Swirling, Sipping, and Tweeting in Texas
Several dozen writers, bloggers, wine lovers and winemakers descended on Dallas this past weekend for the first-ever DrinkLocalWine.com conference. Thoughtful and spirited discussions of ways to spread the message about “wine from around here” -- wherever “here” may be -- were followed by a thoroughly enjoyable and oh-so-social-media-trendy “Texas Twitter Tasteoff” of about 45 wines from the Lone Star State.
Some people outside Texas apparently don't realize the state even produces wine. In fact, there are now 177 Texas wineries, compared to about 140 in Virginia, and Texas vies with Virginia for status as the fifth-largest wine producing state. Like other regional wine industries, however, most Texas wineries are quite small and their wines rarely travel across state lines.
While the conference had a decided Texas twang, it was really about the growing popularity of local wines across the country and how to expand on that. The audience at Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts in Dallas included bloggers from as far afield as Colorado, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, and even California, many of whom tapped away at their laptops during the presentations and the tasting. Bloggers were a key audience for the conference – after all, DrinkLocalWine.com was created last year (by Dallas writer Jeff Siegel, aka The Wine Curmudgeon, and myself) as a portal site to link to bloggers covering regional wines from around North America.
And bloggers are an idea channel to reach regional wine’s key market – millennials. Richard Leahy, East Coast editor of Vineyard &Winery Management and also a blogger, made a persuasive argument that millennials are more open-minded about regional wines than older drinkers because they don’t care about which wines are endorsed by Robert Parker or the Wine Spectator. They would rather taste the wine for themselves than rely on others to tell them what to drink.
At the Texas Twitter Tasteoff (which you can follow by searching for #dlw09 on Twitter), the winning red was a tempranillo-cabernet blend from Inwood Estates in northern Texas. Deep colored, spicy and bold, the wine reminded me of a modern-style Spanish red from Ribeira del Duero.
The other winners included a racy and vibrant pinot blanc from Flat Creek Estate, a “port” styled sweet red from Sandstone Cellars, and a nearly unanimous crowd favorite, a “Madeira” from Haak Vineyards & Winery made from an exotic hybrid grape called blanc de bois. I had never heard of this grape before this weekend. Texas sure can keep a secret.
-- Dave McIntyre
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