From Snowy Paris, Visions of Terre 2 And New Writing On Phylloxera

Greetings from freezing cold Paris! It has dumped snow here, which is very pretty, but I am chilled to the bone after a week of tasting in damp cellars in the Jura and the Auvergne, making my way toward La Dive and the other vin nature salons in the Loire. Expect an update from me soon on the highlights from those events!

Tasting with François Saint-Lo at Les Anonymes in Angers

Meantime, I’m starting to edit Terre Issue 2, which will come out in May. It’s going to be really, really good; we’re building on our global support and bringing in new writers, artists, and photographers. Tomorrow, I head to Copenhagen to report on one of the world’s most exciting and experimental distilleries, for Issue 2. Announcements are coming soon about pre-ordering the issue and subscribing for the year, and don’t miss out, because we sold out last time and surely will again, even though we plan to double our production. (You can sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know about all this.)

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How to prevent the spreading of phylloxera

I also want to share a story I’ve really enjoyed working on, an updated explainer about the phylloxera pest, with recent reporting from Australia and elsewhere. Everyone who loves wine should understand the history of phylloxera, because it’s affected grapevines and wine production everywhere, and it’s also a really fascinating story of plant genetics that continues to impact winegrowing today. Link is here

Lastly: I’ve done something pretty unusual, and created a sort of “tip jar,” a link on Paypal where, at any point, you’re welcome to send me a bit of cash. When I left New York and started working on Terre, I had a tentative book deal and potential gig writing a magazine column. They both fell through, and then Terre became so time-consuming, that before I knew it I was living on credit cards and sleeping on friends’ couches to save money. Writing about wine isn’t lucrative but I do it because I love meeting growers and understanding the political-cultural histories of wine regions. I was inspired by this excellent piece on the New Worlder site to be more vocal and honest about how unglamorous this job can be. Here is the link to my “tip jar.” Even a five-dollar donation means a lot to me. Thank you!

Off to jump on a call with my Terre colleagues, to discuss artwork for the issue and launch events in May. Thanks for being with us on this journey!


Support Raisin, The World’s Only Natural Wine App

Raisin is an app that supports the natural wine community by alerting wine lovers to places they can find organic, biodynamic, low-sulfite wines made on a small scale, all around the world. It’s a simple concept, meant to help make natural wine more transparent and approachable for everyday people who might be new to the idea of such wine. Essentially, the app helps you find a retailer or restaurant that features natural wines on at least 30 percent of their menu. And for anyone who loves natural wine and has had the experience of wandering around a foreign city, trying in vain to find a glass of something acceptable to drink, Raisin is going to come in handy.

Although Raisin launched last year, it’s now seeking crowdfunding in order to deliver an android version with some more sophisticated features. I urge you to support this project if you can. I have met one of the founders and I’ve seen the beautiful Raisin posters proudly on display in winemakers’ offices all around Europe. It’s a project that could be a great bolster to the natural wine community in a general sense.

Find out more about Raisin and support their campaign, here. As of now, 35 days are left to fund, but if you like the project it’s better to put your money down now, rather than later–it will encourage future donations. And if you’re new to my blog, and want to know more about natural wine, see my primer for Esquire magazine, here

And let’s all raise a glass to the great majority of France rejecting racism and anti-cosmopolitanism. That’s really something to celebrate.

Article + Photos From The Big Glou

I’m just back from two weeks in France, jet-lagged and writing at 5am. It turns out that an impassioned blog post I wrote in my hotel room, in Peripgnan (the Roussillon), was not actually published. Probably a good thing?

While I was away, my article about The Big Glou finally came out in Brooklyn Magazine (it also touches upon Vivent les Vins Libres, although not as much). It’s a look at who natural winemakers are, and why they are in a movement that cannot be defined. Read it here.

And here are some of my photos from that fantastic weekend event,

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at the end of February.

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Treat Yourself To Fancy Wines All Year Long!

IMG_7690Happy holidays! This Christmas gave me all the feels and also perhaps gout, because I’ve eaten so many ridiculous meals and had tons of amazing wine. Hopefully you’e done the same! To that end, I wrote about three kinds of splurgey, special-occasion wines for Vine Pair (read here). Now that Christmas has passed, perhaps you’ll find other ways to incorporate delicious bottles like these into your rotation. I hate to be all “life is short” because that’s maybe an overused saying but, put differently: why would you not enjoy special wine and food as much as possible?

And The Millennials Said, “Let There Be Wine Delivery . . .”

IMG_6880If you’ve ever posted on Facebook something about wine (maybe “dying for a glass of wine RN,” for example), then you’ve probably seen an ad pop up, for one of the many new wine delivery services vying for a slice of the market.

Wine delivery isn’t exactly new; for a long time wineries, especially smaller-production ones, have relied on customers subscribing to regular shipments of whatever they are sending out. These wine clubs have typically not been very cheap; they were more oriented toward connoisseurs than everyday drinkers. But in recent years, we’ve seen start-ups forming more updated, Millennial-focused versions of these wine clubs, offering consumers a confluence of good value, good wine, and something to satisfy everyone’s palate. These new delivery services exist on the basis of two important facts: one, that Millennials all over the country have an insatiable thirst for wine, and two, that those same Gen-Yers also love buying stuff online and having it show up in the mail, and have become accustomed to this lifestyle ever since the rise of Amazon and similar businesses.

Read the rest of my article on wine delivery subscriptions, on Vine Pair.

What To Do When You’re Given A Massive Wine List?

IMG_4300One of my main goals as a writer is to help people enjoy wine more. And you can’t do that so easily if you’re thrown into a state of confusion by the massive wine list — wine book, even — at some of today’s restaurants. A lot of people are intimidated by enlisting the sommelier’s help, and they also feel fatigued at the thought of navigating a list. So, I wrote for Vine Pair about how to tackle any list, with or without a somm by your side, with some tips from experts around the country. Read here!



“What Happens If You Take Good Wine, And Force Carbonate It?” #winestudy

Alex Pitts and Abe Schoener at the "Essex St Alumni Association" loft where Schoener holds tastings, photo by author
Alex Pitts and Abe Schoener at the “Essex St Alumni Association” loft where Schoener holds tastings, photo by author

I profiled the philosopher-turned-winemaker Abe Schoener for Food Republic; it’s a long article that was researched over the course of three separate visits (and tastings) with him and others in his circle. It all started with the question above; I confused his “Blowout” for a naturally sparkling wine when I was researching an article about pét-nats, and then I was just so intrigued that I had to learn more. Turns out, I am one of many who finds Schoener, and his approach to wine, fascinating and engaging. Read the profile here