Following up on some connections from the WineMaker Magazine Conference I have been visiting a list of web sites some of which are new to me, some not.
Not long after you start making wine, beer or cooking with sharing in mind you learn that tastes and experience are both broad and deep, and there is no single right answer for any question. From this I have adopted a sense of openness and I attempt to celebrate all the diversity that surrounds wine and food, even if I don't feel it fits for me personally.
I found myself in the middle of a vibrant conversation about kit wines versus grape wines in competition with some the crew from the Westchester Winemakers Club. Check out their blog and activities at http://www.westchesterwinemakers.com/. I have won medals for both and am increasingly focusing on fresh fruit, juice and grapes so I am less of problem for the prevailing sentiment. I did learn some solid fundamentals like sanitation and yeast health from my kit making, good things to have in hand when moving on to other mediums. The Westchester Winemakers Club’s members are very honest, strong in their convictions and passionate about what they do.
With differing opinions in hand there are truly multiple sides to this question and for me I don't really care what side you are on as long as you are happy with your own work. I am, and I have enjoyed the fruits of several other amateur winemakers’ labors so I think we all have a lot to be proud about.
Beyond that discussion I spent some more time looking through the group's postings and comments on winery visits, AVA specific tastings used to get inspiration on areas to look for grapes from, winemaker interviews and articles about any and all practices needed to make wine. My conclusion, these guys know their stuff! Not that they need me to confirm that, but credit is due so there it is. My next goal, try some of their wine.
I found an article on an experience making braised short ribs and pairing it with a member's Zinfandel to be very reminiscent of many of my own posts. http://www.westchesterwinemakers.com/2010/02/26/enough-academics-let%e2%80%99s-get-real-for-awhile/. With the kind of range the articles represent and the obvious depth of knowledge it is a worthy read from any winemakers at any stage.