I'm getting deja vu and feel like I've started off a couple emails from the past few months with "boy, Devenish has been really busy", but, well, we still are. All of us have been working grueling hours trying to get in front of restaurant and wine shop managers to show off all the fantastic new hand made wines we have. I've gotten so into this that it's starting to feel like we're on a wine crusade. A crusade for hand made, personal wines that have something to say; also a crusade to say "Hey, you don't eat Kraft cheese singles, you eat organic food, Spam isn't your favorite meat; then why do you drink the wine equivalent of Spam? The $3 and $4 wines with names that sound like generic sub-divisions are Spam in wine form. It's juice from anywhere that's selling for cheap, all processed, artificially flavored, and then spit out of a huge industrial refinery.
A lot of the other distributors right now are locked into a fight over who can find the cheapest artificially chocolate flavored wine. Choco-Divine, Chocovine, Sweet sunset, all kinds of chemically created crap. In total contrast Devenish is staking out opposite end of the market. We want to have the most exciting, unique, naturally made wines out there. We want have the wines that you pick up as you walk through a store and think "Oh, wow. I don't recognize that; it looks really interesting." To that end we've been stepping up our game over these past months.
Devenish Wines always been focused on wines that taste like where they come from, wines that have passion in them, generally from smaller producers. In the past few months we've become even more focused on the context of wine; the idea that it's not just the taste of the wine that matters. I believe that the person making the wine, why this person is there making wine, who presents the wine to you, where you experience the wine; all this matters. Context. You don't go to fancy restaurants and take the food out back into an alley to enjoy it with out the distractions of fine service, linen table cloths, and candle light; why would you ignore all the details about a wine, such as the climate of the vineyard, how long the winemaker's family has been there, their culture and relationship with their land; when all these things have a big impact on the wine and your experience of it?
To me wine can and should be art. Wine is a medium that can express the winemaker's philosophy, relationship to their land, history, the environment......on and on. Plus the perception of wine is extremely personal because it's influenced by all your past experiences and tastes, much like fine art or theater. They're forms of communication that we can all consume, yet we will all perceive the same wine or painting differently. I love this, it keeps wine fresh and exciting for me and over comes all the petty politics that can sometimes enter the wine industry because it's so personality driven. I want my wine to speak to me, wine that has spirit to it, wine that someone has poured passion into. The mass produced industrial wines with flashy labels are made to not have any uniqueness or character; they're completely impersonal.
I feel a big responsibility both to the people buying my wines and the people who make them. On the one hand I want to find cool, unique wines people can afford to enjoy; on the other I need to promote the wines of these small family producers. The knowledge that some of my producers families have been on the land working it for longer than anyone knows, investing themselves and spending their lives there, makes me feel a heavy responsibility to represent them well and make a case for them. That's what really motivates me to work 12-14 hour days doing this; the idea that I'm not just selling a fun luxury, I'm representing hand crafted pieces of art.