How Local Is Local? #MWWC12

It remains to be a crazy life these days for the Sybarite.  There has been so much travel for work and for fun but either way it does not leave a lot of free time to write.  I saw the reminder for the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge and figured it would be a fun way to get back into the swing of writing.

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This month’s theme is “Local.”  I personally try to drink a lot of local wine not only because I happen to live in a region that produces really delicious examples of my favorite varietals, but also because you get a lot of great stuff from boutique produces that you would otherwise miss out on if you shopped mainstream.  I find the people that produce 1,000 to 5,000 cases a year really put a lot of passion into every bottle and also have the time and ability to really coax the best out of the fruit.

The question that needs to be asked when it comes to wine is, “How local is local?”  I live in California and it seems that I can walk into any major grocery store here and find a decent smattering of wine produced here in California.  Is that local enough?  It certainly is more local for me than a person who lives in say, Nebraska or some other place that I’m never going.  But what if you live in one of those places?  What do you do then to drink local?  Should you be forced to drink lower quality just because it’s local?  Today Ms. Sybarite and I went up to our friend’s farm for a harvest festival which I thought fit well with the theme so I will supply you with some pictures of that.

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There are only 3 states in the United States that don’t produce wine.  Can you guess them?  One is pretty easy so I will just confirm to you that Alaska does not produce wine.  The other two might be a little tougher: North Dakota and Wyoming.  Did you guess that?  Yes?!?  Well, this isn’t a game show.  Over 90% of the wine produced in the USA is produced right here in California which I guess is good for me, but that little bit of trivia also means that unless you live in one of those states, you should be able to seek out some local wine.

I personally have had wine while I was in New Mexico and it was probably some of the most awful swill I have ever consumed.  I don’t want to condemn a whole state based on one experience, but I definitely would not be too excited if a friend gave me a New Mexican bottle of wine.  I know in the midwest, fruit wines rule the land.  Or maybe not rule the land but definitely are a part of the culture.  I’m not a huge fan.  Maybe I haven’t had a good one, and that’s a fair argument to make, but still…boo.  I fully acknowledge that I am spoiled by living in a great wine area, but what I have had from many other places that aren’t what I would consider “local” for me, really isn’t yummy.  Around the USA anyway.  I have had great wine from other countries but I thought that would be obvious that other countries aren’t exactly local.

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So where does this leave us?  I think with wine you should go for quality over proximity.  Beer you can definitely go for proximity.  Not because I believe that beer is more pedestrian or can’t be as interesting or complex as wine, but because there is really good beer coming from all over the place and the ingredients are not as dependent on growing region.  I also think people should try and seek out local food because it just tastes better when its fresher.  And it’s way better for the earth to eat what is close to you especially when it comes to meat.  That’s part of the reason we support our friend’s farm.  Not everyone can live in a place where you can produce everything (like California) and not every square mile of this great land is going to be all milk and honey and amazing wine.  Make some effort to seek out the best of what’s around you but don’t forget your Sybarite roots!  The whole reason I started this blog is because I want people to enjoy great consumables.  I don’t see any reason why you should have to eat and drink garbage because it’s local.  There are plenty of other ways to reduce your carbon consumption in order to offset your, “food miles.”  I don’t know about you, but if I lived somewhere without good wine, I would start biking to work or something to absolve myself of the guilt of drinking wine that had to be shipped from a great producing region.  I think the only answer is, move near wine.  It’s the only solution to all the problems.

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Also, in case you were wondering, we had a bottle of the 2013 Figge Cellars Gewürztraminer with dinner.  It’s a hot day and we wanted something light.  It’s good.  You can tell it’s a well-made wine because there is nothing off-putting about it, no harsh flavors or bitterness, but I just don’t love the flavor that these grapes produced when grown here in Monterey County.  Totally drinkable and great for a hot day like today but not what I was hoping it would be.

9 thoughts on “How Local Is Local? #MWWC12

  1. Great post. I did one a year or so ago about the downside of eating local here in Ann Arbor. We’re fanatic about support local businesses and some are taking advantage of it by charging exorbitant prices – e.g. $5 for one tiny scoop of ice cream. We have some decent wines here in Michigan, but I’m seeing prices 2x more than what they’re worth. So while I’m for all the good that comes with local, I’m hoping market pressures put them back in alignment.

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