Friday, November 30, 2007

Richard Leahy - One Voice for the Eastcoast Wineries

First, let me say, that I do not know Richard Leahy. He is not an old pal, nor a another wine insider I am secretly corresponding with. There is no back to scratch here.

Richard Leahy is the East Coast Editor and Director of Eastern Programs for Vineyard & Winery Management magazine, a leading wine industry trade journal for North America. He coordinates the seminar program for Wineries Unlimited, the largest trade show for the wine industry in the East, and also coordinates the International Eastern Wine Competition, one of the oldest and largest in the country.

Mr. Leahy was also the Executive Director for the Virginia Wine Experience in London, which brought the top Virginia wines to serve for leading British wine media and trade in May 2007, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Jamestown settlement.

Mr. Leahy is currently enrolled in the Second Year program for the Institute of Masters of Wine. Other writing credentials include being a regional editor for Kevin Zraly's American Wine Guide, 2nd edition (2007); being Mid-Atlantic and Southern Editor for the Oxford Companion to the Wines of North America, (2000) and short pieces on wineries of eastern North America in Decanter.

Mr. Leahy has been a judge in the International Eastern Wine Competition, the Grand Harvest Awards, and regional competitions in the Mid-Atlantic, and was invited to participate in the Master Napa Valley program in September 2004, designed for the industry's most promising wine professionals. A graduate of William and Mary, Mr. Leahy also holds a Master's degree from the University of Virginia and lives in Charlottesville, VA.

All this said, it is important to note that Richard Leahy has been and is one of the single greatest promoters of East Coast wines in North America (along with Howard G. Goldberg), and is the leading voice for the wine movement on the East Coast. As the East Coast has now become a sizeable and recognizeable wine region, in and of itself, there is no singular voice that unites all the different states, New York, Virginia, Pennsylavania, Maryland, etc. like Mr. Leahy.

While it is good that the wineries are involved in their wine trails, and their regions (the Valleys and AVAs, etc.) and their state pride, eventually, for these wineries, and for the East Coast to gain the reputations they need to get to the next level, it will take someone who can speak with one voice for the region. That voice right now belongs to Mr. Leahy. He has the bully pulpit of his magazine column, and his position within the industry. As someone who believes in the East Coast as a region, as big and diverse as California, I think it is important to note that Mr. Leahy has that vision as no one else. And no one is articulating it as he is. And we should all be greatful he does.

And he is someone to be watched. The East Coast is something to be watched.