Dirt vs. Varietal

In the US, people choose their wine first by the varietal (grape), then the winemaker, then the region where the grapes were grown. In France, the region is most important. The winemaker is important too. Looking at the varietal at all (as a consumer) is a relatively recent development.

I lived in Sonoma County (one of California’s prime wine-growing regions) for 9 years, and discovered wine there. My company is named for my favorite varietal. I’m a varietal-first drinker. The French way feels less likely to consistently result in a wine I’ll enjoy.

An interesting parallel (in honor of my birthday tomorrow) is the personal information that is most important. To open a bank account or create a corporation or file your taxes, you have to document your full name and where you live now. In France, the first two things you’ll be asked for are your family name and your birthplace. The winemaker and the region, right? In the US, your current address can be an indicator of how well you’ve done for yourself. “Oh you live THERE?” By contrast, the French view seems to be that your personal accomplishments are less important than the family you come from and their contributions to your home town.

Each view has value in its context. I grew up with individual achievement held up as an important yardstick. Maybe as the important yardstick. My working life might cover 60 years, but what if my focus was on my family legacy? Then we’d have many people working for countless generations. Maybe we could achieve more together. Maybe.