Last week one of my talks at the Ballymaloe Lit Fest was about natural wines changing lives. When I came up with the topic, I had some fantasy of getting work as a motivational speaker and sparking new energy in old lives. In fact, I started to feel all comic and hyperbolic about the topic. But then I thought, it has changed the path of my life.
There is just something about drinking a wine that starts with the soil. Then the journey takes you through the vintage. The sips end up embracing us in its life and transition and imprints us.
I asked readers of The Feiring Line, if and how natural wines had changed their lives, would they write be a few lines to tell me if and how?
The notes were heartfelt. They came from all ages and ranged from wine pro to enthusiast. I bet every one of my subscribers had a story to tell too. Some have been shortened, but no words have been changed. Here’s a little snapshot.
If you have your own story, please, take a moment. Share it. Would love to hear it.
It would be fair to say that natural wine has changed my life completely in the last year.
I was a senior teacher six years ago in the North East of England when I visited Mas Coutelou in the Languedoc during my summer holidays. I had been drinking wine for 30 years, indeed it was on a teaching visit to Germany that I first realized the beauty of wine. However, Jeff's wines were unlike anything I'd ever tasted, brimming with elegance, freshness and vitality. A visit around his vineyards revealed a completely different approach to the environment and viticulture. The life flowing out of the glass was a clear reflection of the health of the soil and the vines.
A friendship grew and when I retired last July my wife and I had little difficulty in choosing to live in Languedoc. Jeff invited me to spend time with him on the domaine and to write about the experience. My blog, now occupies my time along with vineyard and cellar work and wine tasting. The natural wine community have become friends, their bottles enrapture me. My palate has changed, I avoid heavy, unbalanced wines and their sulphur.
So, my life is completely altered, for the better. I am happy, learning and living a dream. Thanks in large part to natural wine.
Retired Park Ranger. Current wine merchant
My natural wine journey began one Friday evening in late July 2011 in a used bookstore in Bowling Green, Kentucky, while two friends and I were waiting on our dinner reservation at a local sushi restaurant. I had retired from the US National Park Service’s science program the previous year and had not found a “retirement years passion” until I discovered The Battle For Wine and Love Or How I Saved The World From Parkerization at the used bookstore. I couldn’t put the book down and the next day I decided to look Alice up on the web and found a contact address listed on her blog: “The Feiring Line.” I sent her an email figuring I would never hear back anything, but maybe she would at least see my email and at least know she had a new fan in Kentucky. I did hear back from her in a nicely written email response in which she remarked that “wine was a journey.” Indeed it is and that used book, and Alice, gave me my retirement passion of pursuing and understanding natural wine. I had previously thought all wine was natural, not realizing there is a whole world and history of wine and wine making that was and still is being trounced into the dust of the past by among other things, nonsensical and irrelevant numeric rating systems. I now work in a wine department in a large liquor store in our area. I and at least one other sales person try to nudge the local market and our customers toward taking the journey that I feel has so benefitted, not just my wine choices, but my life choices as well.
I decided to do my own company which is trying to bring in wines made with conscience and that I am not ashamed of with some wines that I truly love to drink… eventually would love to get all I love… but then love is relative… you can have a wine you love but love shrink and fades when you discover after several years that the winemaker is not just the exactly on the same page on human values, that’s another topic though, but still hits you hard … like… a maverick?
Natural wine making has changed everything. It's as if we've fallen down the rabbit hole. In this Wonderland we have found many new kinds of madness, but more importantly we found Alice.
Wine Merchant (mainandloire.com)
Long story short, my fondness (zeal) for natural wine led to meeting my wife and for us deciding to open our own shop to sell the stuff.
It's certainly a more delicate and complex story than this tag line, but it is absolutely true that I wouldn't be where I am today -- a happily married father and wine merchant -- if I hadn't been enchanted, stunned even, by a bottle of Olivier Cousin Grolleau in 2002.
Wine maker in Franken, Germany
I grew up in a small conventional winery. I never saw any ideas, tastes, wines attracting me so I learned something else (I studied philosophy and then worked in media). The first bottle of Simonutti’s Boire Tue changed everything. After a couple of months, “non-natural“ wines started tasting more and more boring while at the same time the whole natural winemaking philosophy started making more and more sense (I could write for hours about the philosophical bit ... Alfred North Whitehead’s ideas about truth and beauty are e.g. a wonderful connection).
And so the idea arose to take over may parent’s winery and turn it upside down. We quit our job, moved back to the small town I grew up at and here we are now working on vintage #3.
New York Lawyer
Natural wine has changed my life in some important ways. First, drinking natural wine aligns my views about food with the wines that pair with it. I would never eat processed food nor would I choose what appears to be a natural food in which the label lists a ton of other ingredients and preservatives. I want that in my wine as well.
They have also changed my life in that it is almost impossible to discuss wine with extended family members and coworkers. No one understands what I am talking about. They think I am a wine snob,
Euopean Wine Importer
It helped me make direct connections between nature and the quality of human life.
It helped me adapt my eating habits (going more pure, more eco), altering my body and mind.
It made me more sensitive in supporting the work of the "little man" vs a corporation. It provided a platform to develop a "business" i fully believe in, more than in any that i've done so far. Actually this business is not a business at all...it's a way of life. Quite an achievement, I think.
It has been the cause of a rebirth for me, and a (partly) successful way to deal with a mid-life crisis I did not know I was experiencing,