When my husband and I, along with our baby and pup, moved from Australia to the small city of Kingston in New York’s Hudson Valley, we knew no one. We faced the usual challenges as we hunted for friends, jobs and childcare, but we gradually adjusted.
Still, a void remained. I was missing a wine community. After all, wine is a social endeavor. However remarkable the liquid in your glass, wine becomes infinitely more enjoyable when shared with those who not only appreciate its beauty, but recognize its cultural and historic significance and sense of place. In short, wine geeks need other wine geeks.
We meet monthly at members’ homes, each with a bagged bottle that fits a pre-determined theme.
At that point, I’d spent nearly a decade self-employed as a wine writer and communicator. While much of my work was done from home, I was blessed with a circle of wine-loving colleagues and friends. It was a circle that sprouted and grew organically and easily, thanks to the abundance of wine events in the big cities where I’d resided.
By comparison, Kingston felt like a small town. It had never occurred to me that, if I wanted a wine community in my adopted hometown, I’d have to work for it.
Eventually, I started to meet other like-minded wine lovers. I proposed creating a wine club to a sales representative for a wine distribution company. The idea, he said, was one he had also been pondering, and so we set the gears into motion. Exactly one year from the day my hubby and I moved in, I hosted eight wine lovers (all but one employed in the wine industry) at our Hudson Valley home.
The Kingston Wine Club was born.
More than two years later, our little club is still going strong. We meet monthly at members’ homes, each with a bagged bottle that fits a pre-determined theme. Over a home-cooked meal, we blind taste and try, often in vain, to guess details about each wine before unveiling it. Then, we share anecdotes about the people behind the wines and their techniques. Conversation digresses to other topics until someone eventually bellows above the din, “O.K., back to the wine!”
Over eight bottles, we share not just wine, but our lives. There are occasional serious moments, but there’s infinitely more laughter. Our club provides a safe space to learn about wine without pretense or intimidation, a space to try out new recipes and to pour quirky bottlings.
But mostly, it provides a sense of community, of belonging to something. That, after all, is one of wine’s greatest gifts.