The Wine Curmudgeon was not always a supporter of regional wine. When I started doing this almost 25 years ago, I assumed -- as almost everyone else did then, and as too many people still do -- that if North American wine didn't come from California, it wasn't worth anything.
My education was a gradual process, starting with Washington and Oregon, and then moving to the rest of the country. But I learned something, and I'm glad I did. One of the first wine stories I sold as a freelancer, when I was still working in the newspaper business, was about regional wine. Travelers on American Airlines in 1989 read a story by a novice wine writer named Jeff Siegel that said -- lo and behold -- that wine was made in odd and strange places like Missouri, Virginia, Michigan and Texas. I still remember the thrill of selling that story, and wherever the editor is who bought it (my memory for names has never been good), thank you.
Which brings us to this weekend, when DrinkLocalWine.com holds it second annual conference. We're in Loudoun County, Va., where we're focusing on Virginia wine. The details are here; we still have some spots available for people in the Washington, D.C. area who want to attend. The Twitter Taste-off, with 25 wineries, should be worth the price of admission alone.
These days, regional wine is thriving, and it has become something more than wine made in odd places. There are top-notch wines being made by top-notch winemakers using top-notch grapes. The catch? That not enough people know about the quality of regional wine. But that's changing, and I like to think that my efforts. along with Dave McIntyre, for DrinkLocalWine.com are part of that change.
All wine doesn't have to taste like it came from California. The sooner the wine world realizes that, the better off we'll all be. It's not that life is too short to drink bad wine; it's that life is too short to drink the same kind of wine..