Aspen Times Weekly: Resolutions Made Under the Influence |

Aspen Times Weekly: Resolutions Made Under the Influence

by Kelly J. Hayes
Wine barrels in an underground cellar
Getty Images/iStockphoto | iStockphoto


Some people are simply larger than life, and Serge Hochar, who passed away at age 75 this past week while swimming in Acapulco, Mexico, certainly was one of those people.

For those unfamiliar with this giant of a man, Serge was the proprietor of Chateau Musar, the Lebanese winery that produced Bordeaux-style wines in the Beqaa Valley near Beirut, an area better known as a war zone than a wine mecca. His dedication to producing outstanding wines transcended the circumstances of strife that defined the region.

But beyond that, Hochar was a citizen of the world, and an evangelist for wine who traveled the globe spreading good cheer and selling great wines.

Serge visited Aspen for the Food & Wine Classic a few years back and was a gem. He will be missed, not just by the wine world but all of humanity. Rest in Peace, Serge.

Writing a weekly column of any sort requires discipline. And while I may be just getting around, on this, the 8th of January, to putting my plans and schemes for 2015 on paper, rest assured that I try to maintain a high degree of discipline when it comes to penning this column. You’re just going to have to trust me on that.

However, as in any endeavor, adjustments, tweaks and improvements can be made that will make WineInk more satisfying, informative and worth your time. So, with glass in hand, here are some of my resolutions to make WineInk better in the coming year.

Let it Breathe

There are probably fewer than 100 people in America who write weekly about wine. They, like I, are under the burden of a weekly deadline and many, like I, inevitably find themselves writing to that deadline, getting their thoughts on paper in the final desperate hours before their editor needs them.

In 2015, this cycle will be broken.

In the coming year I will write with the subject, rather than the deadline, in mind. When inspired I will immediately commit that inspiration to a digital file. I will then let it breathe and revisit it like I often do when I save a final swallow of wine for the morning after. The Gallos once had an advertising slogan, “We will sell no wine before its time.” Well, in the future this column will only be published when it has been properly aged, opened and decanted. (Do you hear me, Jeanne, my dear editor?)

Drink More Wine

This may get a big “duh” from you, but in the past year I have found myself distracted by bourbon and brews. That is to say that I have passed up opportunities to taste new wines as I have dallied in the oh-so-potent cocktail culture and been distracted by the burgeoning beer revolution. I know that I have a professional obligation to taste and learn about the world’s wines, and I promise to maintain focus moving forward.

Drink More Locally

Again, this may seem obvious as well, but in 2015 I plan to spend more time with local somms, in local shops and with local reps. The Roaring Fork Valley has such a rich wine culture, and there are so many people who are passionate about the wines they drink and sell. Once a month there will be a story focusing on something live and local. Oh, and I want to spend time with some of the Colorado winemakers again. Their efforts deserve another look.

Visit More Wine Regions

On those occasions when people comment to me personally about my column it often is a result of them having been to a wine region they’ve read about. We are a valley of travelers, and wine travel can frequently be the best travel. Grapes grow in great places with sun, sea and mountains. This year I hope to go back to places I have already visited, but also to discover new regions that I can write about. The Douro? Stellenbosch? Rio Negro?

Learn More About Wine

In The New York Times obituary by Eric Asimov about Serge Hochar (see sidebar) he quotes the Lebanese winemaker as saying, “I know nothing about wine. I know how to make wine, but I know nothing about wine, and each day I discover that I know less.” Yes, the study of wine can be humbling, even for a wine-making savant like Hochar, but there are ways to study and learn about all of the things, all of the “ologies,” that make wine so fascinating. I am particularly interested in wood and concrete and the vessels that are used to ferment and age wines. There will be barrels.

Let More People Read the Column

It is an honor to write for the Aspen Times Weekly, a paper that has roots deeper in this state than any other. But if I can find a way to further disseminate the content of WineInk, it will provide a greater forum for all of us in the Aspen wine community. The larger the audience, the more marketers will want to use this as a place to tell their stories.

All of these resolutions use the word “more.” What that says is that I believe we have built something over these last seven years and 390 columns that can be improved by simply doing more of the same.

Thanks for reading, and let’s drink some wine in 2015.

Kelly J. Hayes lives in the soon-to-be-designated appellation of Old Snowmass with his wife, Linda, and black Lab named Vino. He can be reached at

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This week in Aspen history

“Without any exception the worst snow storm known since the advent of the railroad west of Leadville has been raging over the crest of the continental divide since last Thursday,” asserted the Aspen Tribune on January 31, 1899.

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