by Jamie S.
On Monday evening my friend Julie and I started taking yoga at a new place. The yoga studio is in a gorgeous, newly rehabbed old manufacturing building by the railroad tracks in Athens, Georgia. It’s a great yoga studio, and we’re going to keep going to it. But that has nothing to do with what I’m writing about here, which is the rather odd thing that happened to me after class.
As I was walking to my car, I was startled to hear someone yell “Hey!” from another entrance of the building. I looked up. A man, a woman, and two dogs were standing in the doorway of a wine shop called Shiraz. The woman waved her arm at me.
“Want to have a glass of wine with us?” she yelled.
“Really?” I said, a little baffled.
“Yeah! Come on!” she responded. And so I did.
The woman was Emily, the owner. The man was her friend Louis. The dogs were Guinness and Kaylie. All were friendly and jovial. The wine was a Pinot Grigio that was perfectly good, but which I soon forgot to notice because I was so distracted by all the wonders inside the store.
First: Tons of affordable bottles. Literally hundreds and hundreds of favorably-reviewed, appealing, mouthwatering bottles of wine, many priced between $8.99 and $15.99. They were all sensibly organized by varietal instead of ghettoized by place of origin. There were too many to even fathom. This was obviously a truly great wine shop.
Second: Something caught my eye and made my heart skip a beat. It was a bottle of Seyval Blanc. My father, who died in 2000, used to run a winery in Ohio, and Seyval Blanc was one of the first varietals he ever grew. It’s a European-American hybrid grape that’s well suited to many eastern U.S. climates. In the right hands and with the right weather, it becomes a very buttery semi-dry white that I find very distinctive and very drinkable.
Third: The bottle of Seyval Blanc was from the north Georgia mountains, probably no more than 125 miles from my front door. Georgia is not exactly known for its wines, although there are a few producers fighting the good fight. Could it be that someone had made a really beautiful Seyval so close by?
I placed the bottle on the checkout counter, catching a fragment of Emily and Louis’s conversation about Galician Fish Ajada. (Note to self: Purchase halibut and smoked paprika for a temporary tumble off the local-foods wagon.) Emily noticed what I'd picked up and voiced her approval. I took a sip of PG and kept shopping.
On my way to an alluring table of Grenache--another of my favorite varietals--I was waylaid by a cheese cooler. It was at that moment that I remembered where I’d heard of this store. It was on the Sweet Grass Dairy web site. This store carried southern Georgia artisan cheese! And it was the only store in an 80-mile radius that did.
I asked Emily to please fetch me the wedge of Thomasville Tomme from the cooler.
And so it went until I had a bag of goodies (some local, some not--I should mention that there was Belgian chocolate). I must say that was some wily marketing on Emily's part, to have beckoned a local-foods aficionado into such a suitable store. So now Shiraz has an enthusiastic new customer. And I’m going to have to work a little bit harder at my yoga to make up for it.
P.S. I suppose you'd like to know how the wine and cheese were, right? My significant other and I tucked into them on Tuesday night. We both loved the Thomasville Tomme; we’d had it before, and it’s world-class. On the other hand, I loved the wine, whereas the s.o. was more ambivalent about it--he’s never been keen on Chardonnay’s butteriness, so Seyval isn’t the best choice for him. But that’s okay. More for me...
Jamie S. lives in rural Georgia and writes 10 Signs Like This, a blog that's part gardening journal, part cookbook, part sustainable lifestyle, and part short attention span.