Happy New Year, everyone! 2014 has been a busy year for me, and even busier here in the home stretch. I'll be posting some long lists of abbreviated tasting notes soon, but I wanted to take a moment to look back at some of the highlights from the past year, and thank everyone who made it happen: the publicists and wine companies that I worked with, the winemakers I got to know, and of course, the readers who are the reason why I keep cranking out this blog year after year.
I'd never given much thought to synthetic wine enclosures until my visit to the the Nomacorc factory in North Carolina. A few months later I was working as a freelance writer for their new blog. The trip ended up being a lot of fun despite the massive snowstorm. Perhaps it was even better because of the snowstorm--we all got an extra day to spend together eating and drinking and talking about oxygen transfer rates and lean manufacturing. I was able to take a lot from what I saw back to the day job and moved ahead in that career because of it.
It was also a great opportunity to work with a group of wine writers (some international) that I'd never met before. The networking benefits of such meetings are important, but I value more the additional friendships I've made in this crazy field of wine writing.
Nomacorc Posts, My pieces on their website
2014 was the year I fell in love with Lodi during my late April visit. This was a reunion of sorts for my group of wine writers I met in NYC for Snooth PVA in 2013. It was great to see these folks again and we got even closer while spending nearly a week in beautiful Lodi wine country. On top of that, I made great connections with the Lodi Winegrape Commission and many of the winemakers and winegrowers out there. I can't wait to go back some day, and this time I'll remember to bring my sunscreen.
As noted, the Lodi trip wouldn't have happened without the folks at Snooth. In addition to the trip I started writing some small articles for them as a freelancer. They're kind of light and fun and explore the world of curious wine and food pairings. Also like the Nomacorc trip, I'm forever grateful to them for dragging me out of Memphis and introducing me to some of the best friends I have in the wine writing world. I can't wait until we all get together again, wherever and whenever that might be.
My pieces for Snooth.com
You reach a point at which you still enjoy and appreciate wine but are rarely surprised. My life list of grapes is hovering at 194, 30 countries, and 17 of these United States. It is in these times that I appreciate the opportunity to study some of the classics, along with great pairings.
After so many years of obscure grapes and adventures in the wines of Eastern Europe, it was nice this summer to sit down with a wonderful lunch of vintage Champagne and oysters. The 1999 Artéis & Co. Champagne Brut was a real joy and I appreciated it now so much more than I would have ten years ago when I started this blog.
After nearly a year of living with no dogs and no The Roommate, circumstances opened up for me to sort of foster Bella for a while. As of December she's still here and is being spoiled. In September I did a taste test on some locally made dog biscuits given to me by my mother. This and a few other dog biscuit reviews (more popular on Twitter and Facebook) resulted in Bella receiving dog treat samples from one of my media contacts with a wide portfolio of clients. She has become something of a superstar and threatens to take attention away from my rambling wine rants. But I've got to say, it's been nice having the little mutt around.
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All in all, a pretty great year on the wine writing front. In a couple of weeks I'll be celebrating the tenth anniversary of Benito's Wine Reviews with a look back at some of the highlights of the past decade as well as a few other bits and bobs rattling around in my head. I hope all of you are entering the new year with joy, energy, and enthusiasm. Cheers!