EDITOR'S NOTE - Renegades at the Gate

Great wine changes slowly. Consistency, in fact, is one of the criteria for its greatness: a careful, deliberative approach to the process of growing and making the wine, a consistent way of interpreting the regional character of a classic blend or the terroir character of a specific site.
     The people who control top sites sustain a small industry of scientists, both theoretical and practical, many of whom in the past have been committed to the status quo. They provide the raw data, the creative thought and sometimes the philosophical arguments that may drive a subtle change in the vineyard or the cellar.

     And then there are the renegades working outside the walls of the great estates. The rebels whose tastes may be as sophisticated as the proprietor of the castle on the hill. The mavericks who are not invested in a tradition or a style, but create new ones. Many of today's most talented growers have been working in regions considered secondary or tertiary, or with varieties abandoned long ago.
     Once relegated to outsider status, these rebels and renegades have found their way into the elite circles of wine. In particular, the once radical fringe of organic and biodynamic growers is now a vital part of the viticultural establishment, with its share of influence over the world's top vineyard sites. "Conventional farming," based on the technological revolution that swept through viticulture after World War II, is a system heavily reliant on petrochemicals, after all.
     Though conventional farming and the winemaking traditions that it fostered will continue to play an important role in the wine business, the elite, the creators of great wine, have moved on. Their work has already begun to spread throughout the industry. From every possible perspective-whether in the growing, making, selling, consuming or communicating about it-wine is undergoing a radical transformation. This issue is dedicated to the players driving that change.