Shedding some light on your favorite wine writers.
Lauren Mowery is a freelance writer, photographer, and contributing travel editor at Wine Enthusiast. She has covered coffee, wine, spirits, food, and travel for national publications including USA Today, Forbes, Fodor’s, Hemispheres, Saveur, Punch, and Eating Well, among others. Mowery is a graduate of the University of Virginia and Fordham Law School and is halfway down the path towards becoming a Master of Wine.
1. What was your first job as a writer?
When I entered law school, I imagined doing something noble in the profession. Fighting for international human rights or the environment. I joined the Fordham Environmental Law Journal as a notes and articles editor for which I edited and submitted work. My first piece was published in 2001: Earth Rights, Human Rights—Can International Environmental Human Rights Affect Corporate Accountability? Seems not much has changed since I posed that question.
2. What led you to becoming a wine writer?
Though research and writing are core skills of lawyering, I did not hold a media job until I quit law to pursue wine. As kismet would have it, I landed at a paper faster than with an importer (my back-up wine industry job). In 2012, I joined New York City’s Village Voice as the wine and coffee columnist, and my second career escalated from there.
My interest in wine started with travel. I credit my grandmother, an agent in the 1990s, who introduced me to the food, people, cities, history, and landscapes of Europe during her agency research trips. I learned to appreciate wine as a facet of culture and snapshot of place.
3. What kind of reader do you have in mind when you’re writing?
Americans tend to view wine in a silo, often reducing it to a score or consumer good, divorced from its origin and context. That’s probably because we didn’t see vines in the fields and bottles on our tables growing up. I get it—I’m from Ohio, land of corn and diet Cokes. Thanks to Prohibition, wine never factored into the American lifestyle or its economy until recent decades. Through writing, I try to change that perspective—reframe wine through the lens of the hands and lands that made it. Travel writing helps with that goal.
4. Where is the most magical place your wine writing has brought you?
I fall in love easily. In every wine region, I find something interesting to latch on to, whether the food and hospitality of Lebanon, the beaches and bottarga of Sardinia, or the natural beauty of Margaret River and South Africa. I’m working on a book that addresses this topic: transformative places that influenced my views on wine and life. My agent is Amy Collins of Squid Ink Literary Agency. We’re hoping for an early 2022 publication date.
5. What was one of your favorite articles to write, and why?
With a decade of work behind me, it’s hard to pick one piece to highlight. Nevertheless, I’d select Magic Beans, my first longform Village Voice cover article that ran in December 2015. A few people know I write about coffee with the same fervor as wine. This story, about two coffee sourcers trying to escape Yemen with prized beans during the war, has all the elements of a great thriller: nasty villains, multiple threats, a ticking clock, plot twists, and a sense of doom. Dave Eggers turned this true story into a book with film options. (Yes, I wish I’d pitched this nonfiction saga to literary agents, but at the time, I was thrilled to have made the paper’s front page.)
Freelance Writer and Contributing Travel Editor for Wine Enthusiast
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6. What is the best advice someone has given you on your writing?
Best advice on writing: Writers hate to write but love to have written. When the process feels insurmountable, know you’re not alone. Writing is supposed to be hard. Also, to improve your writing, you must read prolifically. That’s a firm truth no writer can escape. My grandmother gave me two gifts I carry today: a love of travel and a love of reading. She pointed me down this career path.
7. What would you be doing if you weren’t writing about wine?
If I had to give up writing about wine and travel, I might turn to environmental journalism or working with legal groups like Earthjustice. It’s funny how much I’ve learned about climate change through the study of wine because, at its heart, wine is farming, and the wine industry is the “canary in the coal mine” for agriculture. To see Bordeaux, in the span of my short lifetime, approve six new grapes to help vignerons adapt to evolving conditions, testifies to the pace of looming catastrophic change. Or I might say “screw the anxiety,” pack my camera, and head somewhere remote like Patagonia. Of course, I’d likely end up at a winery, maybe working in a windswept vineyard in southern Chile. Last woman standing at the end of the earth with a bottle of wine kind of thing.
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