A new wine adventure wants you to discover wines from unknown producers

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“Wine is the opportunity to get our message across to the world. We want young Georgian women to believe in themselves and know that they can do whatever they want and earn their freedom,” says Gvantsa Abuladze, who produces wines with her sister, Baia, in the Imereti region. in Georgia.

“My winery is called Ses’fikile, which means ‘We have arrived’. It testifies to the arrival of women in a space traditionally reserved for men,” explains Nondumiso Pikashe, a winemaker in the Paarl region of South Africa. “And also the arrival of the peoples of Africa. It’s a feeling that we can rewrite history, that we can walk the road less travelled.

One of the oldest grape varieties in the world is about to take off in America

“Wine builds community,” says Tara Gomez, a member of the Santa Ynez Band of the Chumash Indians of Santa Barbara County, recognized by the California legislature as the first Native American winemaker in the Golden State. Gomez and his wife, Mieira Taribó, make wines under their Camins 2 Dreams label and mentor young Black, Indigenous and Colored women exploring careers in wine. “They see people like them making wine, and they feel like anything is possible,” Gomez says.

These are just a few winemakers represented by a visionary new label called Go There Wines, launched in late June by Washington, D.C. restaurateur Rose Previte, her husband, former NPR host David Greene, and their friend, the entrepreneur at social impact Chandler Arnold.

Go There Wines is a online business designed to give a platform and a megaphone to winegrowers who find it difficult to be heard. It is not about wine as fermented grape juice, Château Ceci or Terroir Cela. It’s about history, community and the belief that we can bring the world together through a shared love of wine.

In this way, it is an extension of the Michelin-starred restaurants at Previte, Compass Rose and Maydan, two gastronomic celebrations of the power of food to create community across political and ethnic lines. It’s a perspective Previte gained while traveling across Russia, the Caucasus and the Middle East with Greene when he was the network’s Moscow bureau chief from 2009 to 2012.

Previte came up with the idea for this business during the first few weeks of the covid pandemic, when restaurants were closed and struggled to survive by selling off their wine stocks at heavily discounted prices. Even then, she remained true to her ideal of wine, like food, as an agent of social impact. “We only sold Georgian and Lebanese wines,” she says, “because I always wanted to help those winemakers.”

At the same time, the wine industry was being sacked for its lack of diversity amid the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements. Online wine sales have gone from a trickle to a boomlet as consumers have grown accustomed to buying everything online. Previte saw an opportunity.

“Look at the wine industry, and you’ll see how dominated it is still by Western Europeans and – no offense, Dave – white men,” Previte explained in a phone call from Chicago, where she had attended the James Beard Foundation awards ceremony. . Maydan was nominated this year for its Outstanding Wine Program.

“The politics and hierarchies of wine, its geography and its wars are all European and male-centric,” she continued. “So we’ve reached out to marginalized winemakers — refugees, women of color, women around the world who don’t have access to the American market.”

As Arnold told me a week later at a Maydan launch event, Go There Wines aims to uplift “people who have been left out for too long” and who have been “underfunded and under -represented”.

Profits from Go There Wines will be shared with winemakers, who are guaranteed sales and marketing by Go There. But it’s not just a profit-making business. He also wants to change things. Previte and its partners want us to “go there” – not just traveling to see the world, but also talking. How many times do we hold ourselves back and say, “Don’t go”? These wines are meant to broaden our conversation beyond our normal, limited horizons.

And that’s part of the appeal for their winemakers, including Abdullah Richi, a Syrian refugee who fled the war there and now makes wine in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. The label of his pinot noir pet-nat explains his dream: “I will make wine again in Syria.

“This wine celebrates all the matriarchs,” Pikashe says on the label of its sparkling cinsault.

“We fell in love with making wine,” Gomez and Taribó proclaim over their syrah from the Santa Rita Hills in Santa Barbara, California, as if every sip we take renews their vows and celebrates their union.

“Viticulture is freedom; a value that we never take for granted in our country,” the Abuladze sisters say of their amber wine made from Georgia’s indigenous Krakhuna grape. The label of their light and refreshing red of the dzvelshavi variety is even more emphatic: “Men have been making wine in Georgia for 8,000 years. It’s our turn.

Do I even need to tell you that these wines are delicious?

Elisha A. Tilghman