A Timely Story About Me
People tell me that I need to talk more about myself in Midwest Wine Press. So this is a reluctant column about me.
The first thing you should know about me is that I think the amount of time news people spend talking about themselves is strange. During the 80’s, the Indiana University School of Journalism taught us that in order to write news, it’s best to take the reporter out of the story as much as possible.
Today, the Indiana University School Journalism, once one of the best in the country, no longer exists and the number of people who trust the media is a minority. This development troubles me. The fourth estate was intended by our Founders to be a check on power and government. Now, entertainment and news have become one in the same.
As a result of our traditional news style, I am told that Midwest Wine Press is old-fashioned. That’s OK with me. It would be nice to have more video on the site, but there’s plenty of video on the internet already. We do try to keep the stories short, however.
Back to me, the subject of this article.
I became more than just casually interested in wine during 2004. As a new property owner in far Southern Illinois, I started visiting local wineries not knowing what to expect.
What I found was wine that conveyed the simple, rugged qualities of Southern Illinois, which is one of my favorite places.
I also greatly enjoyed meeting Southern Illinois winemakers who are a very approachable bunch. In contrast with Southern Illinois, which is as unvarnished as an old, weathered barn, my Napa Valley wine experiences seemed more like Disneyland. Midwestern wine now is probably like California in the very early wine days, although that’s just conjecture.
At first, the agricultural aspect of wine was most interesting to me. Growing wine grapes in the Midwest is difficult and I greatly admire the people who do it. I have spent many enjoyable hours walking vineyards with grape growers from Ohio to Iowa and from Kentucky to Minnesota.
Fermentation is fascinating too. Bread and wine are important religious symbols for a reason. I can still remember way back to college biology when I realized that all these microscopic interactions can’t just be “happening.” The ancients knew there was something magic about wine. Wine is still microbial magic today.
Regional wine also is interesting to me from an environmental perspective. I have taken on environmental causes before, most notably a successful land preservation fight in Glenview Illinois where I lived for many years.
I now live near downtown Chicago. I am proud to say that as of this month, I am officially carless. Just a few years ago, my wife and I owned three vehicles and burned enough gas each year to fill a supertanker.
I do not believe it makes sense to ship so much food (and wine is really food ) to places that can produce food locally. If just 10% of the wine in consumed in the Midwest was made from Midwestern grapes, it would be revolutionary.
Obviously, more Midwest wine production has economic benefits, but the positives do not stop there. Monoculture, to the extent it’s practiced in some parts of the Midwest, is bad. Having a broader variety of crops would be good for all kinds of living things, including humans.
Monoculture also represents a form of centralization that has gone too far, in my opinion. During my life, business and government has been consumed with an idea that gargantuanism is good. When organizations get too large, efficiency suffers. With very large enterprises, it also seems like the wealth eventually gets concentrated at the top. Most Midwest wineries are family operations and I like that.
In regard to Midwest wine, I sincerely believe that our region will become a significant wine producer. Many of the wines made in the Midwest are world class already, but there’s a perception issue that needs to be addressed over time. It’s going to take a lot of effort from many quarters to build market share for regional wine.
And that’s the mission of Midwest Wine Press, to promote Midwest wine. I am very proud that over 100,000 people from all over the country and the world have visited Midwest Wine Press. Our writers are producing some of the best articles about regional wine and you won’t find such in depth coverage of Midwest wine anywhere else.
Now that I have breached my own rule about talking about myself too much, I am going to do something else I don’t like to do: Ask for donations:
Please make a donation to Midwest Wine Press by going to: Midwest Wine Press Campaign.
Midwest Wine Press has been financed largely out of my own pocket. Our advertisers and editorial contributors have also helped immensely. (Please do check out the businesses that support Midwest Wine Press.)
Midwest Wine Press is far from perfected, but hopefully you agree it’s getting better. One of my goals is to expand consumer coverage to focus on which wineries are really “local” and committed to quality.
Thank you for reading this column and for your support. Please check our crowdsourcing site, if you have not done so already.
Hi Mark, I love your idea of the wine tasting in Chicago. For many years my friends and I would attend the tasting at the Cultural Center. We really miss that event. Now days after retiring I moved to central Illinois and planted 8 vines. Last year 1 1/2 gal. of wine. This year 30 more vines and 3 gallons. Living in town my soil is original prairie. The vines are great and the wine is good and will be great as I gain experience. The information in Midwest Wine Press is spot on. Your publication is very important to me. As such I have reserved two places for January.
Perhaps making the tasting an annual event will bring out producers who can showcase their wines. I have traveled the 5 surrounding states tasting and buying some very good wines. It seems to me there are enough Midwestern wineries to support such an event. I hope you can organize something with your newsletter.
Sincerely, Karl Podbielski
Thanks for your support and for your kind words. I like your idea for a Midwestern wine tasting event for the general public. Michigan will be doing such an event in Chicago next year and I participated in a Michigan wine tasting at Webster Wine Bar in Chicago recently.
Look forward to meeting you in January!