In the coming months, localflavor magazine is embarking on series of articles featuring some of Northern New Mexico’s independent fine wine stores. “Independent” is an apt description of the people who operate our local retail wine stores. You have to have the audacious passion of a Broadway producer to invest the capital necessary to get a license, let alone to purchase inventory chosen from the estimated 10,000 different grape varieties, which translates, exponentially, into hundreds of thousands of wines. What is clear is that each neighborhood wine store—grand, storied, or mom-and-pop—is operated by individuals of unique and resolute vision.
A palpable transformation is occurring in the wine community here and around the country, not unlike that of the “farm to table” movement. Any chef worth her fleur de sel is adamant about sourcing her products, be they natural, sustainable, organic, or simply the best out there. Owners and managers of our fine wine stores are pursuant of the same prevailing desire: to bring this global, whirling life back into our own hands, to give credence to craft, and to heed what we consume. Spend time in any fine wine shop in the Santa Fe or Albuquerque area and you will find fervent “cork dorks” guiding customers away from industrialized brands and toward grower Champagne, natural wines of Loire, garage pinot noir from California Central Coast. We can’t all be farmers, winemakers, or sommeliers, but we can all participate in how and where we choose to spend our money. In this highly competitive business, there is, nevertheless, a collective spirit that unites these purveyors: the celebration of craft, honor of the land, and the art of winemaking.