Monday, June 22, 2009

break it down

Working in the wine industry obviously has its perks; great dinners, visiting vineyards in California, meeting collectors and enthusiasts, and occasionally popping some special corks with friends. The truly special moments are when friends discuss what is happening with the industry; both in and behind the glass. Lectures on terroir and winemakers, brewmasters and regional specialties, roasters and seasonality... it can get heated, it can get funny, it can get serious, or it can be opinionated blowhards running their mouths.

I have been in the "professional beverage industry" for eighteen years, starting with my first position as a barista at the tender age of fifteen. I took up with serving wine and beer along with my coffee duties at nineteen, and was lucky enough to spend these formative years in the Pacific Northwest where the artisans behind the craft still made themselves available. Talking and learning with producers from this area solidified my decision to stay attached to the industry when I moved east with my wife to Chicago. Here, I have taken that love of all things beverage and developed wonderful relationships on the other side of the fence; distributors, restaurateurs and retailers. All this and also some fantastic friends who consider themselves nothing more than lucky consumers. They can have any opinion they want, not swayed by any professional allegiance, and I find a lot of truth within their comments.

As important as it is try and convey the most accurate information I can, I also need to stress that all of the stress, ego, and BS that can go along with these sort of discussions will need to be checked at the door. I love what I do, but as we all know, it's all just a drink you are going to be passing along to the sewer within a couple of hours. I will do my best to treat these discussions with all seriousness, but with a lighthearted touch to it. After all, with the constant evolution within the beverage industry if you think you know it all, you're wrong. That is why there is so much discussion, and why it is so much fun. When I say something incorrect, I certainly hope there will be someone there to correct me. Please do.

In the meantime, please get a cup of tea, or crack a beer that you've been holding onto for a while. I look forward to writing and sharing what comes around. All best.