Tag Archives: Drink Local wine

regional wine

Drink Local Wine Week: Who knew it would outlast the organization?

drink localOnce more, evidence that local wine has become part of the wine mainstream — and a good thing, too

The last proper Drink Local Wine week was in October 2013; the organization went into hiatus the next spring. So what did my Drink Local cohort Dave McIntyre discover a couple of weeks ago?

“Someone just brought it to my attention that people still observe ‘Drink Local Wine Week,’ ” he wrote in an email. Google ‘drink local wine week 2017,’ and you’ll find a bunch of references. Go figure.”

So I did, and he was right – any number of listings on the first Google search page, an impressive performance for something that hasn’t been observed officially in four years. When Vinepair and Wine Folly mention your event, you’ve made the big time.

In this, regional wine has mostly become an accepted part of the wine landscape. In the dozen or so biggest regional wine states, the wines are on retail shelves – even grocery stores – and are represented by national distributors. In Texas, the Central Market supermarket chain is offering 20 percent off local wines for Texas wine month; yes, I bought a six-pack. This sort of thing was unheard of when we started Drink Local almost a decade ago. Most retailers and distributors treated local wine as if it was poisoned.

So, as Dave says, go figure: How did we do this?

• Publicity, publicity, and then publicity. The five Drink Local conferences, starting in 2009, made a tremendous difference in letting the world know local wine was a real thing that was worth learning about. Plus, they were a lot of fun.

• Tying local wine into the local food movement. This might have been our biggest accomplishment, since locavores don’t see wine as local in the way they see beer, spirits, and tomatoes. And too many, sadly, are horrible wine snobs who believe in points, Parker, and that all local wine is sweet and gross. But in Austin, for example, there is a local wine and food week featuring Devon Broglie, one of the country’s leading wine experts.

• Our friends at Google. We’ll take all the help we can get, even if it comes from the notorious Google search algorithm that figures hits are more important than whether something actually exists. And Drink Local has almost 10 years of hits on the Internet.

I found the announcement for the first Drink Local Wine Week in the blog’s archives – we’ve come a very long way in making local wine respectable since then, haven’t we?.

Helping The Daily Meal understand local and the best U.S. wineries

best U.S. wineriesHow do we know that regional wine is firmly part of the wine mainstream? When a hip and with it on-line magazine, edited by Colman Andrews — one of the most influential people in the food world — lists the 101 best U.S. wineries and 13 are from The Other 47. And, even more impressively, the editors knew so much about drinking local that they don’t even need to ask the most qualified regional wine experts in the country for their input.

Call it just another day at the office for the Winestream Media.

Do not take this as poor mouthing on my part. I’m more grateful than I can write that our work with Drink Local Wine made a difference, whether it’s Eric Asimov’s endorsement of New York wine or Food & Wine’s Ray Isle, who is as open minded about regional wine as he is about cheap wine. And when local gets the kind of play it did from something as high profile and as 21st century as The Daly Meal, I know how far we’ve come.

Or think that I need to rant about the regional wineries on the list. Like all such efforts, it’s perfectly imperfect. Yes, it’s missing a couple of Texas producers, including Brennan and Pedernales, who should be there, and that no one from Missouri made it speaks to the list’s shortcomings. (Full disclosure: One of the Texas producers in the top 101 is owned by someone who criticizes me regularly for my lack of wine knowledge, and has done it in a comment on the blog, and one of the writers who helped pick the list recently told a Texas winery official that the next time I got my facts right about Texas wine, it would be the first time I did so.)

Rather, it’s the frustration that once the Winestream Media gets hold of something, there’s only one way of doing things, and that’s its way. In the end, that becomes self-defeating, as anyone who has ever read the Wine Spectator knows. “Scores are good because they are, and everyone we know agrees with me. So how dare you question us? Because we don’t know you and we don’t want to know you.”

Hence the need to consult people who understand what’s going on with regional wine from a national perspective, which is mostly lacking with the people who helped pick this list.

That no one asked for my opinion is one thing. I’m in the middle of the country, and, as several of my pals have pointed out more than once, my location and my inability to play nicely with the other children works against me when important people on either coast need experting. But that isn’t the case with Doug Frost, MS, MW, and maybe the smartest regional wine person in the world. No one called Doug, and that’s like writing about baseball and not understanding that the game is nine innings long. And how about Linda Murphy, who wrote the book about the subject? Or Dave McIntyre of the Washington Post, who co-founded DLW and is the country’s leading authority on Virginia wine. Or Andrew Stover, who owns a distributor that imports regional wine to the East Coast and has probably more wine from the Other 47 as anyone in the world.

I emailed Andrews at the Daily Meal to ask him about this, but never heard back. Hopefully, he and I can talk soon, and I’ll update the post. Until then, check the list out, look for wineries in your area, and give them a try. Drinking local is what matters, a lesson I hope the Daily Meal keeps in mind when it does the list next year.

More about regional wine:
? Texas wine at the crossroads, one year later

? One more sign local wine has made the mainstream
? Drink Local Wine, regional wine, and the growth of local

Texas and Drink Local Wine’s sixth annual Regional Wine Week

Texas drink local wineRegional wine week started yesterday, and what kind of co-founder and past president would I be if I didn’t participate? So here are my links for this year’s effort, focusing on the changes in Texas wine since I started writing about it:

? How much more accepted is Texas wine than just five years ago? The culinary students I spoke to on Thursday night at Dallas’ El Centro College were interested not because they were supposed to be, but because they really wanted to know about Texas wine. Contrast this with the culinary students I taught at the Cordon Bleu, whose main interest in Texas wine came when I drew my not very accurate map of Texas on the board.

