Eat, Walk, Drink, Eat, Gamble, Drink, Walk, Eat…

I head out Wednesday for a few days in my favorite American city: New Orleans. The National Conference of State Legislatures is having its annual Legislative Summit and Direct Shipment of Wine is on the agenda.

While the majority of my time will be spent at the Ernest Morial Convention Center and in meetings with colleagues, I will have some time to re-explore a city I’ve never been able to get enough of. In the numerous times I’ve been to New Orleans I’ve found myself variously elated, repulsed, depressed, frightened, inspired, awed and surprised by what I’ve seen, experienced, eaten and and avoided.

New Orleans wears its history and its foibles on its sleeve and can’t find the nerve to apologize for any of it. This is what I like most about the city. It’s people and the city’s culture are comfortably at home and content with its equally amazing and forbodding personality.No3

This won’t be like most of my trips to New Orleans. I like to go for 5-7 days at a time and spend each of those days doing the same thing: Eat, walk, drink, eat, gamble, drink, walk, eat…repeat. This time it’s business. And while I’m looking to accomplish a lot on behalf of wine retailers and wine consumers who merely want the chance to do business together, I really do wish I were going to New Orleans to eat, walk, drink, eat, gamble, drink, walk, eat…repeat.

The panel on direct shipping should be informative and even a bit contentious. Among those addressing legislators from across the country and their aides who will be in attendance are Tracy Genesen of Kirkland & Ellis and one of the leading wine lawyers in America, Steve Gross from the California Wine Institute who knows the state of America’s wine laws as well as anyone, Stephen  Diamond of the University of Miami School of Law and who is not a friend to wine loving consumers and Associate General Counsel Karin Moore of the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, one of the leading opponents of free and fair trade in wine.

The fact that Direct Shipping is on the agenda at this conference indicates that alcohol legislation remains a high priority for many lawmakers. This should not come as a surprise. It’s not too much to suggest that the state of American alcohol laws is in greater flux today than at nearly any time since the end of Prohibition.

So while vigorously and intelligently representing Specialty Wine Retailers Association will be constantly on my mind frNo5om Wednesday through Saturday, I will be looking for a few hours to soak up the evil goodness that is New Orleans.

It’s a bit ironic that I go to New Orleans this time in defense of wine and wine drinkers and wine retailers because New Orleans has never been a place where I’ve had much desire at all to indulge in wine. New Orleans has always been a place I’ve found much better suited to bourbon, the Sazerac, the Gin Fiz, and even the occasional Hurricane when I’ve finally abandoned all good sense (the Hurricane is a nasty, nasty drink that one should only consume in pinch or if one finds themselves inexplicably in front of Pat O’Brien’s late at night and within walking distance of a good bed).

Word is that while a good portion of New Orleans is coming back to life after Katrina, much of the city is still
a dead zone. I’ve heard people suggest that New Orleans should never have been built where it is and shouldn’t be rebuilt given its lower than sea level disposition—making it is just a disaster waiting to happen again. Not rebuilding New Orleans exactly where it is strikes me as being a notion just as evil as the City itself, but not nearly as delicious as the city itself.

4 Responses

  1. lovin - July 21, 2008

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  2. Steve from winescorecard - July 22, 2008

    I was just in New Orleans a few weeks back. Certainly the French Quarter and the Warehouse District are back to life, but much of the rest is not. If you have time, it is worth the 1 hour and $60 to take a tour of some of the hurricane damage – you can sign-up at River Walk.
    As for wine in the Big Easy, I would agree it isn’t what I first think of. I tend to be a bourbon drinker when in New Orleans, not because there is better bourbon there, but it just seems to fit me when I visit.

  3. WineGent - July 22, 2008

    The fight to direct ship has been the political hot potato of my generation. Living in a state with antiquated laws the prohibit direct purchase of wine (Maryland), I pray that the ongoing lobbying efforts will ultimately succeed. Thank God I have an office in Virginia that I ship to that allows me to circumvent the law. Good luck in your efforts this week….I hope to see this fight won in my lifetime… WineGent

  4. Marco - July 22, 2008

    The Delachaise for a good wine bar with good food.

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