British Wine Scribes Invade Napa

Every winter, just as the yellow mustard flowers reach their peak of brightness between the vineyard rows, the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers gets under way in Napa. Now in its eleventh year, this gathering was conceived as a way to build community among peers, and to further the craft of wine writing. While the conference’s attendees have mainly consisted of American wine writers, it has begun to attract participants from around the world. This year’s event, held in mid February, played host to a minor British invasion of wine writers, a presence that added both an international perspective as well as some posh accents to the mix.

Sponsored by the Napa Valley Vintners, the symposium is held each year at the luxurious Meadowood resort just outside St Helena in the heart of the Napa Valley. The event is open to any professional writer working in the English language, and attendance is limited to 30 participants, each of whom is selected by a panel of judges (of which I am one, by way of disclosure) on the basis of the quality of their submitted work and the strength of their professional status and reputation. The selected participants, along with invited speakers and writing coaches, spend four intimate days together focused on both the craft and the business of wine writing, all the while immersed in the wines and food of the Napa Valley.

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