October 28th’s winechat talking Drinking Local was fast and furious!
We were fortunate enough to have the rock star combination of Jason Phelps of Ancient Fire Wine, an amateur award winning home winemaker from New Hampshire, and Sandra Oldfield, the CEO and winemaker for Tinhorn Creek located in British Columbia, leading us through the discussion.
Here are the main themes that were discussed (thanks Jason!):
- Drinking local allows for you to really engage with the winemaker and owner. Visiting local wineries allow relationships to be built up over time while supporting local producers.
- Drinking local creates and retains jobs in the area you live in – always a good thing!
- Price controversies exist. Sure, it’s probably cheaper to buy from a big box winery as they are able to reduce prices due to volume. Small, local wineries are small businesses that can’t distribute their fixed costs across many bottles like the big boys do.
- It can be difficult for small local wineries to distribute their wines rather than directly from their tasting rooms.
- Labeling laws are confusing to consumers. That Cabernet you just bought from Napa Valley can have 25% of a different grape in it (such as Merlot) and have 15% of the grapes sourced from outside the Napa Valley AVA per labeling laws. And let’s not even get started on the accuracy of the alcohol percentage! So, when it comes to drinking local, it’s possible that some grapes are sourced from elsewhere and the wine is made in the state. Growing the grapes is one part of the story, creating beautiful wine is another part. Ask your local winemaker what they do!
As I was traveling, I missed part of the conversation but wound up discussing local wines a lot this week. I was in Moab, Utah, about 90 minutes away from Grand Junction, Colorado where most residents of Moab do their real shopping.
At least one of the wineries in Moab sources grapes from this area of Colorado but consider this local. Another winery thought that this wasn’t considered local.
What do you think? If it’s a place close enough to do your regular shopping, yet it’s technically another state, is this local? Does it “break the rules?”