Wine And Wisdom In Salt Lake City

Hi folks! I’ve just returned from a weekend in lovely Salt Lake City where I attended the Build Your Blog Conference. My head is spinning and my to-do list is a mile long.

Build Your Blog Conference

The very, very best part of the trip was sharing it with my fabulous pals, Katie Clooney (Preppy Empty Nester) and Kelly McKenzie. Each of these ladies has written their take on the conference. After you finish enjoying my post, head over to Katie’s and Kelly’s for their story.

My assignment for the trip was to scope out restaurants. The sole criteria set forth by the gals was: a good wine list.

With the help of Open Table and a search for Notable Wine Lists in Salt Lake City, I came up with a couple of great places.

First up:

Martine Salt Lake City

The Martine Cafe, located at 22 East 100 South in downtown Salt Lake City, serves contemporary American food with influences from around the globe. The offerings range from bar bites and tapas to salads and entrees. The menu also includes a fixed price dinner of 3 or 4 courses.

The folks at Zagat called Martine Cafe the “best, most unique and innovative cooking in town” and called their wine list “imaginative”. 

The wine by the glass list is not terribly lengthy but there are some terrific wines to choose from.

I loved the 2013 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir from Oregon. Katie ordered the 2013 Poseidon Chardonnay from Carneros (Napa/Sonoma) and Kelly enjoyed the 2013 Zepaltas Sauvignon Blanc from Lake County in Northern California.

Something for everyone!

The food and wine were exactly what we were looking for. And, the restaurant was only a short walk from the Little America Hotel in which we were staying.

The next night we headed to what Open Table called the #1 wine spot in Salt Lake City.

BTG Wine Bar Salt Lake City

Excuse me, BTG Wine Bar

Does your sign say that you have OVER 80 wines available by the glass?!?!?!?!

Ummm… Can I live at your restaurant?

The BTG Wine Bar (located at 63 West 100 South in downtown Salt Lake City) does indeed have over 80 wines on their list. Every single one of these wines is offered in a 2 ounce pour, a 5 ounce pour and by the bottle. Check out the wine list on the restaurant’s website.

The wine list also includes approximately 25 flights to choose from.

For those unfamiliar with the term, a wine flight is a tasting of several wines (usually 3) in smaller pours. Flights are presented with the lightest wine on the left, progressing to the heaviest wine on the far right. They are a great way to try three different wines rather than committing to a full glass of one particular wine.

The beauty of BTG Wine Bar’s 2 ounce pour is that diners can create their very own flight, which is exactly what I did.

BTG Wine Bar make your own wine flight

My flight was made up of:

  • 2009 Soter Estate “White Label” Pinot Noir from the Yamhill-Carlton area of the Willamette Valley in Oregon
  • 2012 Duckhorn Merlot from Napa Valley
  • 2010 Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon from the Howell Mountain area of Napa Valley

Win! Win! Win!

Katie and Kelly went with white wines: the 2014 Delaporte Sancerre from France and the 2013 Mer Soleil Gold Reserve Chardonnay from the Santa Lucia Highlands area of Monterey County, California.

The BTG Wine Bar offers a few small bites but diners can also order any of the scrumptious Italian dishes from their sister restaurant, Caffé Molise.

We spent hours playing hooky from the conference enjoying the BTG Wine Bar. It was a night to remember and one which we will think of each time we use our souvenir wine glasses.

BTG Wine Bar

Even the Lucky H Bar & Grille in the Little America Hotel had a decent wine list. We spent a lot an appropriate amount of time in the hotel bar. The wines of choice:

  • Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay from California
  • Sonoma-Cutrer Russian River Ranches Chardonnay from Sonoma
  • Fleur de California Pinot Noir

(Note that no vintages were listed. This usually means you are drinking the most recent vintage.)

Our one teeny, tiny wine fail from the weekend occurred on our final night at the HUGE EPIC AFTER-PARTY GALA.

At registration, we were each given one drink ticket to be used at this HUGE EPIC AFTER-PARTY GALA.

Katie, Kelly and I joked that we should collect tickets from the teetotalers in the crowd. No point in those tickets going unused…

dressed up for the Gala

A stop for a photo at the “step and repeat” and then we were off to the bar to redeem our tickets. We had worked hard and were ready for a little glass of celebration.

That’s when the ugly rumor started circulating the room.

