Earlier this year, after I wrote about the difficulty of finding the so-called “New California” wines, I was introduced to Aaron Epstein, a San Diego-based entrepreneur and new father who operates Le Metro. Wine. Underground, a subscription direct-to-consumer retailer. To use the modern lingo, Epstein “curates” a monthly selection of six wines according to various themes. March was New California, and July is “From Sea to Shining Sea.” He has put together a great selection of wines from across the country other than the West Coast.
Aaron and I traded some emails as he was putting this collection together, and I could sense his enthusiasm as he tasted the wines and asked me for suggestions. (“There’s only room for six!” he reminded me at one point.) Here’s what he came up with:
- La Garagista, 2013 Coup de Foudre Pétillant Naturel, Vermont, made with Brianna grapes.
- Ravines Wine Cellars 2012 Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes, New York.
- McPherson Cellars, 2013 Les Copains Rosé, Texas High Plains, Texas.
- Wollersheim Winery, 2013 Domaine du Sac, Marechal Foch/Millot, Lake Wisconsin, Wisconsin.
- Ankida Ridge 2012 Pinot Noir, Virginia
- Creekside Cellars 2012 “Franc,” 100% Cabernet Franc, Grand Valley, Colorado.
Not only did Epstein come up with a great selection, but he even found one (the Garagista) that I’d never even heard of. I love it when the youngsters school me on something.
Epstein’s selection, and his enthusiasm for it, demonstrate again the increasing acceptance of regional wines both on the West Coast and among younger consumers. I can’t stress this point enough, and have a recent anecdote to illustrate the generational difference and how millennials are the best market-driving audience for these wines.
I was at a recent Rhone Rangers dinner at Charlie Palmer Steak in Washington, sitting between a 20-something winemaker from a Northern Virginia winery and an acquaintance of mine I first met in the late 1980s when I had more time to loiter in wine stores. As we discussed the impressive growth of Virginia wines, my friend sniffed, “I tried Virginia wines when I first came to Washington in the 1970s, and I didn’t like them.”
No, really, I swear this actually happened. She said that. There are still people out there with that attitude. But attitudes are changing, more rapidly now than ever, and people like Epstein and his customers, with their curiosity and adventurous palates, are helping fuel that change.