Welcome to Wine Like an American!

What have you gotten yourself into? I ask myself that a lot too.

On this site, we’ll be sharing experiences and passion for wine and the things that go perfectly with – the places, memories, and people that make it special. And by we I mean me and the folks who are crazy enough share their time and experience with me and you.

Wine is story

The grapes have stories, the farmers and makers and vineyards have stories and most of us have a story about a time shared with a loved one where a bottle (or two) helped create a memorable story.

So… What makes me qualified to start such a venture? Absolutely nothing!

Well, almost nothing … I have zero training in the wine profession, but if mastery of a subject requires 10,000 hours of focused practice … then I am well on my way. But, who knows … maybe taking some classes will make a great story.

Most of my time is spent as a creative director, brand marketer, designer, artist, and storyteller. I think that is why I love wine so much–it’s a creative outlet of culture. That kind of expression carries great stories with it.

What this site is not.

This is not another “wine without snobbery” blog. Pretentious “experts” exist in every hobby … running, biking, motorcycles, computers, cars … name anything, and they are there. There is no limit to the amount of self-importance and money we humans will throw at anything that excites us. I should know … I’m fairly guilty myself … That feels better … Glad I got that off my chest.

What I hope it will be.

Honest, definitely sarcastic and just a little humble … and fun, if not just funny.

As a designer, I am an interpreter. I’ll try my best to be that here too. I want to translate experiences and knowledge of authentic experts into approachable and relatable things for us normal folks … mostly because that’s what I need to for myself. See! Win-win!

Basically, I’m just a regular guy who grew up where rural Appalachia begins to blend with the metropolitan mid-Atlantic. Wine was not the beer of choice when I was younger. Over the last decade, I’ve evolved from genuinely disliking wine–and some wine drinkers–to being completely smitten and becoming one with the enemy. My wife can confirm that I’ve nearly reached the annoying status all my practice has brought me to.

North Gate Vineyard RkatsiteliComing home.

Apparently, this newish passion of mine is not completely out of left-field. My dad–who is the hardest working blue-collar regularly awesome guy I know–recently helped me remodel the master bathroom in my house … seriously … I promise this site really is about wine … mostly … Stick with it!

When we are done for the day, he usually grabs a beer out of the fridge, but, on this day he wanted to be supportive of my new passion, so he asks me to open up a bottle to celebrate finishing the tile.

The conversation went like this:

Me: What are you in the mood for? What do you like? Red or white?

Dad: Something cold!

Me: Okay … I’ve got the perfect wine.

Dad: Open it.

Me: Tada… This is an old world grape from Eastern Europe just like your Grandad.

Well, the grape is. This Rkasiteli is from North Gate Vineyard up on the mountain in Purcellville.

See on the label …

Oh … Wait … I’m wrong … Apparently, the grape is from the Republic of Georgia …

So … still old world, but maybe Asia and not anywhere near where we came from. Oh well, it’s the thought that counts, and I’ve had this one before and it’s really tasty.

You know your great grandad made his own wine. He had 3 rows of grapes and his arbors were from here to that old yellow house over there. It was terrible wine!

Dad: You know your great grandad made his own wine.

He had 3 rows of grapes and his arbors were from here to that old yellow house over there (that’s like 50 yards if you’re still with us). It was terrible wine!

He had 3 kinds of grapes and on Easter, everyone in the family, including us kids, had to have a sip. It was awful.

Some of the grapes were really sweet, but we were not allowed to pick them. He would get really angry, but when he was not looking, grandma would sneak some bunches for us.

She was an amazing woman.

Me. Cool. Maybe wine is in my blood after all and I should try to make my own terrible wine someday.

Wine is stories. Wine is people.

That is what I want to capture here through the wine we drink, the places we go and the things we discover.

I named this thing Wine Like an American because I want to celebrate humble roots planted in a new world that—against the odds—grew into something pretty damn cool. Not just for me and my family, but also our winemaking and drinking county.

Don’t worry … as an American, clearly, I feel it is my right and duty to drink wine from all over the world and comment on it occasionally too.

We needed a little help from the French to get this nation going and sometimes, I need a little help from their wine to get me going too. Plus, who doesn’t love New Zealand, Australian, Spanish, German, Italian and … ok … wine from everywhere.

My first time.

The first wine tasting that I actually remember enjoying was about 15 years ago at Rappahannock Cellars in Virginia. It was not because the wine was good (but, it is). It was because the person guiding our tasting was a real human and made the wine understandable and approachable.

That is what I hope this place can be too.

My goal is to offer an interesting perspective on the magical juice that so many of us love. At a minimum, I hope you’ll at least be entertained by my stumbling through the process. 

Thanks for sticking with this long-winded intro. You definitely deserve a glass of wine now.

– James