“The drink ticket covers a glass of flavored soda. No wine is being served.”

Wait…What?!?!?!

Not good.

Immediately after dinner we scurried off to the comfort of the Lucky H Bar (not so much the Grill part, just the Bar), spending the rest of the evening celebrating and reviewing what we learned over the weekend. Joined by some new blogging pals, we toasted to a successful conference.

But alas, all good things must come to an end.

When the hotel bar staff starts to recognize you and greets you with, “Ladies, will you be having the usual?”, it might be time to pack up and head home.

Have no fear, Salt Lake City – we will be back! I’m especially talking to you, BTG Wine Bar!

How about you? Have you ever been to a place with such a large wine-by-the-glass menu? Do you like wine flights?

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10 Tips For A Successful Blog Conference

Last weekend, my dear pal Katie Clooney (aka Preppy Empty Nester) and I traveled to Richmond, Virginia to attend the Focused Blogging Conference. The days were filled with laughter and learning – all in all, a great success.

So that you might have an equally successful experience when you attend a blog conference, I present:

10 Tips For A Successful Blogging Conference

1. Research Your Options

There are dozens and dozens of blog conferences out there. Many are devoted to certain blogging niches (food, fashion, travel). Some are small or by invitation only. Some are enormous and potentially overwhelming. Find one that suits you.

Google “blog conference schedule” and you will find lists of conferences to choose from. The Blogger Network includes a comprehensive list in their Blogopedia, although they acknowledge that the 2016 calendar is still being set.

We chose the Focused Blogging Conference because it was smaller, promised “hands on” time to implement what was learned and the dates worked for us.

2. Plan Ahead

Many conferences offer early bird pricing which can save you money. Also, conferences usually arrange a group rate at a hotel for attendees. Book your room early so you don’t lose out on the reduced rate.

If you are interested in trying to secure sponsors for the conference (someone who will cover part or all of your trip), start planning your strategy as soon as possible.

3. Bring A Friend

Let’s face it, it’s not easy to walk into a room of strangers all by yourself. A conference is much more fun when you have a partner in crime.

#3 Bring A Friend

Also, when you are old of a certain age, two heads can absorb the lessons better than one.

4. Follow Social Media

If there is a Facebook group for attendees, join it. Follow the conference and the sponsors on social media. Follow the other attendees, especially the ones in your niche. It is quite likely that lots of valuable information will be shared via these channels. Don’t expect to get conference details in an old fashioned way like email.

5. Come Prepared

In addition to the obvious things like a laptop, business cards and lots of adorable outfits, remember to bring things like chargers and an extension cord, water bottle, note taking equipment, etc. Because I am an office supply loving nerd who is obsessed with her label maker, I assembled a conference notebook in which I put a copy of the agenda, course list, mentor bios, and list of attendees. It worked for me.

6. Choose The Right Path

Study the list of available workshops. Be sure to sign up for the ones suited to your level of expertise and interest. If you are just starting out and you need help with blog design and social media, sign up for workshops that can help you with that. Leave the “50 Ways To Boost Your Monetization” class to someone else.

7. Make New Friends

Position yourself at a table with people you’ve never met. Introduce yourself to as many folks as possible. Connect with as many new friends as you can. There is a lot to be learned from your fellow bloggers, even if your audiences do not overlap.

Katie and I connected with these adorable young things and had a blast. Alicia (Vibrant Home Schooling), Jennie (The Diary Of A Real Housewife) and Jennifer (Organized Home, Organized School) took us under their wings and with their help (and social media adeptness), our table won prizes every night.

Conference Dream Team

#DreamTeam

8. Take Advantage Of All Opportunities

Keep an eye out for special events offered by the conference, instructors and sponsors. These might be things like one-on-one time, study halls or other chances to pick the brain of experts. Even though a nap might sound very inviting, push through and keep learning!

9. Show Your Appreciation

Take the time to thank the presenters and sponsors. Let them know the ways in which they have helped you. Show them some social media love. If someone has been particularly helpful, you might just express your appreciation by treating them to a glass of wine or a Bailey’s nightcap.

10. Most Importantly, Have Fun!

All work and no play makes for a cranky blogger. Approach the conference as an exciting adventure but take time to have fun with your new and not-so-new friends.

Have fun at the conference

Clearly we could have used help from the dream team to get the numbers in the right order.

