If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s how quickly things can change…and how much a significant change can stay the same.
In a year defined by physical distancing, restrictions, and lockdowns, we’ve all experienced firsthand our own version of “Groundhog Day” as a result of months of self-isolation. Personally, COVID-19 not only prevented us from overseas AdVINEtures, it forced us to scale back on the thing we love most about wine, its inherent ability to bring people together.
In 2020, we posted 51 articles, including this one.
Consistent with past years, about half (27 in 2020) were interviews with winemakers. In previous years getting that many winemaker interviews was not a problem. We were ready and very willing to travel to wine country and meet with those winemakers who we thought were doing the best work in that particular region. But this year brought the pandemic-related travel restrictions. Luckily, we had a trip to Santa Barbara County in February that provided us with some content as well as some much needed sunshine! And in November of 2019 we spent 10 days visiting some of the best wineries in Chile and Argentina which gave us a bit of an inventory buffer of articles.
With borders closed to us we re-discovered our own back yard.
We made 2 trips to the Okanagan Valley in BC’s interior and 1 trip to the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island. All 3 of these trips revealed to us a much higher level of quality coming from the best of the local producers than we had anticipated. As a result we are now buying and drinking more BC wine and we are thrilled to be able to support our neighbours and enjoy some great wines. Winemaker interviews will always be the backbone of this blog. There is no better way to get an insight into how the wine got into your glass than hearing the story directly from the person who made it.
We also published six Primers, our educational articles that provide a background essay on either a wine region or a grape variety.
Our goal with these articles is to help our readers develop a deeper understanding of the topic and we try to straddle a position that has enough depth to satisfy our inner wine geek while not getting to technical or text bookish. We created three Video AdVINEtures that are Vlogs about a particular wine region. Wine country is so beautiful that it really lends itself to video and pictures. We published two more articles in our on-going series about Champagne’s Tête de Cuvées, writing about Piper Hiedseick’s Cuvée Rare and Deutz’ Cuvée William Deutz. Our original Primer on Champagne’s Tête de Cuvées published 3 years ago, remains one of our most viewed blog ever.
So add in a few articles here and there about other aspects of the wine world that we think are interesting, and another year has gone by with about one hundred thousand words published. Since we continue to add more subscribers, get more views and more followers, we guess we will do it all over again next year. It is kind of strange for us to look back on this little passion project we started six years ago, without a whole lot of planning and mostly just an intention to see how it would go. We don’t know if the ensuing six years brought us what we expected, but we can tell you this with certainty: it brought us the most fascinating and enjoyable experiences we can think of!
2020 reinforced the saying that ‘with challenge comes opportunity’, and watching the creativity with which people and businesses adapted was truly inspiring.
The wine industry has been particularly innovative. We have participated in more ways to “travel” than ever before, whether through a bottle of memories from a past trip, an online virtual tasting with a winemaker, or a live chat from a winery. And while not the same experience as being in the vineyard in person, it at least manages to fill the void somewhat until we can travel again. And we will. Numerous effective vaccines are on the horizon, rapid testing is being piloted at airports, and borders are starting to re-open within countries that have the virus under control.
As we wrap up a year that we think pretty much everyone will be toasting ‘good riddance’ to on December 31st, it did bring with it some valuable lessons that we shouldn’t soon forget once we emerge from the global pandemic:
Living in the moment – With no certainty on when we’ll have access to vaccines or see restrictions being lifted, the last 9 months have forced us all to slow down and take stock (and no that is not a reference to hoarding toilet paper!).
We have been acutely reminded what is truly important—our health, the health of others, the need for human connection, and the privilege of being able to travel freely without constraint. The lack of certainty has also denied us the ability to plan ahead. We’ve always had a trip booked as something to look forward to and without that, we have been forced to take each day as it comes; to stop and smell the roses (or in our case, wine).
The Gift of Time – How many of us pre-COVID wished we had more time?
Time to get all our chores around the house done, time to take that wine course we had been talking about for the past year, or time to read that wine book that has been sitting on our nightstand for at least that long. The first couple of months saw a shortage of baking ingredients as people perfected their breadmaking abilities, along with a scarcity of fitness equipment as people vowed to get in shape. As time wore on the monotony of being at home 24/7 curbed the enthusiasm of producing baguettes and muscles as the world seemed to shift to a more forgiving stance of ‘it’s ok to do…nothing’. Whatever your experience, there’s no question, the concept of time has certainly brought with it a new definition for many.
Supporting local – While we’ve always been big proponents of supporting local businesses, never has it meant more than right now.
It’s literally what is keeping many of our favourite businesses alive and sadly, has also resulted in the ultimate demise of some of them as well. Pre-COVID, we were travelling outside our Canadian borders multiple times a year exploring wine regions in literally every corner of the world. A closed US/Canada border, a global travel advisory, and a mandatory 14-day quarantine if returning from anywhere outside of Canada, has meant reacquainting ourselves with our own backyard. Two trips to the Okanagan Valley and one trip to the Cowichan Valley proved to be rewarding trips that were not only convenient but also eye-opening with the discovery of several new gems.
Adapting to a new normal – We will never go back to pre-COVID ‘normal’. Our new normal will take some adjusting to but there are some positive things that came as result and will continue. Connecting more frequently with family and friends. Recognizing the true heroes of our community – the frontline workers. The flexibility (and acceptance) of working remotely (pants optional). Wearing a mask will likely be around for a while, and personally, we will welcome stricter cleaning and safety protocols by airlines and hotels.
Practicing gratitude – We should all be grateful to this extraordinary year that has challenged us beyond measure and in ways we never could have imagined way back on December 31st, 2019.
As frustrating as the past few months have been, without these tests we wouldn’t appreciate all that we have with the same vigor we’re all (hopefully) going to have moving forward. As we get ready to ring in a New Year, and say goodbye to likely the most memorable one of our lives to date, let’s all raise a glass to brighter days ahead and remember how lucky we are for all that we have. Cheers!
January 4, 2021
Such a wonderful piece putting together so many of the things we learned this year. I so agree that we have had the opportunity to learn so much this year. It has been an opportunity to see what we really need, and what is really important. Beautifully written.
January 4, 2021
Thank you so much Robin, coming from someone we respect so much, we appreciate it. Certainly been an interesting year but we are very optimistic moving forward (with our learnings)!
January 3, 2021
Lots of great lessons in 2020 for sure. You’ve done a great job of capturing the opportunities that came hand in hand with the challenges of 2020. Thanks for sharing!
January 3, 2021
Thank you Martin…and thank you for all your support this year. Always great to connect with you and we truly look forward to when we can finally share a bottle in person someday!
December 30, 2020
It’s great that you got to go to some places. ! I look forward to traveling again! and hopefully seeing you two again! Happy New Year guys!
December 30, 2020
We certainly had an easier time than many worldwide given we were able to travel locally. We’re definitely looking forward to overseas AdVINEtures and hope that means connecting with you for a long overdue glass of Cab Franc! Cheers to you and Mike and all the very best for 2021!