Drink Local Wine, regional wine, and the growth of local
This week, the second most important wine writer in the world wrote about what she called the 50 states of wine: “But the exciting thing is that the proportion of good to very good wine made somewhere other than on the Pacific coast has been increasing markedly recently.”
And then Jancis Robinson mentioned Drink Local Wine. Even the Wine Curmudgeon had to smile.
Five years ago, when we held the first Drink Local Wine conference, I fully expected it to not be very successful. Why would anyone want to come to a day-long event at a culinary school to listen to people talk about Texas wine? I thought it would be interesting — but that was one more reason why no one would attend, given how out of step I am with most of the wine world.
As usual, I was wrong. What I didn’t realize then, and which has become increasingly evident over the past five years, is that most of the wine world is out of step with local wine. They dismiss it as marginal or not well done or economically insignificant, but all they want to do is to sell wine with cute labels that tastes exactly the same. Which is not what anyone who cares about local wine cares about.
Drink Local Wine is the best evidence of this. We’ve put on five conferences in five years, plus five Regional Wine Weeks, without one paid employee – just volunteer executive directors, a volunteer board, and a volunteer president. We have spent so little money for each conference that it’s kind of embarrassing. The first thing I always had to explain to sponsors was that we weren’t there to give them a big-time hospitality suite; we were there to tell the world about local wine, and what little money we had went for that.
And five years later, we’re poised for the biggest and best conference ever – this weekend in Baltimore focusing on Maryland wine.This wouldn’t have been possible unless there was a demand for what we were doing. Yes, we worked hard on DLW, and we had some wonderful people do that work because they believed in local wine. And, yes, we were smart and savvy and ahead of our time.
But it was never about us, because all we did was tap into the growing enthusiasm for local – local wine, local food, local retail and everything that isn’t Walmart and mass produced and soul sucking. That we were able to help, and that I was part of it, is one of the best things I have ever done.
I won’t be in Baltimore this weekend, but will be following the conference – on Twitter, of course, using the hash tags #MdWine and #DLW13. Which is something else local wine gave the wine world – the Twitter tasting. I wonder: Is the wine world angrier at us for that than for making them pay attention to local wine?