Sunday, April 25, 2010

If local food, why not local wine?

The panel started with an introduction for the panelists; Todd Kliman, Washingtonian Magazine, author, "The Wild Vine: A Forgotten Grape and the Untold Story of American Wine"; Andrew Stover, Chef Wino - a chef who travels to write about local wines; and Mary Watson-DeLauder, Lansdowne Resort, northern Virginia wine and cooking expert.

Mr. Kliman started by stating that local wine is not really an option in Washington D.C. The restaurants take the view that Virginia wines are exotic - like Hungary or South Africa. The restaurants will use locally grown food - but not the wine. They need sommeliers like Andrew and Mary, but refuse to hire non-tradition sommeliers.

Mr. Stover agreed with many of Kliman's points. Stover "pimps" wines from Idaho, Colorado, Arizona - but other restaurants don't push local wines because their clientele don't care. Recommends The Boulevard Woodgrill which has an all domestic wine menu. Younger audience is willing to dry new wines and will buy local wines.

Mary started by making several suggestions to wineries pushing their wines. Basically do you homework. Know their menu so you can suggest wine pairing. Satellite tasting rooms in more urban areas are another option.

The conversation turned to distribution and the cut taken by the 3 tier system. Jenny McCloud stated that she won't use a distribute since her margin is slow low. Jordan Harris from Tarara Vineyard & Winery stated that they are pushing distribution channels since they won't to gain more market share. Mike Wangbricker mentioned that selling Virginia wines requires a large effort by distributors so they don't bother. Jim Corcoran commented that Virginia now allows 3,000 cases of self distribution. Kliman - people who frequent white tablecloth restaurants purchase wine to impress, not to experiment.

Very good point about bringing chefs out to the wineries - let them know the stories of the wineries. Also, many Virginia wines are overpriced - Virginia makes to make more good well priced properly.
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