In the fall of 2021, Tracey Love of Blenheim Vineyards reached out to me asking if I’d like to be a host for a new wine club the winery was planning for 2022, the Oenoverse. It was going to be a club to give a voice to a diverse array of wine afficionados and lovers not only so far as race and color, but level of experience talking about wine. I said yes.
Before Oenoverse, I hadn’t visited Blenheim since I first came of legal drinking age a year or two after it opened. I remembered it well. There were a lot of flies. It wasn’t especially lux. And the wine was okay. It wasn’t my first Virginia winery visit back then, those would have been Wintergreen Winery (which no longer exists) and Veritas.
I’m glad I gave Blenheim another try. Fast forward many many years, and the wine is well, beyond okay. It’s good. Winemaker Kirsty Harmon is just everything. Highly respected across all of Virginia wine. She admits to preferring whites over bold reds and often talks about how she enjoys making “approachable” wines. The tasting room has a lot of charm. In a nutshell, Blenheim’s evolution is a peek into the evolution of Virginia wine as a whole.
Other lessons learned, I’m a community person even if I’m not a collaborative person. The word collaboration scares me. Probably because I’m used to it in a corporate sense where I’d rather get things done on my own. Community is different though. It’s individuals coming together for a common cause with the intent of impact. And what an impact Oenoverse has had. Building off the flurry of wine diversity initiatives that came out of a general growth in diversity as the pandemic and racial unrest touched consciouses, the wine club and community has built partnerships with the the Veraison Project and our efforts in 2022 culminated with Two Up Wine Down, a wine festival in Virginia highlighting Oenoverse hosts and other wine enthusiasts of color from Virginia and beyond.
Next year there will be new hosts for Oenoverse, the second annual Two Up Wine Down, and I’m sure more. The role the first group of hosts will play going forward is unclear, but no matter what it is, I came, I saw I conquered. Cheers!