“Même si on est un peu Américain en cave, on est très Français dans la vigne.”
While I was in London for the Languedoc Outsiders Tasting, I got interviewed by Marie Lahetjuzan with French Radio London. It was a very fun interview at the end of a long day of tasting and you all know how I can get chatty (especially in front of a charming girl). So they did a marvelous job of editing me down to fit into the time slot of her chronique on gastronomie, “A Table”.
If you understand French, then you can enjoy this mp3 of me stumbling through the interview that aired a couple times last week.
A Table avec Ryan O’Connell – source file
I’m a member of a group of winemakers known as The Outsiders, our forces marshaled by Louise Hurren. And in anticipation for our London tasting on November 10th, this article is an exploration of what being an outsider even means.
What the heck is an outsider?
There are people in this world who just always end up in weird situations. Outsiders will regularly surprise you. Not with contrived novelty. Not by jumping from behind a corner and shouting “Boo!” But by being genuinely and irrepressibly strange.
Am I an outsider?
Being a winemaker at a highly technical web conference gave me several glimpses of that priceless moment of surprise. Somebody says, “I’m a front end UX designer.” Somebody else says, “I’m a coder working on the W3C”. I say, “I’m a winemaker.” [small double take] In that moment, the true definition of outsider emerges. Somebody who is so unusual in the milieu, that they can contribute real insight. It might not always be great insight, but it’ll be original.
But if being a winemaker makes me an outsider to the tech world, doesn’t that mean I’m an insider in the wine world. Well, honestly, if you know anything about me, you know that’s not true. I’m a first generation winemaker with no training, certifications, or degrees. I was born and raised in a part of the US where award winning wine production is dominated by fermented fruit concentrate with flavors added (no joke, definitely a link worth clicking). I just love wine and I’m pretty good at making it.
People ask why
People also ask how. But all these questions are very hard to answer. I don’t have a rule book or manifesto that guides my decision making. I guess that’s also part of being a natural-born outsider. Who knows why we do the crazy things we do? But when you look at our amazing lives, our beautiful countrysides, our delicious wines, et cetera. . . don’t your questions fade away?
Sharing the Outsider Experience
I hope the Outsiders Tasting in London this November 10th will give a lot of people a glimpse of true weirdness. Not that the wines will be over the top, heavy-handed efforts to surprise you. They’ll just be effortlessly surprising. Because we’re all genuinely strange people. And we can’t help but make interesting wines.
Who exactly are the Outsiders?
At the London tasting, we will be many. In no particular order:
OUTSIDERS TASTING – Documentation for the wines and bios for the winemakers attending the Outsiders Tasting. The bios in this pack explains the outside angle for each of the winemakers.