It’s been three months since I’ve posted here. That’s a factor of fatigue, I don’t mind acknowledging. I’ve still been writing my weekly wine columns for The Washington Post, of course, and will link to those here in future in case you missed them. But that’s not why I’m back.
Five years ago, when Jeff Siegel and I created Drink Local Wine, we complained that the mainstream media (or “winestream media”) ignored U.S. wine that wasn’t produced in California, Oregon or Washington. There were structural reasons for that, as well as cultural bias against emerging wine states. The situation has changed dramatically. Virginia and Colorado are often included in travel articles touting visits to “wine country” (a development foreshadowed here), and the growth of the U.S. wine industry outside of the West Coast has been chronicled by none other than Jancis Robinson and Linda Murphy in their excellent book, American Wine.
And now regional wine has made the New York Times. And the funny papers. But I get ahead of myself.
First, the Times. If you haven’t seen the wonderful article from July 7, here it is. It’s called “Virginia Wines: In the Old Dominion, a New Terroir,” but the article’s significance goes beyond its focus on Virginia. This was a page-1 spread on the Sunday Business section that continued over two full pages inside. A major article, thoroughly researched and beautifully written by Adrienne Carter. She followed Luca Paschina of Barboursville Vineyards as he tried to sell his wines to retailers and restaurateurs in New York. The article isn’t just about Barboursville – Carter uses Paschina to represent Virginia, and Virginia to represent the “other 47.” She chronicles the difficulty regional winemakers face in getting their wines onto crowded retail shelves and restaurant lists and the grunt work and dedication required to make the sale. Carter has written a business story, not a wine story, and she has treated her subject with respect and not the usual condescension for local wines. The article was accompanied by a graphic demonstrating the growth of the wine industry throughout the United States.
And then there’s the funny papers. In today’s “Barney and Clyde” strip, penned by Washington Post humorist Gene Weingarten, his son Dan Weingarten, and David Clark, Virginia sparkling wine gets a mention. They could have said “California champagne,” or Korbel, or even André, for goodness’ sake. But they didn’t. We can argue about the implications of the joke, but this much is clear: The idea of Virginia wine is engrained enough that these writers felt they could refer to it without explanation.
I’ll toast to that.