What would you add to the list? What is your key to a successful conference? Do tell!

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Mishmash

Please ride along with me as I share a little of this and a little of that.

Check out this magazine.

The other day at my hair salon I discovered a new (to me) magazine. The title drew me in immediately.

Live Happy

Live Happy

Live Happy. Those two words pretty well sum up my goal in life and the purpose of this blog.

While waiting for the color to percolate through my hair, I read the magazine from cover to cover. As soon as I got home I filled out the subscription card and stuck it in the mail.

Live Happy is not a very big magazine – 100 pages or so. Many of the articles are one page or less. It’s very easy to read.

The Live Happy tagline is “Trade stress for mindfulness.”.

While I sometimes think that the term “mindful” is overused, I love that this publication encourages readers to live and enjoy life in simple ways not requiring unrealistic crafting skills (ahem, Martha) or the purchase of some new fabulou$$ favorite thing (I’m talking to you, Oprah).

Now I love reading O and Martha Stewart Living and Real Simple but sometimes they can be overwhelming and feel a little like homework.

There is something about Live Happy (at least the 2 issues I’ve read so far) that feels like a vacation.

The magazine is available at Barnes & Noble and you can visit the Live Happy website here.

DIY Invitations

One way in which I live happy is by creating cool invitations for events.

I’m not terribly artistic – most of us accountants are not – but, with the help of a site called Cards & Pockets, I sure do have fun.

We discovered this site while planning for my daughter and son-in-law’s wedding. Annie and Jerry were interested in a non-traditional invitation. My brother and sister-in-law, the ones who host themed Thanksgiving dinners every year, generously offered to come up with a design.

While scouring the internet for ideas, my sister-in-law came across Cards & Pockets and the next thing we knew, the invitations were set.

wedding invitation

This whole thing folded up into a nice packet fitting into large square envelopes which we lined with maps from old atlas books.

Amazing, right?!?!

I will be co-hosting a baby shower in September and asked to be in charge of the invitations. My happy place.

This is what I’ve come up with.

shower invitation

Using a simple, one pocket card, I’ve printed and mounted the invitation on the flat side and used the pocket on the back to include a card with information the guests need.

Cards & Pockets has a wide variety of shapes and styles and a jillion colors to choose from. For a small price and free shipping they will send you samples of just about anything.

I bought the rights to use the passport stamp image from Can Stock Photo and I’m making great use of my tiny investment. I printed the image on envelope liners for a little extra impact. And I used the passport stamp image on Zazzle to create bookplates which will be included with each invitation.

The truth: I love DIY invitations because it allows the control freak in me to have my hands on the process and the product at all times.

Something new on the blog!

At the suggestion of some of my readers, I have compiled a list of the wines I have reviewed in various posts and also the wineries I have visited.

The very generous and kind Dana from Kiss My List provided a sounding board to help me figure out what these lists should look like. Thanks, Dana!!

When you hover over “Wineaux” on the menu bar, you will now see several options.

The “Wine Posts” tab will – you guessed it! – bring you to my wine posts.

Selecting “Red Wines” will bring up this page

red wine list

and the “White Wines” tab will bring you to this.

White wine list

A list of all the wineries and tasting rooms I’ve written about, including those which are part of my pursuit to visit wineries in all 50 states, can be found here.

Taste wine with bread

Please let me know what you think about this snazzy new feature.

I’ll continue to add more wines as I find them. I hope this helps you get ideas about wines to try!

Lucy and Ethel attend a blog conference…

This weekend my pal, the wickedly funny Katie Clooney of Preppy Empty Nester, and I are heading to Richmond, Virginia to attend a blog conference.

We selected this particular conference because it sounded like it would provide lots of hands on learning. And we both need LOTS of hands on learning. Flying by the seat of our pants can only be sustained for so long.

Shhhh there's wine in here

I’ve been “hard at work” preparing for the conference.

Through the special Facebook group for attendees (a party that we were both very late to and had no clue it would be the primary means of communication – whoops!) we have discovered that:

  1. We will likely be on, let’s just say, the far north end of the age spectrum.
  2. There are things we don’t even know that we don’t know.
  3. We just might be in way over our heads.

This should be interesting…

That being said, one thing we know for sure is that we will have tons o’ fun.

But seriously… wish us luck!

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