With an official day of thanks around the corner, it’s a good time to reflect and be grateful for all of the exciting things that are happening in our corner of the wine world.
• North Carolina wineries are shining, offering well-made, tasty wine served with Southern hospitality to visitors and making a trip to wine country a delight.
• There are so many wonderful, locally owned wine shops with interesting selections, knowledgeable staff, exciting tastings and events. If you sign up for newsletters at all the shops within a 5-mile radius of your house, you could be busy every night of the week. They’ll share their love of wine with you, and you support local business. A win for everybody.
• The reign of the snobby sommelier is over, and good riddance. Today’s wine-service professionals are the opposite of snobby. Engage with any of the enthusiastic, professional and trained wine staff at many restaurants and be pleasantly surprised. They’ll help, if you want, without being overbearing, and the goal is to choose the best wine for you, not necessarily the most expensive.
• Lots of wineries these days are looking for ways to step a bit more gently on the earth, moving toward creating sustainable vineyards and wineries. There is quite a move toward creating packaging that lowers the carbon footprint of shipping, and I expect we’ll see even more recyclable, lightweight packaging in the next few years.
• It seems like another cool, wine-friendly restaurant opens every day. It is thrilling to me to find creative wine lists in so many places. Heck, even my neighborhood Thai place offers both a sancerre and a rioja.
• It’s not like you need to have any knowledge to pick a wine, but I am really enjoying the sense of confidence consumers are gaining these days, and it’s way more fun for folks selling wine. It’s coming from great wine classes and tastings. There is a real sense of adventure and enthusiasm happening with wine drinkers.
• A winemaker friend from Napa Valley called the other day and said it’s been the most glorious harvest season he can remember, with perfect fruit practically hopping off the vines. We’ll have some good juice coming our way in a year or two.
• It’s not wine, but the explosion of the craft beer scene in Charlotte is very exciting, too. Most wine people are food and beer people, too. When any locally crafted product starts to get popular, it’s great news for the whole food scene.