One more sign local wine has made the mainstream
If this wasn’t enough, or even this, there’s this – that 11 regional winemakers made Michael Cervin’s list of the 100 most influential winemakers in the United States.
Frankly, I was shocked, and had not even looked at the list when it came out. Cervin is a California wine writer who didn’t ask me for recommendations, so I figured this would be another Winestream Media glorification of California cult wine.
Shows how much I know, and that I always end up breaking the first rule of wine writing, no matter how hard I try not to – taste the wine before you judge it. Or, in this case, read the list before you judge it.
“We have to stop being so myopic in our choices about where wine comes from,” says Cervin. “This is a big deal that there are so many regional winemakers on the list. There’s a paradigm shift underway, and it has been going on for a while.”
The top-ranked regional winemaker was Texas’ Kim McPherson of McPherson Cellars at No. 20, and other notables included Andrew Meggitt of Missouri’s St. James Winery at 64 and Fred Frank of New York’s Konstantin Frank at 52.
Two things impressed me about the list – that Cervin had done his homework, and knew who people like Missouri’s Tony Kooyumjian of Augusta Cellars (89) and Kris Kane of Brix 21 in New York (88) were, and that his methodology was sound. Cervin just didn’t rank winemakers based on his opinion, but got suggestions from retailers, sommeliers, and other wine professionals. This included Doug Frost, who knows more about regional wine than almost anyone else in the country, myself included. Cervin’s standard for ranking: The winemaker had to make a range of great wine, and had changed the perception of wine made in his or her region.
“It’s important that every state is given its due,” says Cervin. “If you dismiss them because of what they are, you’re doing a complete disservice to wine as a whole.”
In fact, the list was so well done that it invites comment. Noticeably missing were Colorado’s Guy Drew (and no one from Colorado made the list) as well as Luca Paschina of Barboursville Vineyards in Virginia. I was also surprised that one of New York’s top riesling winemakers, like Fox Run’s Peter Bell, wasn’t included. And yes, Cervin said with a sigh, he had heard about names left out, and especially Paschina.
Which is just one more example of how many people care about regional wine. Why else would they complain?