Field Notes from a Wine Life – Inexplicable Edition

Odds and ends from a life lived through the prism of the wine glass…

The Green Card Cometh

I would be remiss if I didn’t offer a public congratulation to Johannes Reinhardt, winemaker at Anthony Road Wine Company in Penn Yan, New York in the Finger Lakes (FLX) wine region for earning his green card.  Not that he’s waiting for my congratulations, by the way.

However, I do think it’s important to honor professional excellence, integrity and the pursuit of the American dream in a period of time when our national mood is drenched with political acrimony and institutional cynicism.

Sometimes things work out the way they should…

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First reported by Evan Dawson at the New York Cork Report in the first week of September, Reinhardt has earned his permanent worker status, a way station on the way to a permanent green card.

Reinhardt’s back-story is well chronicled in some circles (here and here) and his story is a notable chapter in Dawson’s recent book, Summer in a Glass, but it’s also the kind of workaday footnote that barely blips on the radar of the larger wine consciousness, even if it should.

The summary of a longer narrative is Reinhardt initially came to the U.S. from Germany over a decade ago, leaving his family winemaking legacy behind, to do the same on U.S. soil.  Working on a string of visas while seeking a permanent green card (a green card that has proven difficult to obtain as he faced rejection after inexplicable rejection), Reinhardt carved out an enviable leadership position in the collegial Finger Lakes winemaking community helping to elevate it to the world-class status it now enjoys for its Rieslings, while also doing the same for his employer, the aforementioned Anthony Road winery.

For those that don’t follow immigration law, which is most of us, the difference between a visa and a green card is most akin to the labor differences in between the NFL and the NBA.  In the NFL, you can get cut and lose your job at any time.  In the NBA, you have a guaranteed contract.  A green card acts as something of a guaranteed contract in the U.S. in that you’re not at-risk to have your ability to be in our country yanked or not renewed (deported). 

With permanent worker status and a green card in his future, Reinhardt can now seek citizenship should he choose to do so, or, at the least, get on with building a life in the U.S.

I sat adjacent to Johannes and next to his wife Imelda at a wine dinner in the spring of 2010 while his wines were being poured.  With just brief interaction, his meticulous work effort, charisma, collaborative spirit and genuine desire to achieve excellence as a winemaker in the Finger Lakes shone through.  I’m happy for him, his wife, and most importantly, I’m happy for wine enthusiasts who will continue to enjoy access to his fantastic wines. 

You can toast Reinhardt by buying some Anthony Road wine at the winery web site or at a New York-based online retailer (I use Marketview).

Just in time for Harvest

“It takes a lot of beer to make good wine,” as the saying goes.  Joining the Winepod, a high-end home winemaking system that was launched a few years ago, comes the WilliamsWarn Personal Brewery launched by a couple of Kiwi’s in New Zealand.  Promising craft brewery beer quality at home and priced at around US $5000, the WilliamsWarn, which includes an all-in-one tap for dispensing your brew, looks like the perfect accompaniment to the Winepod and one of the commercial grade espresso machines that are available.

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Now all I have to do is figure out how to scrape together $14,000 of disposable income to buy all three…

More information here (initiates a download of the WilliamsWarn product details sheet).

As Seen in Sommelier Journal

The July issue of the Sommelier Journal (you are a subscriber, right?  You should be…) features a blurb about a new service that allows Sommeliers to create wine clubs for their guests and consumers interested in their wine finds. 

Powered by the unimaginatively named company “Wine Club Shipment,” the firm handles all web site development, shipping and logistics and the Sommelier does what they do best – find unique and interesting wines.

Sign me up.  For two reasons, this is a fantastic service:

1)  With all of the mojo that the craft brew scene and mixologists are earning, I’m very ready for the wine world’s bright young Sommeliers to take a step forward into the limelight by curating selections.

2)  Wine clubs, in general, get a justifiably valid bad name for unloading plonk on unwitting consumers.  Anything that can stem that tide with a quality orientation is a good thing

The company web site is scant on detail, but you can get a sense for the service at the A16 wine club site.

Even a Blind Squirrel…

On the heels of my recent post called, “Palate Tuning and the Permanent Record” in which I discussed disparities in critical wine scores and the hypothetical development of a meta-database that weighs variables in critics palates to create a sort-of super wine score, comes, well, you guessed it – something pretty darn close to that.

I published my post on the 15th and then, via Lewis Perdue’s Wine Industry Insight wine news round-up on the 16th, I saw an article published on the web site Inside Toronto that details a company, WineAlign, in Ontario that has a similar concept with the twist of taking major critical reviews and overlaying that on Liquor Control Board Ontario (LCBO) wine availability in Ontario, Canada. 

It can be done in the states, but the magic is in hardcore number crunching and weighting critical palate preferences to create a meta-score that can map to an individual consumer preference reliably.

Johannes Reinhardt Photo Credit:  Morgan Dawson Photography