This tweet, from last week’s monthly Texas wine Twitter event, says it all: “Hey @DeniseClarke and @VintageTexas [two of the event’s organizers] -- who knew we'd do #TxWine at a national retailer like @WholeFoods?”
Certainly not me. When we started DrinkLocalWine five years ago, the idea that one of the leading grocers in the country would participate in a regularly scheduled regional wine event – and offer free samples -- was not even worth thinking about. We had enough problems convincing consumers wine was made in states other than California, Washington and Oregon, let alone marketers with multi-million dollar budgets.
But there we were, sipping and tweeting, on a cold and rainy Tuesday night at several Whole Foods across the state, as well as a variety of wine bars, restaurants and retailers that served Texas wine. And then, about 45 minutes into the event, the evening’s hashtag, #TxWine, was trending at No. 1 on Twitter. Which, even for a Twitter neophyte like me, means something. #TxWine ain’t no Kardashians.
Hence the headline for this post. Is regional wine finally more than a novelty? Is it an accepted part of the U.S. wine business. The answer, I’m happy to say, is yes. Companies like Whole Foods don’t do events like this out of the goodness of their corporate hearts; they do it to make money. And nothing speaks mainstream acceptance like getting it from a company with almost $13 billion in sales.
This doesn’t mean there still isn’t work to do, and I saw that Tuesday night. We had a couple of people at my Whole Foods who brought their regional wine attitude with them -- arms crossed, eyes squinting, and minds less than open about wine that wasn’t made in a real wine region. But that’s OK – we know how much the Wine Curmudgeon enjoys a challenge.