BUELLTON, Ca. – The only wine word more over used than terroir is probably passion. A lot of people talk about it but it’s really special when you see it.

The final day of the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference featured morning sessions and wrapped up. Some of the nationwide bloggers signed up for afternoon excursions, including one to the stunning Bridlewood Estates Winery.

The passion came from a chef, hog farmer, fisherwoman, and a farming couple. The combination of food and wine is what makes and event like WBC special. And while the bloggers spent a weekend listening to passionate winemakers, it was the first opportunity to combine wine and food and see the passion of artisan craftsmanship in food sourcing.

The interesting thing for the story-telling bloggers is the passion came out of a discussion about social media and food regulations.

“It’s not about the money for any of us,” said Stephanie Mutz of Sea Stephanie Fish. “I’m here to provide a seafood source. I’m for regulations but they come at a cost. All of the regulations cost me a lot. I just want to go fishing.”

Mutz makes a weekly run to Newport Beach to sell her catch. She took the time to explain her relationship with Jeff Olsson, a local caterer and owner of Industrail Eats in Buellton. She uses social media to let people know about her catch.


Francis, Valley Piggery

“I use Twitter and Instagram because there’s not a lot of people out there underwater or on a boat. I don’t do it a lot because I don’t want to be a marketer; I want to be a fisherman.”

The fresh food movement serves Mutz and others well. It’s created a demand somewhat for the unknown. “If Stephanie catches two Bluefin Tuna and that hits social media, I have four people within 10 minutes at the restaurant wanting to order,” Olsson said.

“Then when one of my chefs post something they’ve made from my product I have other chefs say, ‘I want that too,’ “ Olsson said. She provides seafood to several Los Angeles restaurants.

There is also a practical side to using modern technology even if business is good. “It’s hard to imagine running my business without email and social media,” said Jake Francis of Valley Piggery. “I don’t have a retail location. It’s what I call farming the desk and I wish I had more time to do it.”

The panelists showed a strong sense of working together. “We have a great sense of community,” Francis agreed. “We can go out and eat food sourced locally – and we know where it’s come from.”

Bridlewood Winemaker Mark Williams answered questions about his Chardonnay and Syrah served with small bites during the education segment of the winery visit. He gave his take on one of the most recent hot topics, literally – the weather. “The lack of rainfall the last two years is not just an agricultural problem,” he said. “We could see water rationing and other things.”

Williams noted his vineyards are irrigated by a well but he had early bud break this year and verasion is already underway for some grapes like Zinfandel.

The visit was highlighted by the panel a lunch by a small lake, and the aura of the stunning estate.