If you had spent yesterday afternoon strolling through sunsoaked downtown Sonoma, a nerve center of California wine country, you might have had your Mediterranean reverie broken by an extremely conspicuous member of desi America: one blue-silk-clad, bejewelled and beflowered Bharat Natyam dancer, desperately trying to find the stage of the Kathmandu Fall Festival. I can assure you I did not blend in. This is a good thing, because the woman who finally helped us had never heard of Depot Park by name, but took one look at me and remembered that “there’s some kind of colorful festival in that park behind us? That must be what you’re looking for.”
After the set, I looked around the stage for the usual cooler full of water bottles, and was instead greeted by a vision of wine. The usual festival array of Tibetan flags and bells mixed with bottles and glasses everywhere, the regular sound of corks popping interlacing with the flute and mrdangam music. Despite booths of frying samosas, the smell of vintage was stronger. Since my family doesn’t drink, we decided to complete the evening with a visit to the video store, and got ourselves the documentary Mondovino. If you’re at all interested in trade, globalization, agriculture, mercantile tradition, France, Italy, Northern California, or, of course, wine, I highly recommend it, though it is a bit long. It’s a film squarely set in Europe and the Americas, featuring titans like the Mondavi family, the ancient Florentine clans Frescobaldi and Antonieri, and a charming elderly Bordeaux gentleman named Hubert de Montille who can’t stand “monolithic thinking.”
It prominently features a travelling consultant, “the flying winemaker,” who, along with Maryland critic Robert Parker, makes and breaks wines. Michel Rolland caught my attention with a throwaway line when he was pointing out the spread of his clientele on a map,
”Hungary, Italy, France, Argentinia, Chile, Mexico, The United States, and oh–I forgot one over here–India!”
India?! That’s right, India. The October 17 issue of India Today has a three page spread that, at first glance, doesn’t bode well for desi oenophilic journalism–even I know that “Brewing the Indian Dream,” is a headline directed at the wrong beverage. But what growth the article reveals within!