May 252012
 

At last month’s Drink Local Wine Conference in Denver, a debate arose about whether being ‘local’ is enough merit for consumers to drink regional wines. After all, some among us go out of our way to buy local produce and meats from farmers’ markets and fruits stands. So, why not purchase local wines as well?

Now, just so we are on the same page, local wine is, as the Washington Post’s Dave McIntyre says, “wine from around here, wherever ‘here’ is.” For example, if you live in Michigan, wines from the state of Michigan would be local to you.

So, what was the crux of the argument? Some claimed that being local should be enough for consumers to purchase and support regional wines. Others argued that local wines should be held to the same standard as wines from more established areas such as California or France, and if they weren’t, that they were inherently inferior. I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Based on my experience with local wines over the past several years, there are great wines being made all over the United States. But, there is also a fair amount of bad wine as well. Should people drink crappy wine, just because it is local? No. Nor should they expect a Cabernet Sauvignon from Virginia to taste like one from Napa Valley. The growing conditions and winemaking preferences are too different for that to make sense.

So, to regional winemakers I say, “get out and taste wines that aren’t yours or your immediate neighbors’.” How do you know that your wines are commercially viable/competitive if you don’t know what others are doing? To consumers I say, “get out and try something new.” Buy a wine from your area. If it’s poor quality, oh well, you are richer for the experience. Even better, let the producer know. If it’s good, however, you’ve just discovered a gem that few of us in the rest of the country have access to. Isn’t that worth something?

  One Response to “Should consumers drink local wines, just because they are local?”

  1. Totally agree with you Mike, it’s so important for winemakers to not get too locked in to their wines. The consumers should be willing to take risks with local wines, and the retailers should be willing to taste and stock local wines to sell to those consumers.

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