I want to jot a few of my thoughts down about how my tastes have evolved in this intense business over the last decade. The following chatter is not to say that i am right or wrong, or that Sour Grapes has wines that are better than anyone else's wines in the Carolinas. It is just to answer some common questions i get and to let people know where i stand today. I always say that i am not a connoisseur of wines, but i drink a lot - therefore, i am qualified.
When i first began learning about wine, i dove head first in the study of Oenology. Nothing really captivated me the way winemaking did. There are so many aspects that are involved and i always enjoyed helping to cultivate our vegetable garden while i was young in Virginia. Some of my family made their own hooch and still do, but that is another story for another day. I wanted to know everything scientific about the winemaking process. I wanted to know what made a wine do this or that. I had to know what made a wine have more weight, texture, fruit, etc. It seriously irked me when i was surrounded by a group of wine folk talking about how to "re-adjust" alcohol or was this carbonic maceration or whole cluster fermentation, etc. I was truly engrossed in the science of oenology. Man, through his infinite wisdom, had been able to cultivate, manipulate and conquer such a seductive beverage and i knew i was seriously hooked. I was drinking some seriously opulent vino in those days. I really couldn't taste any subtleties in those days anyway.
As time rolled on (thankfully) and i began looking for other things besides full-blown juice, i began researching more and more about viticulture. I believe everyone has this typical progression, but it takes some people longer to move. I started looking into processes and ingredients and manipulation. At the same time, my tastes just moved toward wines that represented where they were grown. I started drinking wines with my wife that had authenticity, lower alcohol and in particular, were better food wines. I could not even stomach the stuff i used to drink. I began cooking more, eating a bit healthier and i cannot go back. It was the same move with my job and i really only sold wines from smaller producers after that. This really was corporate suicide for me as the large distributor i worked for was moving in a different direction. They wanted me to be passionate about whatever they could make the most money with. Let's put it this way, we used to sit around sampling the same wines over and over again. Those meetings were brutal and those wines were pitiful. Over time, they tasted stripped or raped, lifeless and mundane. Nothing unique, not expressing any individuality and they all tasted similar. They were the same whether you had them with food or not. To be honest, they tasted like shit (i looked at a thesaurus, but there is not a better word for me to use to describe these wines). Long story short, i feel American consumers can be stagnant. I think it is due to a large part of the branding of foods, wines, clothes, etc. in our society. Inordinate amounts of money and time are spent luring the consumer to stay right where they are forever. Recently while driving through the triangle of NC, i noticed a lot of higher end cars (yes, jaguars) parked in front of trailer homes. I thought to myself while listening to some flight of the conchords http://bit.ly/D38wi, that i need to save these lost people. These are the same consumers who drink wines with critters on the labels. They have been drinking the same shit that was good in 1985 from the only issue of Wine Spectator that they ever read. They lack substance. They are easily consumed with labels or status symbols. People simply get trapped by the sirens, like in Homer's Odyssey. This absolutely drives me bonkers. How can you go through life only eating at one restaurant or wearing the same damn shirt? They are static and boring to me with their choices and these days i am on a mission to educate and force them to seek options. Consistency definitely has taken root in the world of wine. I am convinced that consistency in wine is bad and Sour Grapes is here to spearhead the move from the uniform. People - go experience all that the world has to offer. You might find something you like.