? Not only has Texas wine changed, but so have the people drinking Texas wine — the focus of a story I wrote for the Texas Wine and Trail website. The new generation of Texas wine drinkers I talked to this fall were not “the older Anglos who have powered the local wine movement in the state since the 1990s, and doing yeoman work in the process. Rather, they were younger and, at Grapefest and especially at its People ?s Choice wine tasting and competition, less white. I talked to a Chinese husband and wife who asked such detailed questions about what was going on and which wineries to visit that I couldn ?t answer all of them.”

? A French producer made sparkling wine in the state 30 years ago, though the winery eventually failed. Still, one has to admire the effort: “Texas-made sparkling wine is rare, even today. Thirty years ago, when there were only a handful of wineries in the state, it was much less practical. Sparkling wine is difficult, costly, and time-consuming to make, requires top-notch grapes, and needs an established market for its products.”

? The Hill Country is the focal point for Texas wine for most consumers, and it has undergone huge changes, too — not only in the number of wineries and quality of the wine, but in how the region sees wine in terms of tourism and its economy. Ten years ago, wine was an afterthought; today, Highway 290, with its dozens of wineries, could be a wine trail in California.

? And what would a Texas wine post be without reviews of Texas wine?

Winebits 301: Drink Local Wine, wine costs, wine experts

? Regional wine week: Drink Local Wine will hold its sixth annual Regional Wine Week from Oct. 6 to Oct. 12, which means everyone has a chance to be a wine writer. Maybe that's my legacy as one of the group's co-founders? Anyone ?- professional wine writer to bloggers to wine drinkers with Facebook or Tumblr — can send a link to their story or post about regional wine. This year, as a bonus, there's a photo contest with wine-related prizes. Over the past five years, writers from across the United States and Canada have posted stories and sent DLW links from blogs, websites, magazines, and newspapers about their favorite
regional and local wines, wineries and events. I'll have my annual post on Oct. 6.

? Breaking down the cost of wine: One of the great mysteries about wine is how costs are allocated; that is, how much does each part of the process cost, whether grapes, bottling, marketing, and so forth. I cover this in the Cheap Wine Book (with a nifty graphic), and Jo Diaz, a long-time wine industry insider, has come up with similar numbers. What's important to note is how little the grapes cost — about seven percent of a $50 bottle of wine.

? Who do consumers trust? Not, apparently, wine writers if one study is to be believed. We're so far down the list it's hardly worth mentioning. This has caused all sorts of kerfluffle among those of us who do this for a living, which I'm mostly ignoring as part of my new policy of not writing about wine writing. It's worth mentioning that the study's author, the respected John Gillespie, has said that the survey "may not fully capture market influence." But it sure is fun to write about, no?

 

 

DLW13: What’s next for local wine?

The best news from Drink Local Wine ?s fifth annual conference over weekend in Baltimore is that the local wine movement is, finally, about more than wine geeks. It ?s about local, and that ?s as it should be.

One of the things that always flummoxed us during DLW ?s early years was the antipathy that local food people felt for local wine. I ?ll never forget the phone conversation I had with a prominent Missouri food blogger when I invited her to the 2011 event in St. Louis. I could almost see her turn her nose up: ?Why would I want to drink Missouri wine

More, after the jump:

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Texas wine — 10 years after (part II)

This is the second of two parts looking at where Texas wine has been, where it is, and where it ?s going. Part I, which discussed the most important changes in Texas wine over the past decade, ran April 12. Today, some of the best wines I tasted during my trip to Fredricksburg.

Much has changed in the Hill Country wine business over the past decade that little has to do with the quality of the wine. The tasting rooms are more modern, more California in style and quite sophisticated; gone is the old ?Mom and Pop, welcome to our dining room and have some wine ? feel that was so common then.

Also new: tasting fees, which were unheard of a decade ago. Because, frankly, no one would have paid them. Consumers are also willing to pay top dollar for Texas wine. Few of the wines in the eight wineries I visited cost less than $20, but given the crowds, no one seemed to mind.

What I liked, after the jump:

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Texas wine — 10 years after (part I)

This is the first of two parts looking at where Texas wine has been, where it is, and where it ?s going. Part II, detailing some of the best wines I tasted during my trip to the Hill Country, ran on April 15.

In the first years of this century, there were fewer than 100 wineries in Texas, and I knew almost everyone in the Texas wine business. Today, there are almost 300 wineries, and not only don ?t I know them, but they don ?t know me.

That growth is a function of two things: First, more favorable state regulation, which no longer treats a Texas winery as the work of the devil. Second, the increasing influence of all things local, and especially the local wine and food movements, which has helped to create an increasingly viable market for Texas wine.

Nothing demonstrates this better than Texas wine on restaurant wine lists. When I started going to the Hill Country in the early 1990s, it was almost impossible to find Texas wine in restaurants, and I annoyed more than one employee by asking why they didn’t have Texas wine. This time, there was Texas wine on every list (including a brewpub), and the Cabernet Grill only has Texas wine.

In addition, the locals have made a commitment to Texas wine that didn’t exist before. Ernie Loeffler, the director of the Fredericksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, is knowledgeable about the local wine business, and sees it as a crucial part of the region’s identity. Five wine country tour buses check in at his office every Saturday, and the percentage of visitors who say wine is why they’re in town has tripled.

Even better, the quality of Texas wine was markedly improved. There was very little difference between the best Texas wines (at any price) and wines from the rest of the world. This does not mean that the state has solved all of its wine problems, and there is still too much poorly made and indifferent wine. But the changes have mostly been for the better, and there is no reason to believe that things won ?t keep improving.

More, after the jump:

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