IYou can ask my wife: I’m a man of a million ideas, but with nowhere near as much ability (or sometimes interest) when it comes time to the follow-through.
It’s true. In my mind, I’ve started a magazine or three, written a handful of books, formed a quality-focused winery consortium for New York, launched a Long Island wine bus (a food truck, but serving the best local wine) and — well, you get the idea. I guess I’m a dreamer, and that makes the start of the new year a big holiday for me. Big ideas. Big plans.
New Year’s Day is the “I’ll start on Monday” of all “I’ll start on Mondays.”
I make a lot of resolutions, but I keep most of them to myself because I know that — like most of you — no matter how great the ideas or intent, they are unlikely to actually happen. Examples: Eat less and/or better. Exercise more. Be a better person/father/husband.
I have all the generic ones, but I also have an ever-changing list of wine-related resolutions. I tend to do far better with those, so I thought I’d share them with you. Maybe they’ll inspire your wine and wine country appreciation in 2018.
Resolution No. 1: Get a babysitter more often
My wife and I don’t dine out on the North Fork much. Not nearly enough. Two kids under age 11 will do that — even if one loves food and would be fine eating anywhere we go. This year, I want to use our babysitter more often and eat great food at great restaurants in wine country — places like Caci and The Halyard, places my friends in the Long Island wine industry rave about but that we just haven’t gotten to yet.
Resolution No. 2: Drink more sparkling wine
In my family, we drink bubbles for the holidays. I don’t mean just on New Year’s Eve (though we do that, too).
I mean from Christmas morning on, you’ll find sparkling wine in our glasses. Apparently, this year’s sampling from around the world had a permanent impact on my wife. She said to me just the other day, “I think I just want to drink sparkling wine all the time now. Still wines aren’t doing it for me.” I’m not willing to go that far, but with great sparkling wine available from just about every corner of the wine world, why not drink way more of it?
Resolution No. 3: Give local chardonnay another chance
Five to seven years ago, I largely gave up on local — and frankly, most domestic — Chardonnay. Whether flabby or watery or beaten with new oak, the wines just weren’t appealing. Even the soundly made ones didn’t interest me very much. I stopped reviewing them almost entirely and would often skip them when tasting at a winery, much to the chagrin of at least a few winemakers.
But, as I’ve dipped my toe back in recently, it’s clear a lot has changed. Better balance. Better use of mostly older oak. This is a category I need to start fresh with in 2018.
Resolution No. 4: Question my own biases
In a similar vein, I’ve written off quite a few Long Island wineries, and just stopped tasting their wines or visiting the tasting rooms. In doing so, I’m sure I’ve missed some delicious wines that are more than worthy of my attention. In a region where wine quality has improved so much in 10 years, it’s time to revisit several of these producers and give them another chance.
Resolution No. 5: Accept more speaking gigs
I’m a writer. I’m more comfortable behind a keyboard than most anywhere else on earth. As such, I turn down speaking gigs fairly regularly. Public speaking is way outside my comfort zone. Back in May, I was a panelist at the Virginia Wine Summit in Charlottesville and — surprise — I didn’t die. I’m going to be speaking at BevX 2018 in Washington, D.C., in February about how East Coast wineries can get the attention of writers and how to best engage with them. I suspect I won’t die because of that either. I’m going to turn down fewer of these opportunities in 2018. It’s another way for me to spread the gospel of local wines.
Resolution No. 6: Make plans to bring TasteCamp back to Long Island
In 2009, I created TasteCamp, a wine conference that gathers 30 or so wine writers in a wine region that’s probably new to them and immerses them in what that region has to offer. We walk vineyards, taste a lot of wine and spend a lot of time with growers and winemakers. That first event took place right here on Long Island. Since then, I’ve hosted it in the Finger Lakes, northern Virginia, Ontario, Quebec, Vermont, Maryland, the Hudson Valley — all up and down the East Coast.
Well, in 2019 I want to bring it back to my backyard. It takes a lot of planning to pull this off, so I’m going to start early. I’m looking forward to showing these writers how the region has evolved and changed in a decade.
A version of this piece first appeared in The Suffolk Times/northforker.com