Texas Wineries

Dianne Williamson and Wine

I always make a point to read the Dianne Williamson commentary in my Sunday Worcester Telegram. She usually is the champion of the "small people", sticking up for their rights. For example, I am going on a Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) cruise and read with interest how she was helping make known a really awful NCL SNAFU. I made sure many people knew about her article.

So it was with some interest that I saw on May 29th, 2005 that she had chosen to write about wine. She had decided to write about a personal hot-topic of mine - the Supreme Court ruling regarding wine shipments, where they in essence said states should allow wine shipments fairly. A local senator, Senator Moore, was following up on it by pressing Massachusetts to allow shipments of wine to consumers' homes. However, rather than praise this as being a wonderful thing for normal wine drinkers, Dianne was ridiculing it. She claimed that politicians should solely focus on finding more money for poor people and not care about anybody else.

As I had been listed in the senator's press release, here is a quote from the article:

... here's what she [Lisa Shea, i.e. me] says in the press release: "It is completely unfair that I can easily get my hands on the mass-produced wine that is often of lower quality, but I cannot buy the smaller, high quality wines that are special and unique. ... If I am intrigued by new releases from up-and-coming wine regions like Long Island, New York, or Texas, I am completely out of luck. My wine drinking is at the mercy of what the distributors say I should drink."

Now I'm not a political consultant, but I think Lisa Shea's heart-rending tale deserves a wider audience. I think Mr. Moore should invite Lisa Shea to address the state Democratic Convention, to alert voters to inequities in the commonwealth's fine wine distribution system and one local Democrat's valiant effort to correct them. Then, if there's time, the Democrats could turn their attention to social injustice and the poor.

Don't get me wrong. I think it's important that our elected officials endeavor to better the lives of their constituents, even if some of these constituents have so much free time on their hands that they find themselves "intrigued" by wines from Texas.

OK, so Dianne doesn't like it that as a wine journalist, I'm intrigued by wines from other locations? She would rather that wine journalists only write about mass-marketed Californian wines?

Dianne ends her article by saying:

I'd also like to thank Lisa Shea, innocent victim of evil wine distributors, for teaching me a valuable lesson: you don't have to live in Holden to serve as a valued source of column material.

In addition to her comments about me, Dianne also tossed in a slam on a local winery which actually makes quite nice wines -

The bills would enable Massachusetts residents to order cases of wine from California instead of being tied to local wineries such as, say, Nashoba Valley in Bolton, which is the go-to place when you're craving a dry blueberry merlot, which, for wine connoisseurs, is never. But Nashoba Valley is hampered in its wine-making capabilities because it lacks proper altitude and optimum weather conditions, so much so that it feels compelled to add all sorts of unnecessary letters to the name of its wine store out of utter frustration, so that it's spelled "shoppe" for no apparent reason. But that's what happens when winemakers work themselves into a snit.

The Nashoba-bashing section of the article was, sequentially, before she mentioned me. As I was reading the article, once I hit that nasty comment, I'd already decided to respond and rebut to Ms. Williamson. The fact that Dianne then went on to mention me by name made me think twice about writing her, because now she'd undoubtedly decide that I was merely writing to defend myself. I was far more bothered by her attack on Nashoba than on her complaining that I liked wine (with me being a wine writer and all).

I did end up writing her. Here was my response!

Greetings and salutations. I was in fact going to write a response to your article long before I got to Page 2 and saw my name mentioned :). I am a wine journalist and write for the New England Wine Gazette. I cover all of the wineries from Maine down to Connecticut and Rhode Island. That was a pretty cheap shot you made at Nashoba Valley Winery! I actually know *many* "wine connoisseurs" who enjoy blueberry wine. Sure, you don't drink blueberry wine with filet mignon. You don't drink riesling with a filet mignon either, and it doesn't mean riesling is a bad wine. It just means the match isn't a great one. I have served the dry blueberry merlot to many wine fans with a variety of hearty dishes, and it goes really well.

As you and I are both "women who are not young", I would have thought you'd be encouraging people to drink blueberry wine! Take a trip down to Connecticut sometime, to the DiGrazia vineyard. It's run by Dr. DiGrazia who is a medical doctor specializing in older women. He has done a great deal of research on antioxidants and how critical they are to women as they age. He actively promotes and makes blueberry wines because the antioxidants are so potent in these wines. If you were going to slam a local wine as not being worthy to drink, I could have pointed several out to you, but to slam Nashoba's blueberry in particular makes no sense at all to me.

As far as the later pokes at me, I did smile at them. You don't like the word "intrigued"? Weren't you ever intrigued by a story idea? I'm a wine writer, wines intrigue me! That's why I write about wine. And in fact, my ability to write about wine is severely hampered because Massachusetts has some of the worst liquor laws in the US. Here's a typical conversation I have with wineries.

Winery: Hi, Lisa, I love your wine site and writing style! Our winery is about to bottle all of its rieslings in screwcaps to make wines less expensive for our buyers and to prevent the wines from getting mouldy. Would you like to try a bottle of our riesling and write about the flavors?

Me: That's a great idea, I would love to! I am in Massachusetts. Who carries your wines?

Winery: Oh, we can't find a distributor in Massachusetts to carry us, they claim our winery is too small. Also, it's illegal to ship to your state. Sorry, we have other phone calls to make.

My wine website is international and gets over a million pageviews a month. However, I can only write about wines I taste. To do otherwise would be unethical. I always buy the wines I review myself for the same reason - to keep the reviews ethical. If I can't even buy the wine - wines that pretty much every other country and state can receive - then I am now at a large disadvantage compared to wine writers anywhere else.

Don't even get me started on the other ways Massachusetts causes trouble for small business owners. I created a LLC to protect me legally. In just about every other state, this costs $25 up front and $25 a year. Massachusetts charges $500 up front and $500 every year - for the EXACT SAME PROTECTION. I would have thought, as the defender of the little people trying to improve their lives, you'd have been all over this sort of thing.

If you'd just gone to google and typed in "Lisa Shea Wine" it would have been easy enough to see why this is so important to me. In fact, you can just type in "Lisa Shea" :). If you're saying that, as a journalist, I shouldn't complain to my senator when laws are actively harming my ability to compete with journalists in other states, then I do have an issue with that stance.

To see why I'm actively interested in shipping issues, be sure to check out the Cost of a Wine Bottle Breakdown!

Press about Lisa Shea / WineIntro.com

All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.