The Washington wine folks are actively courting the young generation of wine drinkers by gearing their events to twenty- and thirty-somethings. The Washington Wine Commission, charged with promoting the state's vinous products, has been winning them over by replacing a lot of the old pomp and circumstance with more modern, higher-energy stuff.
Instead of having the crowds walk around from winery booth to winery booth, they seat everyone and have the winemakers come around to pour their wines and spend a few minutes talking to each small group at individual tables. Then a bell rings and the winemakers move on. Sort of like speed dating for vino. Featured restaurants provide the food. They hand out "It's Hip to Spit" buttons.
That sounds perfect to me, much more civilized than a crowd scene. Plus, you get to know the other wine-interested people hanging around you. Sweet, as my daughter would say.
In magazines, blogs, podcasts and videos aimed at today's younger generation, I keep reading that folks like me are irrelevant to them, that we're all old fogeys. I myself am what they would probably call a geezer, having discovered wine when I came of drinking age in 1968 (you do the math). I remember well the feeling that the generations ahead of me were keeping some sort of secret about this beverage, and it was not fun trying to figure it all out.
Wine writing was all about tradition, not the discovery of something fresh and new, which is what excited me. My age group was more into drinking beer, and they weren't too particular about it. But I found a few like-minded souls, and I also made friends with some of the older generation who were willing to share what they knew.
Fortunately, the people I got to know were not snobs. I met wine collectors when I lived in Florida who were excited about the dazzling stuff coming out of California in the 1970s, and held blind tastings to prove it. When I moved to California, I met non-homer types who drank great Bordeaux regularly and were willing to share it with a newbie like me, and who could put what was happening in California into a real perspective.
My 29-year-old daughter tells me that what many of her wine-drinking friends like about me and my colleagues, both online and in the magazine, is that we're open to new wines, new producers, new regions. That's something a lot of folks in my generation can learn from the next one. Too many of my friends look blank when I talk about wines from Australia, Chile, South Africa and, yes, Washington. My daughter's friends don't care where the wine comes from, whether it has a cork or a screwcap, a traditional label or a weird one. They just determine if they like it, and go from there.
Sounds about right to me.
Bill Robinson — Calgary — April 16, 2008 5:41pm ET
Jason Zeledon — Berkeley, CA — April 16, 2008 6:34pm ET
Harvey Steiman — San Francisco, CA — April 16, 2008 8:19pm ET
Domaine Drouhin Oregon — Dayton, OR — April 17, 2008 9:01am ET
Larry Schaffer — Central Coast — April 21, 2008 12:34pm ET
Richard Scholtz — Austin, TX — April 24, 2008 9:38am ET
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