New Year’s Eve – the time to look back over the previous year and look ahead to the coming year.
2009 was a great year for us at Vino Verve: Gretchen became an officer of the Illinois Wine Consumer Coalition and was invited to participate on a panel discussion with Bill Daley, wine critic for the Chicago Tribune, and Anthony Terlato, President of the Terlato Wine Group. I began branching out beyond Connecticut, exploring wineries in nearby New Jersey and Rhode Island, and along the way picking up new wine-trail-buddies, Christy Sherard and Maree Prendergast. Kevin took advantage of his frequent business travel to discover wine venues in unexpected places, including discovering a new trend of locating upscale wine bars in major airports. And while Rory has been relatively quiet with regards to Vino Verve, he’s been busy behind the scenes attending business school and keeping Kevin and Gretchen well-connected within the Chicago wine scene.
But most important, to my mind, 2009 was the year we truly found our voice. Ever since Gretchen founded Vino Verve almost 3 years ago, there has been a focus on “local” – things we discovered, things we drank, winemakers or sommeliers we met, etc. But as I look back over 2009, I can see a progression as we continued to define and refine exactly what we’re all about here at Vino Verve, a change that’s also reflected in the blog’s redesign, courtesy of Gretchen, our editor, and the creation of the Win(e)ding Roads and Better Know an AVA sections to help us organize our explorations.
I’ve seen a similar progression in myself - what started as an occasional hobby has become a passion, something I look forward to and plan for. In 2009, I visited over 30 wineries and explored almost every nook and cranny of Connecticut along the way. Christy and I visited our first wine expo and participated in a phenomenal seminar, the Frescobaldi Grand Cru. I joined Snooth and became the curator for the Connecticut Group page – although I have been lax and haven’t updated anything recently; need to get back to that. I attended some great Spring and Harvest Festivals at area wineries and met some great people, who now recognize me (and I them) when I stop by the winery. And along the way I’ve learned a lot – I think my posts have improved over the year, and I know my palate has.
So with all that in mind, what’s ahead for 2010?
First and foremost, I’m on track to finish the Connecticut Wine Trail by March – there are just a few wineries left that I have yet to visit, one of which, Taylor Brooke Winery, I’ll be heading out to this afternoon before they close for the season.
Come January 23rd you’ll find me in Boston at the Boston Wine Expo for the Corton Charlemagne and Corton Grancey: The Great Grand Cru’s of Maison Louis Latour and the Alain Junguenet: A Collection of 2007 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Super Cuvées seminars. A locapour focus does not preclude one from taking advantage of opportunities to sample some of the world’s great wines when given the chance. And the following Saturday will find me in southeast Connecticut at the Mohegan Sun Winefest and the Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay: It’s All About Terroir seminar.
By mid-March, once I wrap up Connecticut, it’s on to Rhode Island and then by early Summer, Massachusetts.
Come July is the Wine Blogger’s Convention, which Gretchen will be attending, and I, if I can afford it. If not, then perhaps a long weekend in Philadelphia with day trips to explore southern New Jersey wine country or a trip up to Niagara Falls and a comparison of the Canadian Niagara wine region and the wineries of the US Niagara Escarpment.
And with the turning of the leaves, it’s Harvest Festival time.
Throughout the year I’m looking forward to my newest tradition – monthly wine excursions with some new wine-trail-buddies, a group of friends from work. We call ourselves the “Sisters of The Connecticut Wine Trail” (SOTs for short), and we pick one Saturday or Sunday a month and head out to check out a couple of local wineries. While we’ll spend most of our time in Connecticut, we are planning a long day trip to the North Fork of Long Island at some point – one of my favorite wine regions in the Northeast. If you’re in a Connecticut Winery and there’s a group of women off in a corner having way too much fun – that will be us!
I also want to continue to refine my focus – spending more time getting to know the winemakers and the history behind the wineries. One of the things I’m considering for 2010 is a new series on the winemakers of Connecticut – we’ll see how it shapes up.
So here’s to a great 2010!