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Why so what?

Why so what?

‘So what?’ is a question that has held a beat in my mind since I was in high school. It began with a guy  – a trumpeter I was wild about and began to date. I went to every gig I could, and he introduced me to a love for jazz that would quickly surpass my fascination for him. I would play Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue album on repeat. The slow, comforting, recognizable bass of ‘So What’ would signal the start. I would imagine all the lyrics that could follow if I were to write them.

‘So What’ is a song that sounds deceptively simple, but its historical roots run deep, drawing from pieces of music’s past then incorporating it in a very radical new way even for jazz. Miles was over the predictable chord arrangements dictating jazz at this time in the 50s. He was seeking a way outside jazz’s increasingly traditional form - to break free and find space and possibility. Modal jazz offered this. And he poured himself into this form with Kind of Blue, a recording which was said to be largely improvised, allowing the energy and anxiety of the band to come through, as no one quite knew which note was coming next. This released him (and us) from a dependence on a familiar, catchy chord scheme, and permitted the listener to enjoy the sound, emotion, and feeling of the music. It invited us into the in-between.  He showed that small shifts can make big, impactful differences.

In college, it was a teacher’s assistant who began each class with: so what? “So what?!,” she would push. What even mattered about this novel? We were asked to share a quote or interpretation that struck us as significant. And this it would begin… so what? Again, we would articulate it more clearly, more precisely – “well, it matters, because…”. So what? A third or fourth time of this exercise, and… there IT was. The heart of the question. Its essence. Its purpose.  

I left each of those classes with a feeling of elation and a deeper connection to language, culture, multiple perspectives, and the important role beauty has in living a more enriching life.   

This is not dissimilar from what pulled me in so quickly into wine. Each bottle was a new story, region, tradition, culture, science, and a way of accessing a larger world. When I finally got to meet the people behind the bottles and see their homes, eat at their tables, my desire to share this with others grew.

Over the years, I have witnessed the good, bad, and ugly when it comes to the wine industry. Since the start of Covid, our industry has been grappling with some very difficult and necessary conversations hopes to achieve a healthier, happier, more inclusive global community. What wineries, distributors, restaurants, shops, and writers say and more importantly do in the form of action matters.

I pondered how I could act? Why does wine matter? How can wine matter? After a long think, I had realized how far I had gotten from what drew me to wine in the first place: the families, the culture, the history, the connection with people, the phenomenal work so many were doing through wine … the inspiration.

So What would be my so what?

I began @sowhatwine as a platform on Instagram in January 2021 in order to shine a light on exceptional individuals who go above and beyond in their vineyards, cellars, and communities in ways that require vision, risk, money, a lot of time, patience, care, courage, sacrifice, and passion. They are leaders who are hardly fearless, but they do it anyway each and every day – which is more admirable. When I ask myself if wine is a vocation ‘worth’ pursuing, these wineries remind me that this is so much bigger than what’s inside the glass.

How a grower works with nature matters. What gets added to wine and into our bodies matters. How workers are treated matters. How tradition is conserved over generations in historical regions matters. How employees are treated, compensated, and protected matters. How grapes are rescued from extinction matters. How old vines are preserved is a wonder and delight. It matters. How young people find a way to break into winemaking is inspirational and so brave… it matters. How a superpower like spinning beauty from grapes into wine is used for the greater good matters! And, of course, how wine brings us together with others over a table with conversation really matters.

And so, welcome to So What in the physical world! You can finally walk in and discover exactly what I mean by a ‘so what’ wine! They represent all the things in life worth living and fighting for… I can’t wait to tell you their stories and impact one bottle at a time. Who knows? These wines with purpose just might change your life.

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