The second session looked at the topic of drinking local. Dave McIntyre spoke of the founding of the Drink Local Wine Conference. Dave raised the issue of eat local and drink local. He asked, if you are eating Maryland lamb, why are you think of pairing that with a California wine? He then introduced the panel and asked them to speak about the eat local/drink local theme and the image of Maryland wine.
Jerry Pellegrino, chef at Waterfront Kitchen, mentioned his first case of wine was from Woodhall Wine Cellars. His restaurant has about twenty Maryland producers with wine on his restaurant’s wine list. Jerry noted that the eat local movement can grow faster than the drink local movement. The wine industry is lagging a bit behind, but things are changing just as they did with the eat local movement. Today the eat local farmers can supply the restaurant’s needs. He sees a similar thing with Maryland wineries. However he hasn’t noted that many local people visiting the restaurant are requesting Maryland wines.
Jerry cautioned that just because it is local doesn’t mean that he will want to put it on his menu. The food as well as the wines still need to be good and have people want to eat and drink them.
Jade Ostner, director of events for the Maryland Winery Association, spoke of wine events in Maryland. She noted that the customer has changed over the years. People attend events for the events rather than the wines. Jade is creating events such as “Eat, Drink and Go Local” that has a different format than festivals. Other events include events that may emphasize a Maryland’s winery library wines. Jade mentioned that there are still wine festivals. But a turning point includes additional formats other than festivals. Jade also spoke of Maryland Wine Week where many Maryland restaurants will serve Maryland wine that week.
Al Spoker, co-host of Cellar Notes/Radio Kitchen WYPR Radio, stated that we do not have a wine culture in Maryland and as such the wine industry does not have the benefits of a several hundred years wine culture. The image of eat local is growing; farmers’s names are known. On the other hand this is not the case for winemakers and wine growers. Al mentioned the importance of a new Maryland law that will permit the sale of wine at farmers markets. He noted that there is nothing that will stop the making of good wine in Maryland.