“Everyone’s been affected by the hurricane… everyone,” said Master Sommelier Guy Stout, a wine educator for Southern Glazer’s, when I saw him last night at a Bordeaux event at LeNôtre Culinary Institute in Houston’s Northline neighborhood.
After I attended the Bordeaux tasting, which included a guided tasting with celebrity sommelier Michale Madrigale from New York (below), I spent yesterday evening bouncing around wine bars in my adoptive city, talking to sommeliers about the status of the Houston wine community.
That’s the sign outside Underbelly (above) in our Montrose neighborhood, one of Houston’s most popular restaurants and wine destinations and a regular draw for out-of-town guests. Its owners have partnered with a local wine collector to present Wine Above Water, a wine-focused benefit for Houston-area wine trade members who have been displaced or otherwise affected by Harvey. As Guy rightly pointed out, we’ve all been affected — in one way or another.
Please read about the event and click through to the organizers’ website here (my post today for the Houston Press).
“No hesitation at all,” said Michael when I asked him if he had any reluctance in coming to our city so soon after the storm. “I was just glad when I found out we could get in.”
That’s Michael (above, left) with leading Houston sommeliers (from left) Sean Beck, Jack Mason, and Christian Varas.
Colleagues and peers from across the world have been writing me asking me how they can help with recovery efforts. Every dollar donated counts, I tell them, and donating to Wine Above Water will directly aid wine professionals who are facing mounting challenges as the restaurant industry and its patrons get back online.
But more than anything else, we need you to come here and see (and share the news) that we are open for business. Nearly everyone I talked to last night told me that their wine bars and wine-focused restaurants were up and running the day after the hurricane. In some cases, they unshuttered while the storm was still dropping up to 50 inches of rain across the greater Houston metro area.
My recommended foundations for donating are the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund
(established by Mayor Sylvester Turner) and the Houston Food Bank.
Please add Wine Above Water to that list.
But if you really want to help our community — and not just the wine and food community — please come here and spend money in our restaurants and shops. Please post a photo from Houston on your social media to let the world know that we are back on our feet. Come shake someone’s hand and share a glass of wine with one of the many displaced wine and restaurant professionals who are struggling to get by as our city rebuilds.
Thank you, Planet Bordeaux (organizer of last night’s event at LeNôtre), and thank you Michael Madrigale for not by-passing our city. That’s the type of spirit that will make #HoustonStrong even stronger.