By Elizabeth Hans McCrone
Frank Morgan thinks the way he got into wine isn’t much of a story, but he’s wrong.
It began more than a decade ago, when he was on a nine month long project for an aerospace company in northern California. His work required a lot of cross-country commuting from his home in Virginia, and one weekend a friend suggested he stay on the West Coast to explore the Sonoma wine region instead of flying back east.
“The first winery I visited was Gundlach Bundschu,” Morgan recalls. “After that, every other weekend for the next six months, I’d go to Sonoma and Napa and I’d visit four to five wineries a day. I had no idea what it was about. Wine became a curious rock in a stream, that thing that I could always turn to, I could always learn from. I love learning about wine.”
He also loves writing about it.
Morgan turned to his home state of Virginia to continue his wine exploration. He began emailing friends and recommending wines and restaurants he discovered along the way, and before long, was encouraged to start a regional newsletter. That blossomed into a regular blog and an invitation to write a column that turned into becoming Associate Editor of the Virginia Wine Lover magazine.
Today, Morgan continues to write his DrinkWhatYouLike.com wine blog, which has been named one of the top wine news blogs by Millesima, a distinguished, fine wine distributing company based out of New York. Morgan is also a contributing writer for the Piedmont Virginian magazine, edibleDC magazine, the Snooth wine site and Savor Virginia, a publication dedicated to the state’s food and drink industry.
Morgan will bring his wine exploration and writing expertise to his role as the moderator for an upcoming session at the 2018 USBevX Wine and Beverage conference and trade show, scheduled for February 21-22 at the historic Marriot hotel in Washington D.C.
The name of the session is “The Next Generation: Winemaker’s Perspective on the Future of Wine in the Eastern U.S.” Morgan explains that he proposed this session to conference organizer George Christie because he believes that the future of the wine industry in the eastern part of the country is of interest to wine professionals everywhere.
“The last few years have been watershed years for winemaking in the eastern U.S.,” Morgan notes. “You can’t open a (wine related) periodical today that doesn’t laud the wines of Virginia or other eastern states.
“The next generation will build on the world stage foundation that the pioneers have built,” he continues. “”We need to talk about what that future looks like.”
“With any wine producing region, you have the old guard folks who’ve led the way, developed an industry where there was none,” reflects Christie. “But the long term potential is in the hands of younger people, in the next generation. We need to acknowledge that, to feature younger, up and coming winemakers to share their vision of what the region will be 10 years from now.”
Krista Scruggs, an Assistant Winemaker to Deirdre Heekin, the proprietor of La Garagista, an organic vineyard and winery located in Vermont, will join Morgan on the panel. Scruggs has an extensive, international background in wine, which includes working for Constellation Brands, and is self-described as “proudly producing wines in Texas and Vermont.”
The panel will also include Nate Walsh, whom Morgan dubs as a “super-talented young winemaker. ” Walsh was making wine for Virginia’s award-winning Sunset Hills Vineyard and now has his own label: Walsh Family Wine. Walsh was named president of the Virginia Vineyards Association early last year.
Marin Brennan, an Assistant Winemaker at Bedell Cellars on the North Fork of Long Island will complete the panel. Bedell Cellars is one of the East Coast’s leading wine producers using sustainably farmed grapes and indigenous fermentations. Brennan worked her way up from tasting room employee to Cellar Master within three years at Bedell. She has been the Assistant Winemaker there since 2015.
For more information and conference registration, go to: www.usbevexpo.com.