W W W. C R A F T BY U M H . C O M With Lester’s beliefs in mind, it makes sense that wineries contract- ing with specific vineyards and partnering with growers on an on- going basis will create more reliable results, versus wineries buying more generic or commoditized fruit from the spot market. This type of information isn’t widely available to the consumer, or necessarily on the label, so asking your area wineries about where and who grew the grapes is a valuable question towards building your awareness and achieving a deeper understanding of the wines you’re tasting. Lester, who sells his estate-grown wines under his Wyncroft label, also makes several regional wines under his Marland label, which includes purchased fruit from vineyards around nearby Southwest Michigan. “I’m not interested in working as hard as I do, to only make a mediocre product, so I am interested in working with growers who under- stand my quality goals and are willing to go along with me,” Lester said. He explained how he keeps his illusion of control in place, through a grower contract which specifies criteria such as limiting the field to no more than three tons of fruit per acre, and Lester gets to choose the harvest date. “I work with them in the vineyard, looking at the fruit and I almost always get high-quality fruit,” he said. With all of these facts to wade through, it can be a challenge for wine drinkers to know what to buy, which wineries to have confidence in, and how to keep up with it all. Fortunately, it’s a challenge that is en- joyable to overcome. Frost cites the growing number of tasting rooms as the best opportunity for comparative tasting and getting more information. “So many states are at a level much higher than they were ten years ago. Tasting rooms speak in a helpful language and are reliable if you tell them what you like and what you’re looking for.” Old world or new world, it’s clear there are passionate winemakers and growers moving forward in exciting ways. We are growing and making wine in more places and at higher and higher quality. It is important that we don’t overlook American grown wines made at wineries in regions across the country. American wineries have set a course for independent, agriculturally-sound beverages long before other categories. They have grown their industry by getting mud on their boots and vines in the ground while also incorporating advanced techniques derived from hours and hours of field work, research, and trials. American wineries have added value to the soil, agricultural jobs to their communities, and delicious wine to our glasses. Expand your horizons and support a grower, by drinking wines from across the country. © Hundred-to-One LLC 2018. All rights reserved.