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 mentor (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 12 years, save one, and I can tell you that for anyone who writes about wine, or dreams of it — or anything in between — the conference 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.
And amazingly, it’s totally free.
That’s right. If you apply to attend, which involves submitting examples of your work, and you are accepted, you get to attend for free. No fees, free lodging at Meadowood, and all the incredible Michelin-starred food you can eat, all for the cost of getting yourself to the event, however much that might run you.
Of course, if you work for some sort of media outlet, they can just pay your way, too, but for the average independent journalist or aspiring wine writer, if you can convince the fellowship reviewers of your talents, then you’re golden.
The event sponsors 30 fellowships, and applications are now being accepted until October 1st.
I’ve watched magazines get launched from this conference. I’ve watched amateurs with a few blog posts and a paid wine article 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.
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 21-24, 2017
St. Helena, CA
Fellowship applications are DUE OCTOBER 1 and should be submitted online . Only professional (i.e. you have been paid at some point to write about wine) editorial or news wine writers are accepted, which does not include those who make their living in PR or wine marketing.
I am, of course, happy to answer any questions you might have about all this.