The skies are clear blue, there’s a fresh layer of snow on the ridge, and the mercury reads five degrees in the sun on the morning we are sending our first quarterly issue to print—Spring. In the Berkshires, talk of a “real winter” harks back to the ’70s and ’80s, not so long ago, when temperatures were similarly brutal (more brutal, in fact) and snowpack lasted well past the equinox (two days from now, the high is predicted at 56).
The climate may be chancy, but I plan to get my firewood in early this spring, hoping to learn from the kind of forward thinking that led Ed King, Jr., to buy a horse farm in Oregon’s Coast Range and plant it to vines, similar thinking that took Sergio Manetti high into the Chianti Classico hills of Radda. King Estate and Montevertine may not have much in common, in terms of wine, but they both positioned their vines in the remnants of a cool climate by planting them high enough to catch an evening chill.
For this Spring edition, Patrick Comiskey drove the length of the Willamette Valley, stopping at vineyards planted in the hills long before this summer’s Heat Dome heightened interest in the Coast Range. Stephanie Johnson headed to the ridgetops of Radda in Chianti, finding a community of like-minded growers, encouraged by the elegant freshness of their Chianti Classico.
There’s no amount of forward-thinking that could prepare restaurants for the last two years. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a brutal winter of dislocation in the restaurant community—with some friends lost, others out of work or out of hospitality completely. Our friends who are working in kitchens and dining rooms are working overtime—through reopenings and new closures—trying to stay on pace with the shifting moods, thirsts and appetites of their guests.
Reporting on the restaurant community was difficult last year, when the dining rooms of so many respondents to our annual survey were closed. It was more difficult this year, when the disparities in their businesses and the wealth disparities of their guests have taken the community deeper into crisis. We talked with restaurant workers in a struggle for survival (many did not have the time or the data to respond to our poll) and the lucky few who had their best year ever in 2021.
For the media, 2021 brought its own upheavals—with paper shortages and forest management issues coming to the fore. We set out to strengthen what we do best, even as we work to lessen our carbon footprint. Since our reporting is tied to the annual cycle of winegrowing; we don’t need to participate in the 24/7 news cycle. So, we are focusing on a slower pace for our long-form journalism, slowing down our publishing schedule, cutting back on our paper usage and bringing you timely wine recommendations from our editors in biweekly online tasting reports. It’s a new, more sustainable model for us and, we hope, a better way to share our excitement with you over some remarkable fruits of the earth. You’ll find a lot of them in this quarterly edition, ready to bring sustenance and pleasure as we head into spring.
This story appears in the print issue of Spring 2022.
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