Monday, October 13, 2014
Rant: Local Wine Ignorance
The time is now to battle ignorance about local wines.
Today starts the 7th Annual Drink Local Wine Week, an event founded by Drink Local Wine (DLW), an organization whose goal is to bring greater attention to regional wines. I am on the Board of Directors for this organization. Drink Local Wine Week is an annual event that encourages bloggers and wine columnists to write something about their local wines, to increase attention for local wines among both the wine trade and consumers. We want to combat local wine ignorance.
All fifty states now produce wine, so you can be assured that if you live in the U.S., you'll be able to find local wines which you can sample and taste. California, Oregon and Washington are not the only states producing worthy wines. The quality of wines in the other 47 states has been increasing over the years, and you can find some true gems all across the country. However, many wine lovers still don't know much about their local wines and that needs to change. Wines from the other 47 need to gain greater recognition, and that requires efforts on several fronts.
We can't forget that we are also close to both Canada and Mexico, and they produce some excellent, local wines too. If you live close to the borders, you should seek out their wines, and I'm sure you will be impressed with the quality of what you find. I've enjoyed wines from Mexico and various parts of Canada, so know the types of wines they are making, and they are worthy of your attention.
Local wines, first and foremost, need better local recognition, to become more well known in their own respective states. As I have traveled, I have found many residents who seem largely ignorant of the wineries in their own states. The biggest problem seems to be that many of those people make assumptions that the wines in their states are not that good, so they don't seek out the wines. That hurts local wineries as those residents are potential customers, ignorant of the worthy products in their region.
For example, in Massachusetts there are over 30 wineries, and many locals I have spoken to are unaware of most of those wineries. I have even spoken to local wine store owners who didn't know about some of the best wineries in Massachusetts. Some of those same stores promote all the local foods they carry, yet generally fail to carry a decent selection of local wines. These are people who know about wine, and who should be cognizant of the wines being made in their own state yet they still are ignorant. That is a significant problem as those wine stores won't carry local wine if they know nothing about it.
Local wineries need greater local recognition. They need to spread the word about themselves to the people in their own state, those who will most likely become their customers. Gaining a high score in Wine Spectator won't help much if the people in your state don't know you exist. Such wineries are better off gaining recognition in more local press, educating local residents about the wonders in their own backyard. They can benefit from holding large wine tasting events, gathering together a number of local wineries to show consumers what they can find in their own state. Locals who know about good local wineries can mention them to wine stores and others.
We help to enlighten local consumers, to shatter their preconceptions about those wines. More effort is needed as well, by local wineries, local media, wine bloggers, and others, to help spread the word.
Let us work together to destroy local wine ignorance.