Go West, Young Wine Writer….For Free!

One of the great perks of having been at this wine writing thing for some time involves my association with the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers, for whom I serve as an occasional speaker and coach (just by way of a disclaimer in advance of the plug which follows).

And one of the great pleasures of this association is getting to spend a few days every year attending the convocation that occurs under this association’s banner, nestled into the luxurious surroundings of Meadowood Resort in the Napa Valley.

I’ve been to all of these Symposiums in the last 11 years, save one, and I can tell you that for anyone who writes about wine, or dreams of it — or anything in between — the symposium.jpgconference represents an unparalleled opportunity. An opportunity to learn, to practice, and just as importantly, to celebrate wine writing and the people who are passionate about it.

This year’s lineup of speakers is quite impressive. For three days, attendees of this year’s conference will get to hang out with, listen to, and learn from an incredibly talented (and famous) group of individuals, including: Hugh Johnson, Eric Asimov, Jay McInerney, Ray Isle, Doug Frost, Jamie Good, Tilar Mazzeo, and more.

In addition to such accomplished professionals, there are always a lot of people who are in much earlier stages of their careers, including some who have just begun their journeys as aspiring wine writers.

Perhaps one of those people should be you, especially if you have ever been paid to write about wine (which is the entry criteria for attendance).


Things have changed recently with regards to Symposium attendance. There are now only two ways to attend the symposium. Either as one of 30 fellowship recipients (i.e. totally free) or as an employee of a magazine or other publication at a rate of $3500 paid by your employer (which covers both the symposium and lodging at Meadowood).

So consider this a nudge for you to apply for a fellowship.

The fellowships are awarded largely based on quality and impact of writing, and all you have to do is submit your work. The deadline is November 1, 2014. That’s 10 days away.

I’ve watched magazines get launched from this conference. I’ve watched amateurs with a few blog posts to their name blossom into serious wine writers that write regularly for major print and online outlets. And I’ve both watched and participated in the continual renewing of the intimate sense of community that the world of wine writing enjoys in part thanks to this Symposium.

And did I mention that the whole thing is catered by the same kitchen that operates the Michelin Three-Starred Meadowood Restaurant? Oh, and don’t forget that every meal after 11 AM is flush with wine from the libraries of the Napa Valley Vintners Association. The food and wine alone are worth the price of admission.

The week I spend in Napa as a speaker or attendee at this conference is one of the best weeks of each year for me, and I hope you’ll consider joining me (and lots of other folks who are more worth getting excited about) at the event, either as a paid participant, or as a fellowship winner.

The Symposium for Professional Wine Writers
February 16-19, 2016
Meadowood Resort
St. Helena, CA

The fee to attend is $595 per person, and that will go up to $695 after December 1, 2015. Participation is open to those who write about wine and food in some professional, journalistic capacity, and in any medium. This means that if you make your living, or part of it, doing PR or Marketing writing for wineries or the wine industry, you may not qualify.

Fellowship applications are DUE ON NOVEMBER 1 and should be submitted online .

I am, of course, happy to answer any questions you might have about all this.

Hope to see you there.