Great article, Tom. Let me point out that wine writers in general are reluctant to tell the story of the 99% of wineries that don't participate in the three-tier system. I refer to the 12,000 wineries averaging 2,000 cases that are making the most interesting wines in the world, primarily from varieties and regions that didn't exist forty years ago.

It baffles me that top wine writers but rarely discuss the best Iowa La Crescent, Missouri Norton and Vignoles, Minnesota St. Pepin, New York Aromella, Pennsylvania Vidal Blanc, Wisconsin Seyval Blanc, Illinois Cabernet Dore, Kentucky Crimson Cabernet, Indiana Traminette...I could easily list 40 well-established varieties. And then there are the newbieslike Ikalto, Nokomis, Zinthiana, Arondell, Petite Pearl, and more each year.

I believe the invisibility of this ongoing and rapidly growing sector right under our noses can only be attributed to cowardice and a touch of vinifera racism. Writers are either afraid to stick their necks out in fear of blowback from their readers or they have failed to do their investigative homework and are utterly unaware of what goes on outside the three-tier system's megaboutiques, the majority of which are supplied by a mere 65 American wineries over 500,000 cases.

While these giant wineries are losing share since they provide nothing more than a pleasant buzz, the small guys are growing leaps and bounds because they are the real deal, as you have described.

Wine is much more interesting -- simply tastes so much better -- when you know the people who made it and have heard their philosophy and motivation for making their wines the way they do. The best part about these small wineries is that you can make a personal connection with Mom and Pop and their dog by visiting a winery near where you live. Try that with Robert Mondavi or Jess Jackson, even when they were alive. As an entree to this world, I strongly recommend the movie Wine Diamonds, which tells the story of five midwestern family wineries.

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Clark, your perspective is appreciated and rarely wrong. A really important thing that DTC shipping has address is the perceived need for publications to know that wines are available locally or widely available before they will commit to writing about them. With DTC, everything is (or theoretically should be) available. So, there is no reason to stick with the big brands when writing.

But my article is addressing the approach to writing as much as it is addressing what is written about. What is the experience of dragging your kids into a vineyard on a vacation that is supposed to be about an amusement park? How do the politics of wine dovetail with the the newly vocal politics seen at school board meetings? How do Natural Wine advocates advance an anti-globalist agenda? Why hasn't the explosion of artisan cheeses in the U.S. led to a culture of cheese the same way their is a culture of wine? I think more write that places wine in a larger and broader context will expose how wine is a compelling subject matter and worth of more exploration through imbibing.

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