Aged like fine wine

We all know time goes fast from when we’re aware of the calendar on the wall until we’re discussing retirement and beyond.

Who could have guessed this little wine column would enjoy the success it has when it began in October 2007?

From five newspapers, mostly close to home base Crawfordsville, to more than 20 newspapers and websites across the state. At one point, the column’s reach, based on print circulation numbers, reached more than 300,000 Hoosier, Michigan and Illinois homes. I only had one small paper in each of the two neighboring states, but they’re worth including.

Today, the number reached is harder to determine because several newspaper companies run the column as exclusive to their website instead of print. That’s OK because it still expands reach. If I had to figure out the number of homes, I’d safely guess 200,000 to 250,000.

That always was the goal to reach as many people as possible with some wine education. Arguably, the column has done that.

It also has afforded me numerous opportunities to learn more about wine. The most impactful result was several press trips I participated in and reported on here to some of the great wine regions of the world. In 2010, I visited Paso Robles, and it was back to California in January 2011 to Mendocino.

But the big year for me was 2012. I took a press trip to Montpelier, France, in the Languedoc wine region for the world’s biggest organic wine trade show. That summer was another trip to the beautiful city of Bordeaux. In the fall, it was a quick trip to Chablis and its delicious whites in northern-most Burgundy.

I have led a couple of wine tourism trips in that time. The first trip to Oregon, which I’m thinking of repeating in 2018, really had an impact on my guests. I took four couples to Burgundy, France, in 2016 and it was my first, as well. It takes a lot of time to comprehend the complexities of great Burgundy, so I’m sure I’ll be going back.

The important thing about all of those trips is I always tried to take you along here and on my blog.

More important than what Grape Sense has done for the author is what I hope it has done for you. The most consistent message through 231 columns has been to try new things, new grapes and new price points. Visit winemakers and ask lots of questions about what they do. And always remember you learn more about wine in the vineyard than the winery.

For the future, I’m not sure. I still enjoy writing the column and seldom have much trouble with finding topics. Perhaps a bit more focus on food in coming months and a narrower look at some wines and wineries.

Howard W. Hewitt of Crawfordsville writes about wine every other week for more than 20 Indiana newspapers and websites. Reach him at [email protected]