“Other States” Wines…The Reputation Grows
I’ve worked with wineries outside the big three wine states (CA, WA, OR). Let me tell you, it is very very difficult to get a wine writer, let alone writers at the major wine magazines, to give consideration to wines from Michigan, Ohio, Texas and other states where the wines really can be quite good.
Bruce Shoenfeld of The Wine Spectator showed just how difficult it is to get America’s top wine magazine to give consideration to "other states" wines when he commented on Missouri wines in a story printed in the Springfield News Ledger on the up and coming wines of Missouri:
"I have some familiarity with Missouri wines. There’s no region of the country that doesn’t say it does well in blind tests. I have a hard time believing Missouri wines would do well (at tasting contests)….If you have a great meal in Missouri wine country, you want a great wine, not a norton."
This kind of attitude is common. It results from a number of factors. First, for a long time wines from "other states" really were not that good. Second, rarely is there an active promotional body in these states representing their wineries outside their home states. Third, most wine journalists have VERY LITTLE experience with the caliber or scope of wines from "other states". Fourth, because it is very difficult to find Missouri, Michigan, Texas or New Mexico wines in New York and San Francisco, Wine Journalists simply don’t write about these wines because they assume access to them is nearly impossible.
Reason number four is one reason why nationwide, legal direct shipment to consumers is probably just as important to "other states" wine industries as it is to California’s wine industries. Given the ability to ship wine across the country, Missouri’s wines would be perfectly available to wine lovers reading about them in magazines, newspapers and newsletters no matter where they live.
There is every reason to believe that as states begin to allow direct shipping we will see more acknowledgment of wines from a variety of states besides CA, WA and OR. In turn, this will lead to more "wine tourism" in those other states. This in turn leads to a broadening "wine economy" in these states.
Reputations are built slowly and built on the shoulders of quality-minded winemakers. Reputations can be built somewhat faster if the media is willing to look at these "other states" products with an open mind and palate. The reputation of a number of states is growing as we speak. Michigan for one is a state whose wines could grab the attention of a number of wine lovers. Texas too makes some outstanding wines.
I’m hoping we see direct shipping legislation open more markets and more minds.