Friday, September 7, 2012

Where Good Wine Doesn't Come From

Beautiful places in the world may be fun, but don't expect
them to have awesome wine.  If grapes don't grow there,
you're probably not going to find great local wine. 
Sometimes things are just a little more evident than you want to admit. Things like just knowing that you should tie your shoes so you don't trip and fall. Another example that I learned at an early age is that you probably shouldn't trust canned food that doesn't have a label on it. Otherwise, your canned beans could actually be tuna.

In the wine world there are things that aren't so obvious on the surface, but when you really think about it you realize that wine that comes from certain parts of the world probably isn't the best wine. Chances are, it probably isn't even good wine.

I only say this because as I travel around the country, and see wine news and information from around the world, I see lots of places where wine probably shouldn't be getting made. I don't want to mention any particular wineries or specific regions, but let's think about this for a minute.

At the same time, wine grown and made in certain parts of the world really make sense. A few of those regions of success are Napa, Sonoma, Walla Walla, and Dundee. If you look at a label and it has one of those places noted on it as the area of origin you are pretty much looking at a good wine. Granted, bad wines happen from any area. But, the odds are in your favor.

What I'm talking about here is those times that you are driving through North Dakota and suddenly you see a roadside sign for Chateau Fargo. I'm not telling you to not stop. Heck, it probably is going to be a lot more entertaining than some giant ball of twine. However, please remember that you haven't just pulled into a farm in Bordeaux. You can't expect some deep dark Cabernet Sauvignon with lots of depth and structure.

Really, the same holds true of all the wineries that you experience as you drive along the British Columbia and Washington State coasts. So many times, when I'm in those areas, I see hundreds of cars pulled into these tasting rooms and lots of cases walking off the properties. When the wines are tasted though, the wine just simply lacks the ability to be called great. I know I'm going to get a lot of hate mail and letter bombs for saying this, but frankly you can't expect anything great from these wineries.

What can you expect from a winery from one of these areas? An “experience”. Nothing more and nothing less. You can't expect great wine. However, when you do experience great wines from these places you should shout about it.

One such vintners that I luckily found a couple of years ago was San Juan Vineyards. The Merlot there is time and again as good as any wine in the region. At the same time, I've found wineries such as the NOLA winery in New Orleans that offers great fruit wines from anything but grapes.

So, the next time you're traveling through Pennsylvania and you see road signs for a winery, go ahead and make a stop. I'm sure that the Amish make great wine from some alfalfa or something. Just don't expect the wine to taste like a fine Rhone. If it does, get the winery to send me a bottle. I'll taste it and if I agree I'll eat my words!


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