I'm not sure when I became a side-eye-loving hater of all things "picture perfect." I think it was around two and a half in Mena, AR but, again, it’s hard to say. However, I have committed. In art school, I remember a rudimentary composition class that emphasized the importance of placement but also exclusion (i.e Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother). We looked at photographs before the final edit and something in me was crushed. The concept that everything is a construct and we as humans can shape almost any reality was suddenly so clear.
Since then what is excluded has always been more relatable to me.
TO FRANCE: one thing that struck me was the strong support system that many winemakers (ie, the names on the labels) have. Herve Villemade’s team pouring the massive line up at his table, Thierry Puzelat's daughter, Zoe, explaining Clos du Tue Bœuf to a large group of people with unfiltered humor in French and English, or the quiet, consistent support of Adrien’s Baloche’s blonde-haired friend. If you weren’t there, you'd never know.
Yes, Les Capriades was king, Labet was powerful, and the Loire reigned supreme. But what I liked most about the trip was watching. When you're there, you make your own lens. It can be as blurry or as straight edge as you want. I saw that even the most revered travel in packs and need validation. And though maybe not always seen stateside, women are respected badasses in France and beyond. Blah, blah, blah...next year, I'll have less imposter syndrome, speak more, and learn not as much.