I had dinner in a Salisbury, Maryland restaurant where I asked for a local wine. There is a winery just a few miles from the restaurant. The waiter returned with a list of California wines. Three thousand miles isn’t exactly local. One of the challenges of the drink local wine movement is getting local wines into restaurants and having customers order them.
An idea suggested by Hunter Hammett, sommelier at the Fairmont Hotel, was to delete the Texas page from the menu and integrate it into the rest of the menu. He told the attendees that people at the restaurant would turn past the Texas page on the menu. He focuses on the grape varietal not where the wine was produced. His restaurant has 25 Texas wines on the list and sells them by the glass giving patrons an opportunity to taste Texas wines.
Gil Kulers, a chef who writes for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, mentioned that Atlanta restaurants are resistant to local wine, even though they readily accept local food. Restaurateurs are concerned that if they have dinners that feature local wines, they may not be able to sell out.
Doug Caskey, Colorado Wine Industry Development Board, stated that some restaurants in Denver are beginning to offer Colorado wine, beer and spirits on list. It takes time to change the mind set. For example, the idea that when in Aspen visitors want to drink wine from the great world wine regions needs to change to when in Aspen visitors should have the opportunity to experience the taste of the place.
The panel put forth that consumers might very well have a double standard. If they travel to France, they want to experience local wine and food. However, if many of the same people travel to Texas they do not have the same interest in experiencing local food and wine.
What do you think?