October 2012: Letter from the Editor
Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.
—Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon
There are almost as many wonderful quotes about wine as there are wines to drink, so if my Hemingway choice does not please your palate, feel free to mentally insert your own favorite words on wine. It’s important to note, too, that words about wine are not always celebratory. While researching stories for this issue, as well as finding the quote for this page, I found much that was combative and contradictory, as well as positive and optimistic. Wine can be a battle as well as a party. The process of making wine in cold climates like New York State and Southern Ontario is a struggle where winemakers must take advantage of the pluses (weather-tempering lakes, soils enriched by mineral deposits) and survive the minuses (often brutally cold winters, overwhelming competition). It takes passion and determination to rise above the fray as a winemaker, so it’s no surprise that winemakers tend to be a strong-willed, outspoken bunch—which makes them all the more interesting as subjects for articles. As author James Molesworth says in his delightful Summer in a Glass, “There is no pretentiousness in the dirt under a winemaker’s fingers.”
We couldn’t cover all of New York or Ontario for this issue; therefore, we chose those areas where we knew our readers might travel for day or weekend wine touring. There is no question that enjoyment of any wine is heightened by the knowledge that we have visited it where it is made and met the people who make it. Just as we treasure the souvenirs from a once-in-a-lifetime European trip, a moderately-priced bottle of riesling gains interest from the experience of viewing its vineyards and tasting it on sight. It should also be noted that the winemaking regions of New York and Ontario contain some of the most beautiful scenery found anywhere.
While we applaud the fact that wine from nearby regions can be found on wine store shelves and restaurant wine lists throughout Western New York, this letter ends with a charge to Spree readers: if you can, visit one or more area wineries this year. October is a fine month to take a tour along one of the many wine trails within driving distance. And if you go, be sure to tell us about it.