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.
I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be speaking at Paris Web 2010 in mid-October. We’ll be talking about my experiences with coming to the south of France as an outsider and how I simultaneously used the Internet to highlight that difference (separate myself intentionally from other winemakers) and also to integrate myself (truly becoming part of the winemaking community in the Languedoc).
On a related note, this presentation will also discuss the huge differences between how Parisians use the Internet and how country bumpkins like me use the Internet. This is related to a Palate Press article that will be published soon on how wineries have had trouble incorporating a lot of web 2.0 technology because of our rural settings.
The presentation will also allude to various bits of pop culture like Louise Hurren’s Outsider Tasting, the Survive France Network, Dave Sedaris, David Lebovitz, and Love That Languedoc (naturally).
I’m so excited. My biggest, most serious audience since my long lost courtroom days (I wasn’t on the stand, for those who think the worst of me. :D)
— also, adding the blog to AvenueEmpire EAVB_XCFFXPCMZV —