The mistral is a wind--a force really-- that dominates the Rhone Valley in France over 200 days a year. It is said to make one restless. At worse, it drives one mad. This wind is a reminder of how inextricably linked wine is with the elements-- the intimacy and challenge that outlines the shape of the harvest. The mistral presents paradox. While keeping the grapes armed against pest and disease, the squat bush vines hover close to the earth to protect its fruit from blowing away. Nothing comes easy in the Rhone. It's relentlessly hot, windy and thirsty. Much of the region hardly gets the fame or prices of its Burgundy, Champagne and Bordeaux neighbors. But each day, those farmers get back out there and tend to their vineyards. They produce wines of character, soul and modesty. It was wines of this region that really invited me into a lifelong passion.
Since then, I have grown to love just about any wine that strives to tell a story of place and people. Wines that impress upon the imagination a distinct personality. Wine can produce thought, laughter, tears and emotion-- a blurring of the internal and the external. Wines with context transcend into something else entirely. And so it is with friends, food and an understanding of the soil and hands behind the bottle that I enter most wines I consume. In this movement, wine becomes something that really matters. And that's always been the appeal and base of my argument that wine has merit in the aesthetic canon.
Ashley Hausman Vaughters, MW, came into the wine industry in 2008 while completing her Masters in English and American Literature at New York University. She moved to Denver, Colorado in 2009 to manage Little’s Fine Wine & Spirits and has conducted import distribution since 2013 for Old World Wine Imports. She earned her CSW through the Society of Wine Educators, was certified as a sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and finally attained her Diploma from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust before completing her Master of Wine through the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW). She currently teaches for the Wine Education Institute and also runs many private and public events through her education/consulting business--Mistral Wine Co., which she formed in 2014. Clients have included Rocky Mountain PBS, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Alliance Francaise, The Italian Institute and Liv Sotheby's International. Recently, she was awarded the Commanderie de Bordeaux aux Etats Unis Scholarship for outstanding performance in the IMW’s North American Education Programme. She also serves on the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board, for whom she is Chair of the Legislative and Business Development Committee as well as Secretary. When she is not teaching, selling or drinking wine, she can be found hanging out with her husband and stepson, reading, writing, running, cooking or obsessing over her dog. You can find her on Twitter/Instagram by the handle: vinovaughters.