We love discovering and experiencing new wineries, but current events have made that very difficult. An annual trade show highlighting European wineries looking for a U.S. presence was presented virtually this time, but it was still fascinating.
The executives at the Association pour la Promotion des Vins et Spiritueux en Amérique du nord, or APVSA, coordinated and moderated the event on WebEx. There was plenty of information in advance about participant wineries and the essential mechanics of a virtual tasting event. As a truly world-wide event, attendees had to adjust their schedules to enjoy this live conference. For our timezone, it meant being ready at 8:00am, which was not too much of a sacrifice, other than the incongruity of discussing the nuances of fine wine while sipping on a steaming cup of coffee.
As usual, the array of wineries presenting was as fascinating as it was varied. As a live video event, APVSA staff introduced each winery in turn, whereupon the winery representative presented a capsule overview on the winery and followed with an in-depth review of several of their wines. As each winery made their presentation, some common themes emerged. In general, these were small family wineries, although the age of the wineries showed an amazing range. One winery was founded in 1842, while another launched in 2017, with every age in between. The phrase “fifth generation winemaker” was used more than once. Many of the wineries offered additional reasons to visit them (once that is possible again), with the most common feature being a Bed & Breakfast. Given the incredible buildings and grounds shown in the presentations, this was an inviting opportunity. A more unique feature of one winery was a great view of a stage of the Tour de France.
Another common theme was a focus on creating wines that expressed the unique aspects of their locale, terroir, and weather. This fine tuning is a bit beyond the capabilities of the mega-wineries, and is one of our favorite aspects of small lot wines. There was some discussion of what was called “historic vines” which is a term for ancient grape varietals that are not widely used beyond their birthplace. The most unexpected theme was the experimentation with orange wine, in this case a Sauvignon Blanc wine made with extended skin contact and oak aging.
Many of the wineries reported on their progress toward obtaining certification as Organic or Biodynamic operations. It was refreshing to hear about their eco-friendly and bee-friendly vineyard practices. Unlike the U.S. there is a strict and well-respected European certification process that requires three years of proven operation following organic agriculture guidelines before receiving the official seal of approval.
The most common theme from all of these wonderful presentation was a yearning for a return to normal life and the ability to interact face-to-face with their beloved wine lovers. Cheers to that!
About the Author: John grills a mean steak and is always in the market for another wine fridge. Believes that if a winery has more than 10 employees, it's probably too big. Buys wine faster than he drinks it, but who cares?