Friday, April 25, 2008

Back Stories: A Good Harvest Week for Articles

For writers, each article we author has its growing season as surely as does a ton of grapes or a peck of tomatoes. The writer works with an editor to decide what seeds of ideas are worthy of planting, followed by the preparation for growth of that idea through research and travel assignments. Next follows the pruning and the green harvesting -- deciding what goes into the writing and in what order and what is left out. Finally, there is the harvest, when the article is in print and on the newstand or posted to the website.

Last week was a good harvest -- an article in Intermezzo on dining in the dry towns of Martha's Vineyard, a piece in The NewsJournal on stalking and eating wild greens, a couple of contributions to Wine Enthusiast's tally of the 25 best wine tasting rooms, and an article on upselling wines and spirits in a down market which appeared in Beverage Media publications.

Here are their back stories.

Any politician will tell you the island of Martha's Vineyard off the coast of Cape Cod is a beachead of liberal thought with a strong undercurrent of contrarianism. How else do you explain the fact that Prohibition was never repealed in four of the island's six towns? Oh sure, you can drink alcohol there, but you can't buy beer, wine or cocktails in these towns, even in the restaurants. Our family has been going to the Vineyard (think an East Coast version of Beverly Hillbillies) since 1982 and have had a house there since 1986. Each time we go to dinner, we have to remember to take our wine if we're going to a dry town or to leave it at home if we're headed for a Wetsburg. The result of our experience is B.Y.O.B Nights, an eight-page spread in the current Intermezzo (Issue 18). The text is by me, the recipes are by Island chefs, and the photos were taken by my wife and frequent collaborator, Ella. Intermezzo is on sale at most major local newstands and national book store chains.

I have a weekly wine column in The NewsJournal, the Delaware-based regional newspaper, but sometimes I get an urge to eat something, and they let me raid the refrigerator. In this case, as February turned into March, I remembered when as a pre-schooler I used to hunt for wild spring greens with my mother on our hillside farm on the western slope of the Appalachians. I was talking to vintner Anthony Vietri of Va La Vineyards near where I now live in Chester County, west of Philadelphia, and found that he hunted greens with his immigrant grandparents who grew up in the hillsides of Italy on the southern slopes of the foothills of the Alps. Small world. The result is the article Stalk on the Wild Side: In Spring a Forager's Fancy Turns to Young Greens -- So Tender, So Wild in the April 23 edition of the NJ. Vietri gives away his stalking secrets and tells us how fix a dandelion salad with egg and pancetta as well as a wild pasta dish -- spaghetti topped with sauteed dandelions and oyster mushrooms from the commercial mushroom farm next door. To stalk this article, track it down at, then click "Life" and then "Food."

If you love haunting (and hunting) wine tasting rooms, then you have to read On the Trail of America's Best Tasting Rooms in the May issue of Wine Enthusiast. The editors asked its writers and readers to contrbute their favorites. Two of mine -- Vietri's Va La Vineyards in Avondale, PA, and Gary Farrell Winery in Healdsburg, CA -- made the cut. Grab a copy to see which of your favorites are listed among the other 23.

Finally, those of you in the wine trade -- especially retail wine merchants -- are familiar with Beverage Media, which publishes the official beverage journal in more than 30 states, including New York. The editors asked me to research what strategies importers, distributors, and wine shops were using to keep high-end sales flowing while the economy is struggling like a marathoner hitting the 20-mile wall. The result is the cover story for the May issue -- Affordable Luxuries: Strategies for Upselling Wine and Spirits in a Down Economy. If you want to read it and can't get your hands on a copy, drop me a note, and I'll scan it to you.

COMING SOON! Road Trip to Florida

Until the next time...

Roger Morris

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