Aside from the The Atlantic magazine, the occasional dividend check, and the weekly NYT Book Review, rarely do I look forward to the arrival of mail. However, on Wednesday, a much-anticipated piece of mail arrived via post at the Morgan’s — the Fall 2011 issue of Flavor Magazine.
For those living beyond the reach of the mid-Atlantic region of the US, Flavor Magazine is the only independent publication dedicated to local food, Virginia wine, and sustainable agriculture in the D.C./Virginia/Maryland area.
Although I am a long-time reader of Flavor, I eagerly awaited the arrival of this particular issue for my own selfish reasons (ugh, a sad example of self-indulged blogging here). This month’s issue marks my first article for the magazine.
Given Flavor’s ‘local focus on local,’ I jumped right in with a controversial subject that many Virginia wine industry folks are not willing to discuss publically (in print), and one that few consumers are aware of — the use of out-of-state grapes and juice in Virginia wine.
As part of gathering information for this piece, I contacted about three-dozen winemakers and winery owners to solicit their thoughts on the use of imported fruit and juice in Virginia wine. As usual, most of the people of the Virginia wine industry were more than willing to help and provide their opinions on this topic. However, a few of the winemakers made clear that this article ‘would not be appreciated by the industry (I disagreed),’ and one noted directly that an article on this subject ‘serves no use other than to stir things up and confuse customers.‘ Again, I disagree. These reactions served as the catalyst for my decision restart the ‘Use of Concentrates’ article that I previously put aside for similar reasons.
I applaud Flavor Publisher Melissa Harris and Editor Pam Hess for devoting ink to this touchy subject, and raising awareness among their readers. As a result of reading this article, I could only hope a few consumers ask about the origins of the grapes in the wine they taste during their next visit to a Virginia winery tasting room.
I would like to thank winemakers like Jordan Harris, Jake Busching, Jim Dolphin, Stephanie Wright, Kirsty Harmon and others who were gracious with their time for this piece and were willing to share their opinions on the record.
I’m not going to recap the article here, the entire piece can be read by picking up a copy of Flavor at your local bookstore, boutique wine shop, grocery store or newsstand. Or, the article can be read online (for a limited time, I believe).
A question for Virginia wine enthusiasts — what say you? How do you feel about out-of-state grapes, juice and concentrates being used to make ‘Virginia’ wine? Winemakers — what say you?
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