Free Your Palate
Free your palate…
I love the Vigneron Indépendant logo. It makes me smile, calls to mind all the reasons beyond a paycheck that I’m in this business, makes me think of France and all the cool people we work with from over there, and ultimately—makes me thirsty. When it comes to the wine-y things that matter most, it says it all: vigneron—the idea of vine-grower versus winemaker; hard work and, most of all, independence.
Independence. It’s a big idea, requiring more time and effort to wrap one’s brain around than most of us generally allocate it. The idea (and its mmmmm) infuses just about everything we buy, eat, drink, do or think here in the land of the free. It’s everywhere, and in everything --but like all of the truly good things in this life-cycle, you have to think about it and choose to exercise it, or effectively abdicate it.
So, ahem, here you go. Riffing on my contention that wine is a metaphor for everything, voilà my little wine-themed attempt at making like Thomas Paine on Independence Day.
Big, corporate “wineries” are no different than religious sects, political parties or Wal-mart. Choosing brand x over to wine a, or Big Box over friendly neighborhood guy, is just that – matter of choice. Those who have something thing to sell, (and in particular a lot of it), generally need a little help to move all that product. Think hearts and minds. Big marketing budgets and sheer ubiquity are the most potent means of peddling the corporate kool-aid, playing off our innate tendency to equate sheer might (in all its various forms) with right. Not to mention the promise of whiter whites, a greener lawn, shinier car and the envy of the ever-present Joneses. Buyer beware. Freedom ain’t free --but, fortunately, mental exertion is its most basic currency. When it comes to wine, it's liberating to think before you drink.
To paraphrase Terry Theise, you should drink wines from independent producers if you’d rather buy REAL wine from a person, a family or a farmer than product from a factory. You should drink wines from independents if you’d rather support someone who thinks you’re a human, rather than a “consumer.” You should drink such wines if you want to drink wine that’s expressive of where it grew and who grew it. Most of all, you should drink it if you want to fill your glass with a vital, expressive, character-driven wine that’s good for your soul.
Finally, the law of the land may say that money is speech and corporations are people – but that doesn’t mean that you, as a free, thinking person, need to fuel that speech or personhood with the fruits of your toil – much less for soulless product.
Life is short. Make every glass count.
…and [everything else] will follow. Vive les indépendants!