I read an interesting post on this topic over on vinoalvino.org (unfortunately it is in Italian so not all of you may be able to read it) written by the entertaining & knowledgeable Franco Ziliani. The gist was to pick up on a campaign in the US to "support your local winemaker".
Although the initial campaign was probably intended to be about supporting local business by spending your money there, to promote 'artisan' production, and to minimise transport costs and its effects, Franco took it off into a new area - Local Collaboration.
His point, which I thought was very valid, is that winemakers should spend more time supporting each other within a region so as to establish local best practice and encourage the development (and preservation) of their own regional/local style. If everyone (and in this case he was pointing the finger at Italian winemakers, but could equally apply elsewhere) employs the same 'consultants' and 'flying winemakers' then rather than improving wine, this is just one step further towards the standardisation of styles across the regions, and the world. This is particularly important in a country like Italy with its hundreds of defined (and thousands of undefined) regions jostling for recognition, differentiation and survival, but is also common to all winemakers.
How might they do this? Well, by a strange coincidence (or not) I read a post on such a topic by the folks at La Gramiere in France. These are 'flying winemakers' only in the sense that they are Americans who have flown to France to start a new life as winemakers. Their blog is a very open and honest view of the trouble they are going through to get established (good luck, by the way!).
[While you are at it, click here to see the heartbreaking reason for the scored out name on this image]
They have just visited Chateau Rayas, a very well known producer in their general area, not just for fun but also to exchange ideas (or should I say, learn from those who have been doing it for a while longer). I'm not sure how much of this goes on on a daily basis in this or other regions, but it is the kind of activity that should be encouraged. Plus, of course, we too can learn from it through the wonderful world of blogging winemakers.
I'm sure there are plenty of winemakers willing to tell others how to run their wineries, but how many of them want to take that advice?
Thank goodness for people like Matt & Amy at la Gramiere, and also Josh at Pinotblogger who give us a glimpse of life as a winemaker, and for their willingness to share information as well as listen to others.
Support local winemakers!