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Wine: A few chances to drink local

Sommelier Brian Cook includes local wines on his restaurant lists. (Dayna Smith for The Washington Post)

One of the biggest obstacles facing local wine is the difficulty of getting onto store shelves and restaurant wine lists. There are just so many good wines out there, and space on a shelf or list is limited. That's why local wines are often relegated to novelty status – something purchased at a festival or during a weekend jaunt to a winery.

This is changing, but slowly. Some sommeliers, such as Andrew Stover at Oya and Sei in the District, and Brian Cook at Blue Ridge in the District and Redwood in Bethesda, include regional wines on their lists. They are walking the walk; if we are to “eat local” and support local farmers, we should “drink local” and support local wineries, too. But these are still the exception rather than the rule.

The Virginia Wine Marketing Office and the Virginia Tourism Bureau are trying to change that next week with Virginia Wine Week, March 22-28. The campaign is called “Love By the Glass,” a play on the state's venerable tourism slogan, “Virginia is for Lovers.” The campaign promotes restaurants, wine bars and wine shops that feature at least two Virginia wines by the glass.

“Visitors to Virginia want to experience local history, culture and of course, local food and wine,” said Alisa Bailey, President and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation. “It’s important for visitors to find local wine on menus in Virginia’s restaurants, and Virginia Wine Week will help encourage that.”

This is a worthy effort, and dozens of restaurants and shops have signed up across the state. However, only a few are in the close-in D.C. suburbs of Northern Virginia. Majestic restaurant in Old Town Alexandria (part of the Restaurant Eve group) is participating, as is Raw Silk, an Indian restaurant, and Seagars at the Old Town Hilton. The Mount Vernon Inn is honoring the General's local vino, and Whole Foods Market in Vienna is staying true to the company slogan of great stuff “from around here.”

But what about everyone else? Is it really too hard to feature two local wines for one week? You might be surprised when out-of-towners want to try the local product. And who knows? Your neighbors might be hankering for a taste, too.

-- Dave McIntyre
(Follow me on Twitter.)

By The Food Section  |  March 18, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Wine  | Tags: Dave McIntyre, wine  
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DC and MD wines that are any good are generally still not worth the high prices. And most local wines are still no good at all. It may take years of trial and error to match variety, location, and wine-making practices so that the price reflects the quality, including the opportunity cost of not buying a better wine for less from somewhere else.

Posted by: ocassiuso | March 18, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

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