illustrate that better than the one additional excursion I attended the afternoon after WBC14 closed: the Bridlewood Estate Excursion.

For about the cost of a burger in most San Francisco eateries ($15), I added on this bonus trip into the Santa Ynez Valley AVA, which I knew included a tour, tasting wines, and a picnic lunch.

The lunch, all bundled up.

The lunch, all bundled up.

I didn’t know it included a panel discussion called “Meet Your Makers”, which would stuff us even more with an amazing array of appetizers prepared by Industrial Eat’s Jeff Olsson, a chef that every blogger who made it away from the hotel for dinner raved about.

Olsson with Valley Piggery’s Jake O’Francis.

Olsson with Valley Piggery’s Jake O’Francis.

More on that later, but even without that bonus session, I would have felt I got my money’s worth from the event. Heck, I probably would have felt it the moment I stepped out of the bus.

Entrance to Bridlewood Estates.

Entrance to Bridlewood Estates.

As I’ve mentioned, I grew up just north of where WBC14 was held, but I’ve spent the vast majority of my drinking years on the East Coast. So I have a dirty little secret for you: I’d never even heard of Bridlewood before. Imagine my surprise to discover such an opulent location!

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They have a horse-drawn carriage, y’all! Obviously, I had no clue Bridlewood is an E & J Gallo property.

We were quickly ushered past the main tasting rooms and storage facilities–
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Yes, that’s a large egg!

Yes, that’s a large egg!

–to our first of three stops, where we were handed glasses of Bridlewood’s Chardonnay—
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–and instructed to walk down to the lake below.

This way!

This way!

Found it.

Found it.

More wine followed at the tables, and we enjoyed a humungous lunch of sandwiches, arugula salads, fresh watermelon and tomato salads, fruit galore, and a delectable brownie.

This life is really hard.

This life is really hard.

I wouldn’t have minded a little more time to relax in that setting, but our group continued back up to the tasting rooms for the surprise (at least to me) panel. Panels on sustainability and good food and drink are my comfort zone. And a lot of my fellow bloggers were equally content. That room held a happy, interested crowd.

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In part, that’s because we know how important it is to recognize the work of the people who produce our food—

Chris and Johanna Finley of Finley Farms Organic

Chris and Johanna Finley of Finley Farms Organic

Stephanie Mutz of Sea Stephanie Fish and Jake O’Francis of Valley Piggery

Stephanie Mutz of Sea Stephanie Fish and Jake O’Francis of Valley Piggery

–and in part because of that aforementioned appetizer plate made with ingredients from the producers at the mic.
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Each bite was paired wonderfully by the chef and Mark Williams of Bridlewood’s winemaking team.

Mark Williams

Mark Williams

I seriously cannot get the perfect union of the sea urchin and avocado salad with the Bridlewood 2012 Chardonnay out of my mind. Like savory pop rocks fizzing on my tongue.

The line of the panel came from Jake O’Francis for me, when he answered a question on if he names the pigs on his farm.
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He did not hesitate to say yes, because doing so is a way of honoring their existence and ultimately, their sacrifice for us. Maintaining distance from his animals is the opposite of his philosophy. I thought that admirable, no matter how difficult it might make the relationship between farmer and pig.

Once the panel finished up, I had time for one more shot for the road.
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I can’t imagine a better capstone to my first WBC14 experience. For the rest of my Bridlewood pictures, skip to the end of this album.

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2s COMMENTS

2 thoughts on : WBC14: Bridlewood Estate Excursion

  • August 31, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Looks like a great excursion- I’m so disappointed I missed signing up before it filled up, but it looks like you had a great time! Thanks for the eye candy:)

    Cheers,

    Alison
    http://www.bonvivantdc.com/blog

    • September 1, 2014 at 3:19 pm

      And thank you for the comment, Alison! Next year, we’ll have to keep our eyes open for all the excursions!

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