This past weekend I attended the Eat Drink Blog Conference in Adelaide. It was open to any Australia-based food or drink blogger, and I was pleased to be one of the 80 delegates.
The conference itself was first held in Melbourne in 2010, and then again last year in Sydney. It’s free for delegates, made possible through the hard work of the organizing committee and the generosity of a wide range of sponsors. Attendees flew in from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth, while we had presenters from as far away as the USA.
The vast majority of the bloggers were concerned with food. I believe there was only one other blog represented that is exclusively about wine – the Adelaide based For The Love of Champagne. Attendees ranged in age from just over twenty to people who were likely in their 60s. And almost as rare as wine bloggers were men – 70 of the 80 delegates and the entire organizing committee were women.
It was a fun and interesting conference. The Saturday started with registration and a tour of the Adelaide Central Market. Then the attendees were broken into three groups – one attended a writing workshop, while the other two were sent for a food and wine tours to McLaren Vale or Barossa. After a quick break, we were reunited for a dinner where the winners of writing and photography competitions were announced, speeches were made, and people generally had a good time.
Sunday was spent in somewhat more serious sessions, with panel discussions, lectures and workshops. Topics included engaging with your community, food styling, photography, website design, legal advice for bloggers, search engine optimization, and making the most of business opportunities. Lunch was in the Central Market, and goodies were provided throughout the day.
So after a weekend full of food, wine and information, all provided free, the obvious first thing to do is to say thank you. The organizing committee did a great job in the months leading up to the event, and everything ran very smoothly over the two days. The first stop in Barossa was at Bibu, a cellar door and restaurant which features wines from small producers. We were given the opportunity to taste wines from Diggers Bluff Wines and Soul Growers, poured by the Winemaker and CEO respectively. From there we visited Hentley Farm for another tasting. The wines were all excellent, and I look forward to writing about each producer at some date in the future. At the dinner, wines from Chapel Hill, K1 by Geoff Hardy, and Zema Estate were greatly appreciated. Kangaroo Island Spirits were involved, though sadly I think it was in the form of an ingredient in one of the dishes instead of martinis. I’m likewise grateful for all the food, but I think the 78 attendees who write about food are better qualified in that department.
So while it was an interesting conference, I’m torn as to queuing up to attend next year. Even though “drink” is featured prominently in the conference name, and we did meet with some winemakers, I’m not sure there’s a huge amount of value in lumping food and wine together in that format, certainly not with only two wine attendees. Most of the wine blogs I read are much less interested in photography and design than food blogs, and there’s very little styling done relative to what people do with food. I have yet to attend a wine blogging conference, but I think that might be a better match for my interests.
That said, I did learn quite a bit from the conference, and I especially enjoyed the other bloggers I met. It was an amazingly well run event, and the other attendees were absolutely charming, so I’d be quite keen to catch up with many of them next year. I might normally feel slightly guilty attending a conference largely for the social aspect, but given the nature of blogging, it’s perhaps not so inappropriate. Also, I could certainly encourage some of the Australian wine bloggers I know to attend. So we’ll just have to see how I feel about the whole thing when the next registration opens, but if enough of the people I met this time around attend, I may not be able to resist.