The Key To Good Wine Writing Is Grapeskin-Blackened Hands

“Buckets! Secateurs! Allons-y!” It was 8:10am and there was a strong chill in the air, although the sun was beginning to glow behind a layer of fog that hung above  us, indicating that we’d be shedding layers even before lunch. At this familiar call-to-arms from Agnès, the matriarch of the family employing us in their vineyards, we diligently grabbed plastic buckets and garden shears, and with few words found ourselves in pairs, approaching a row of vines with one person on each side.

As I crouched in the dirt, the pain in my lower back pronounced itself, effectively asking: “Another day, really?” And as I’d been doing, every day for the last week, I shifted my weight to my knees, which creaked and groaned, but at least didn’t feel like a knife was being driven into them as I reached for a grape cluster.

Grape picking is incredibly hard work, the kind of physical labor that people supposedly go to college to avoid doing. But there is also so much romance in the vines, as I discovered during a two-week stage at Domaine Mosse, in the Anjou regoin of the Loire Valley. Living with the family, amongst the vines, and going out each day with the workers to collect grapes, or spending time in the cellar, was an immersion experience that every wine writer, I believe, should go through. By the end, my hands were blackened from grape skins and dirt; my body was exhausted and sore; but my soul was alight with the feeling of working in nature, and experiencing each vineyard’s uniqueness from within, through its fruits. Read more

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Immigrants Make American Wine Great

Screen Shot 2017-04-07 at 9.14.46 PMThere was a moment after Trump’s election when food and drink writers stopped working for a few weeks, frozen–does our work even matter? Aren’t these topics so petty that we should now cease to scribble our hard-researched sentences on so-and-so chef, or this ancient grape, and just crawl under a rock and let the political writers do their work? Someone tweeted: “We are all covering politics now, no matter what your beat.” I haven’t forgotten that statement.

For Vice MUNCHIES, I reported on recent raids on immigrant communities across the Northwest, through the lens of wine. The lens also could have been agriculture more broadly, but of course, wine is my strongest beat. I’m glad I was able to shed some light on the injustices happening in our country right now through a subject I’m knowledgable about. It’s atrocious that (at least) three Dreamers–people whose status was protected under Obama in a program known as DACA, established in 2012. Read my article on MUNCHIES here. If any of you reading this live in the Northwest, I would strongly suggest calling your local elected officials who may have some sway in those individuals’ fates.