What Does it Mean to be Local

This is my second entry into the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge. The MWWC was created by the Drunken Cyclist to encourage creativity within the wine writing community. It is open to anyone with a blog and encourage youMWWC to participate. Last month’s winner, Armchair Sommelier, was bestowed the honor of selecting the theme for this month’s challenge. The theme she has selected is “local.” Initially I pondered this theme with a bit of confusion; after a week or so I forgot about it…until yesterday when I read the first submission for the topic. However, now that it is back in my consciousness I am still confused. What is local? The Google definition is such: an adjective “belonging or relating to a particular area or neighborhood, typically exclusively so.” Furthermore, Google offers synonyms such as community, district, neighborhood, city, town or municipal. And this is where my confusion of this topic comes in….

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I live in Dallas, actually a suburb of Dallas. The 2010 census ranked the population of the town I live in at 296,776, and that is not even Dallas, whose population in 2013 is close to 4 million people. Not only do I reside in a huge state with great diversity, I live in a large metropolitan area and in a large suburban town that bleeds into the surrounding large suburban towns.  I hope you can begin to see where the theme “local” is a bit of a foreign concept to me. Dallas is a restaurant city. There are amazing restaurants here, more per capita than NY City. One can dine in a French restaurant serving French food & wine, or an Italian restaurant serving Italian food & wine, or a Turkish restaurant serving Turkish food & wine….get the picture. But to dine in a local restaurant serving local food, well based on the definition of local being neighborhood or community it is not likely to be found. One can certainly find local restaurants serving Texas food, but again Texas is a large state so is that local? Add the difficulty of finding local food paired with local wine and you can forget about it.

There are a handful of wineries in Dallas, but they are only tasting rooms, the vineyards are either in the Texas Hill Country (many hours away) or the Texas High Plains (many hours away in a different direction) so are those local? Dallas has every grocery store a foodie could desire. We have every piece of fresh produce your heart could imagine year round, sometimes I am not even sure what it “in season” because I can buy whatever I want when I want it. We have farmers markets in my town and in Dallas offering fresh, in season and local but I am honestly not sure where they actually grow the food, it may not be in Dallas proper. The local Whole Foods in my neighborhood places signs throughout the store on “local” products. Here are two examples:

Whole Foods Local Signs

As you can see these foods are local to Texas, but not to my neighborhood or community.

So I am 500 words into this submission and I still stumped on “local.” I have had great meals that were local, farm to table. One of my favorites was at Bottega in Napa Valley. Of course I had great local meals during my week in Valpolicella. One of my favorites was a “barn yard” ragu on fresh Bigoli pasta, made from poultry, duck and kiddish foul. Followed by dessert; you guess it, Gelato! Creamy gelato topped with local cherries drunk in Amarone! It was AMAZING! And it was served with local Valpolicella wines from the wineries we visited. I would say that was definitely local!

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Additionally, Valpolicella was my last experience of local wines. Walking the vineyard with the winemakers, hearing their passion in their craft; listening to winemakers talk about their wine is like listening to a proud parent talk about their child. If you have been following my Valpolicella articles you are familiar with the wineries we visited and the delicious wines we tasted. That trip was for me “local.” And by the time it was over the great hospitality of the Italian people made me feel like I was local as well. Please let me share with you some of the pictures I have of these great winemakers with their wines:

Valentina Cubi, owner and winemaker at Valentina Cubi

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Stefano Cottni, family owner and winemaker at Scriani

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Federico and Chiara Leone, owners and winemakers at Terre di Leone

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Luciano Begnoni, winemaker and owner of Santa Sofia Winery

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Marco Speri, owner and winemaker at Secondo Marco

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Though I would love to find local where I live, I am content to experience local in great places like Napa Valley and Valpolicella, Italy. When I am touching and tasting Corvina grapes in the vineyard that surround the winery then taste the Amarone right out of the barrel, that is as local as it can get. Therefore, I suppose when I am in Valpolicella enjoying the people, food, wine and scenery I am, for that moment, local.

My Song Selection: The song I have chosen to pair with this reflection on local represents the one truly local thing you will find in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex: great local music! There are so many great local bands it is hard to select just one, but since many of Dallas’ local band do not have YouTube videos I can embed into this post that helps narrow the field. Therefore, my song pairing is Safe on the Outside by Telegraph Canyon. Unfortunately  their current music videos are only moderately produced live recordings but I believe it won’t be too much longer till they reach national recognition.  The local music scene in Dallas/Ft Worth is vibrant and diverse. I encourage you to check out more of our great local bands!

Let me know what you think about my “local” musings and what song says local to you. Cheers!

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