Farm-to-table restaurants are all the rage in the American dining scene. Real food, locally sourced, thoughtfully prepared. It’s great. Organic veggies, pasture-raised animals, seasonal selections, local beer, craft cocktails and international wines. No, seriously, there’s often not a single local wine on the list. Not even regional… No Maryland. No Virginia. No New York.
I would understand this situation if there weren’t seriously delicious wines being made in these regions. A restaurateur can’t ask a guest to tolerate a bad wine because it’s local any more than they can ask a guest to tolerate a bad steak because it’s local. But the fact is that local wine is making a serious run.
Eat local food, drink local wine.
Lenn Thompson, executive editor of The New York Cork Report, has long said, "Good wine can be made in any state — it just takes the right grapes in the right places handled by the right people." I love that. It’s true. A good vineyard site, meticulous farming, thoughtful cellar practices and personal commitment will yield wines that display complexity, character and, most importantly, are a joy to drink.
Don’t get me wrong, not all local wine is fit for a prestigious wine list. I get that. But just like any other ingredient, the best local wines are worth seeking out. And the best wines of a particular region should be featured by restaurants that preach farm-to-table.
Vignerons are farmers. Trust me, I know. At Old Westminster Winery, we pour our hearts and souls into growing great American wines on our Maryland farm. We’re working tirelessly on our mission to put Maryland wine on the world map. This starts with winning the minds of influential restaurateurs, chefs and sommeliers.
We are so thankful for the numerous and prestigious restaurants in our region that do feature our wines.
I don’t intend this blog post to shame or insult restauranteurs without local wines on their menus. Rather, I hope it inspires folks to recognize local wine as local agriculture and a serious and beautiful addition to any wine list.
If you’re not a restaurateur, then I strongly encourage you to make sure your favorite restaurants know that you want to see local wines on their lists. But don’t just ask for them, buy them.
Drink local wine. It’s not only delicious, it’s meaningful.