Tag Archives: DrinkLocalWine

On the road in search of Texas wine

The Wine Curmudgeon has not done much with regional wine lately, and especially with Texas wine. Just too much going on, what with The Cheap Wine Book, a new consulting gig, keeping the blog up to date, and even some freelance magazine writing.

Which is why I ?m spending next week in the Texas Hill Country on a media tour, visiting as many wineries and tasting rooms as possible. My reports will appear on the blog over the next couple of months; I want to try and put Texas wine in perspective, not only with other Texas wine, but with other regional wine ? and, even, the stuff made in California.

There is no doubt that Texas wine long ago passed what the noted Texas food writer Dotty Griffith calls the Chateau Bubba stage. The quality of Texas wine has never been better, and more wine drinkers than ever know this. A Texas wine Twitter event in January was such a success that #TxWine was the site's most popular hashtag that evening ? not easy to do on a social media network where the Kardashians are the top attraction. And how about a Texas wine stunning the food types at a barbecue cook-off in the Pacific Northwest earlier this year, besting wines from California, Washington, and France?

But does that mean, at all prices and for all producers, that Texas wine is ready for the big time? That ?s the next challenge regional wine faces, that it can compete dollar for dollar with wine from the rest of the world. And that ?s what I ?ll be looking for.

One personal note: I ?ve resigned as president of DrinkLocalWine, and won ?t be at the Maryland conference next month. Just too much else going on to allow me to organize my fifth conference in five years. I have no doubt that the Baltimore event will be DLW ?s usual smashing success, thanks to the efforts of people like Michael Wangbickler, the new president, and Richard Leahy, who is spearheading the conference.

This will be the first DLW event that I ?ve missed since Dave McIntyre and I started the group almost six years ago. I ?ll miss it (though not managing the bank account) ? not only for the wine, but for the wonderful people I ?ve met who make regional wine so much fun. But not to worry, becasue I ?m still a regional wine guy, and anyone who doubts that doesn ?t know the Wine Curmudgeon very well.

Texas wine, Ming Tsai and John Besh

The Wine Curmudgeon, ever vigilant, fully expected to write one of those "Well, what do you expect posts?" when I saw Ming Tsai cook with John Besh on the former's PBS show a couple of weeks ago. Both men, and Besh in particular, are ardent supporters of the local food movement, but I don't know that either has really been associated with or embraced local wine.

So I didn't expect them to pair a Texas wine with their meals, prepared at Luke, Besh's new restaurant in San Antonio. Imagine my shock — and pleasure — when Besh poured a Texas cabernet sauvignon to drink with his country fried quail and Tsai's pan roasted chicken. He didn't say whose cabernet it was, but the restaurant wine lists includes the Becker Vineyards Iconoclast.

How happy was I? Enough to overlook the fact that cabernet is not what we do best in Texas, and that a tempranillo would have paired better and been more representative of Texas wine. Also, Besh said Texas sells grapes to other parts of the country. Which we don't, because we don't have enough for Texas winemakers to use.

It was enough to see two big-time, celebrity chefs drinking local wine on national television. What better way to get ready for DLW 2013 in Baktimore, featuring Maryland wine, in six weeks?

Has regional wine entered the mainstream?

rosieThis 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.

DrinkLocalWine sets Regional Wine Week for Nov. 12-16

Which is the fifth annual, believe it or not. Who knew we ?d get this far?

We ?ll also announce the site and date for the annual DrinkLocalWine conference and give away two pairs of tickets in the process. That ?s the fifth annual, too. Which is even harder to believe.

Last year ?s wine week was one of the most successful in DLW history, linking to dozens of stories and blog posts about wine produced in more than half of the other 47 wine states.

Anyone can send us a link at to their post, whether from a blog, a web site, Tumblr, Facebook or whatever. All we ask is that it be about a wine, winery, or region in The Other 47 ? not California, Washington, or Oregon. We ?ll aggregate them on the DLW web site, offering a one-stop snapshot of what ?s going on in regional wine.

One personal note: This year, wine week coincides with the blog ?s birthday week, so the blog will have even more posts than usual. Talk about a birthday week present for visitors, no?

DLW 2012 and the change in regional wine

DLW_conf logo_2012Four years ago, when we held our first DrinkLocalWine conference in Dallas featuring Texas wine, no one was quite sure what would happen. Was regional wine ready for the kind of spotlight we were going to shine on it? Would the media and consumers in attendance understand what we were trying to do — judge regional on its own merits and not as a knockoff of California wine?

The answers turned out to be yes (and not surprisingly, I was surprised) — and we've only seen momentum build since then. In fact, the lesson from DLW 2012: Colorado over the weekend was that we don't have to ask those questions any more. Regional wine is, as several speakers and attendees noted, very close to becoming just another part of the U.S. wine business, and not the novelty it has mostly been for more than a decade. More, after the jump:

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DLW 2012: Colorado ends on a high note

If the buzz in the cyber ether during Saturday's Nomacorc-Colorado Twitter Taste-off was any indication, this was the most successful event in DrinkLocalWine's four-year history. Which is saying something, since the first three events went pretty well, too.

Those of us who believe in drinking local sometimes despair that our message is getting through, probably because we're too close to the subject to have enough perspective. We got plenty of perspective this weekend. As several panelists and speakers noted, drink local is firmly part of eat local, and the local movement is closer than ever to going mainstream.

Which brings a smile to even the Wine Curmudgeon's face.

Say, Gov. Hickenlooper, can you talk to Rick Perry about local wine?

Imagine my surprise when Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper stopped by the DrinkLocalWine 2012: Colorado media dinner last night. On his way to officate at a wedding, no less.

I was surprised, of course, because Texas' elected officials have been less than supportive of Texas wine. Like not at all. And yes, I asked Gov. Hickenlooper the question in the headline. He smiled, but I don't think he realized I wasn't joking.