Alright, here's the deal:
If you've read anything from me, or even just my bio, you know that I came by my love of wine through a different route than is typical it seems. I didn't grow up in a family of wine drinkers, or even really have any exposure to it. Although thinking back on it, my grandfather always loved a good glass of Cabernet and would often randomly break into a slurred version of 'John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt' at the table...Hmm...Perhaps they were connected...Anyways, when I started my job at a small local wine and spirits shop in a suburb south of Nashville, I had no idea what I was doing. As I like to say, "I was pretty sure a Cab was red, but I wasn't 100% sure..."
Fast forward a few years and here I am uncovering a passion I never knew existed inside of me. Somewhere along the way I fell in love with learning about wine, teaching others about wine, and of course, drinking wine. In fact, the whole reason I started this thing was because I wanted a platform to teach people that you don't need a fancy upbringing, or tons of money and twelve course, white glove meals in order to love, appreciate, and be knowledgeable about wine! It's like the old saying goes, 'In Vino Veritas,' or in amERican, 'In wine there is truth,' and really, isn't truth for everyone, not just the social elite? Ok, I get it, I'm definitely stretching the meaning of that, but you get what I'm saying.
Ok, enough blithering about my rags to riches story, or really my story of rags to wine soaked rags, because let's be honest, there ain't no riches here! Today I want to tell you about one of my very favorite companies that has cropped up in the last year or so, a company called Love & Exile Wines
Love & Exile is an East Nashville based company started by Tyler Alkins, and a few other silent partners. I first met Tyler and heard his story when he walked into the shop that I work at to taste us on his wines and see if we wanted to start carrying them. His story is amazing and I'm sure I'm going to butcher it, so I'm just going to give you the abbreviated version and tell you to go in and talk to him yourself for the full story, but here are the essential bits of how this company came to be:
Tyler hails from Vancouver, BC but has lived in the states for several years. At a certain point the US said, (and I'm paraphrasing here) "Hey, time's up, get the hell out." Tyler, not wanting to get the hell out, figured out that he could stay if he started a business. (Insert montage of sleepless nights and Rocky esque jogs while Tyler thought this over.) Finally he had it. He loved wine, and was due to be exiled. A few calls, and some story boarding later, and boom, Love & Exile was born. Ok, cool story bro, but what is it? Good question, and here's where I really fell in love with the brand.
Love & Exile strives to bring wine to the people, and to take the stigma out of it. While they are based in Nashville, and do make a very small amount of wine themselves, their main focus is with partnering with various wine growers around the world, who produce the wine, and then ship it to Tyler and his team, who then bottle it and partner with local Nashville artists to do the labels! They currently work with growers in France, Chile, California, and Italy.
The whole company has an almost guerrilla feel to it. In a similar way to how Banksy took street art and elevated it, Tyler and his team are taking graffiti, concrete, and all things industrial and gritty, and infusing it with the prestige of world class fine wines.
From their labels, which are adorned with literal graffiti art, and images of women with tousled hair smoking cigarettes, to the very artwork on the walls of Nashville Urban Winery; their brick and mortar restaurant and bar that accompanies the retail side of the business.
As if Urban Wineries and Graffiti labels weren't enough, Love & Exile are also breaking into a trend that has started to sweep the nation. In addition to the standard glass bottles we've all grown to love and appreciate, they are also making the wine available in cans! Now you've heard me talk about drinking wine out of plastic cups, or coffee mugs, or doing whatever necessary to 'wine as you are,' and what better way to enjoy wine at a music festival, or the beach, or the pool, or while walking the dog, than out of a can!
So to sum it up, Love & Exile is exploding onto the scene with world class wines, and a 'no shits given' attitude to start the process of tearing down the walls of hoity-toity mentalities and holier than thou demeanors that have permeated the wine world for decades, AND I AM LOVING IT!
So head into your local wine shops and ask for any of Love & Exile's numerous products, or push to have your local shop bring them into your market. Help Tyler and his team grow by following them on Instagram and Facebook, and by telling the world about this company. If you happen to be a part of the lucky few to call yourselves Nashville locals, then head on into Nashville Urban Winery for a brick oven pizza, and a glass of kick ass wine. As always, wine as you are, and drink on!