VintageTexas: It’s Good to Know We’ve Made a Difference
I was perusing my recent issue of Food & Wine Magazine (November 2014), when I spotted F&W Executive Wine Editor Ray Isle’s article titled “The Great American Wine Challenge”. He talked about his wine tasting experiences in places like Arizona, Texas, New York and Virginia.
My attention was focused as I read Ray’s lead-in where he described his not so good wine tasting experiences in Texas with his father many years ago. Then, he flashed forward to the 2013 Austin Food & Wine Festival and his narrative included his preliminary misgivings having accepted an invitation to be on a wine panel about Texas wine at the Austin festival. Ray said…
“But, as I tasted through the wines, what I felt instead was relief and, to be honest, a frisson of pride for my home state. The wines weren’t just good: they were very good.”
After reading this, I read it again and with the hairs on the back of my neck standing at attention, I set the magazine down on my lap with a smile on my face.
I said to myself, “I organized that Texas wine panel in Austin.” I also selected the wines and moderated the panel. As I sat there rewinding my memories of how it all unfolded, I recalled that It was only after muddling it over in my mind (should I, shouldn’t I, should I, etc.) that I decided to reach out to Ray. I knew it was a long shot getting this nation wine luminary on the panel. While the festival was sponsored by Food & Wine, national media types tend to go invisible when the words “local wine” are spoken. But, I wanted to see if Ray would be willing to be a member of the Texas wine panel was going tobe a good one. He would be joining Austin master sommeliers Craig Collins and Devon Broglie, and local advanced sommelier June Rodil. The only problem was…I did not have Ray’s contact info.
After realizing my dilemma, I called Austin-based Texas wine marketing maven Denise Clarke after recalling that she had been part of a previous Texas wine marketing delegation to New York City and by chance maybe she had the information I sought. Sure enough, Denise came through with Ray’s contact information and I made the connection with him and he accepted my invitation.
Ray’s comments in the Food & Wine magazine article continued with praise for one of the panel’s featured wines. He said…
“My favorite, a Tannat from Bending Branch Winery in Comfort, Texas – a little town of about 2,300 people that about as non-Napa-fancy as a town can be – was spicy, powerful and polished, and a good red wine as I’d tasted in the past several months.”
Ray also admitted that the Austin tasting was the first of his several eye-opening American wine experiences. For that, I was pleased to be part of Ray’s American “wine awakening”, too.
Thanks Ray for the shout out for our local Texas wines from your national stage. Also, thanks to Denise who came through for me when I needed critical information from her Texas wine marketing files. It feels good to know that we’ve made a difference in helping to get Texas wines the national respect they now deserve.