Monday, April 15, 2013

Rant: Local Sports, Local Wine

Sport fans tend to support their home teams, to have a sense of pride in these local sport teams. In Boston, most local residents support the Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics and Patriots. Even if you are not a big sports fan, you still tend to have a sense of pride in your local teams. One's pride in your local teams often does not depend upon the greater success of those teams. These sports teams don't even have to win championships to have local fans with great pride in their teams. For example, Red Sox fans fervently supported their team despite the fact it took them 86 years to win another World Series.

Local teams, local pride.

This is a great concept and I wish people would have that same pride in their local wine industries. Every state in the country now makes their own wine, and those wineries need the support of their local residents. They need to be embraced like they were a local sports team.

Over the weekend, I attended the fifth annual Drink Local Wine conference in Maryland. This was a fantastic opportunity to learn about and taste a diverse variety of Maryland wines. Prior to the conference, I had never tasted a Maryland wine and at the conference, I probably got to taste easily over 100 Maryland wines. In addition, I attended several panels where a number of people involved in the Maryland wine industry discussed the past, present and future of their wine scene. The issue of local pride arose during these panels.

Like many states, Maryland wines have an image problem, including among many of its citizens. Though I saw much pride for their wine at the conference, the grand tasting also showed how numerous people still did not fully understand the type of wines that Maryland produces. Some previously believed that Maryland made only sweet wine so the grand tasting was an eye opener for them, giving them additional reasons to have greater pride in their state. Far more residents of Maryland need to have pride in their wine industry, to embrace it as they do their local sport teams.

I think it was especially fitting that the Grand Tasting was held at the Warehouse at Camden Yards, the park where the Baltimore Orioles play baseball. Maryland residents have great pride in the Orioles and they should have a similar pride in their local wine industry. That requires a greater comprehension of the local wine industry, a willingness to explore and taste local wines to learn what they have to offer.

I heard a local chef, whose restaurant emphasizes local ingredients, explain that he was still ignorant of many Maryland wineries, which was part of the reason why his restaurant's wine list had only a tiny amount of local wines. As he has pride in local food ingredients, he should learn more about Maryland wine and obtain a similar pride in those wines. Locally, I have heard from a number of restaurants and wine stores who possessed much ignorance of the Massachusetts wine industry, failing to realize the quality that exists there.

I am using Maryland as an example and my point extends to citizens in every state. You need to have pride in your local wine industry, no matter where it fits on the spectrum of quality. Maybe your state doesn't make "championship" wine yet, but that still does not mean you shouldn't support it. Your support and pride in your local wine industry will give it an added incentive to improve, to raise its quality. Take some time to learn about your local wine industry and you might be surprised at the quality you discover.

Let your pride for your local sport teams extend to your local wineries!


Todd - VT Wine Media said...

Hear, hear!
Given that wine is now produced in all fifty US states, anyone with "local leaning" inclinations should definitely be periodically tasting what is fermenting in their neighborhoods...besides, some of those states don't have pro sport franchises, and folks should have something to root for.
I too hear self proclaimed foodies and food/beverage trade folks admitting that they do not know much about what is available locally, and have to wonder if they simply assume it must not be very good and do not seek it out, if one bad experience put them off, or if they are just not picking up on the marketing messages.
For anyone who IS interested in local wine, major media outlets are not going to be a help, but there is probably a wine blogger somewhere nearby who is a source of high quality information, and have all the stats on local 'players'.

cheap jersey said...

I too hear self proclaimed foodies and food/beverage trade folks admitting that they do not know much about what is available locally

Marco Montez said...


Our biggest challenge in Massachusetts is getting people to become aware that wine is made in our state and in some cases, with grapes that are grown right here. Before we can expect people to be proud of us, we need to find financially viable ways to let them know that we even exist. Not a week goes by that I meet someone who says "There's wine made in Massachusetts? Get out!?" It's not easy. Fortunately we have people like you to help us spread the word... I wish there were more like you :)

Richard Auffrey said...

Thanks for all the comments.

Todd, I agree that the mainstream media often ignores local wineries and that blogs can be a valuable source of info on such places.

Thanks Marco! We do need many more people promoting local wines all across the country. Part of the reason I joined the board of Drink Local Wine, to spread a passion and knowledge of local wineries.