On April 16th -18th in New Orleans, more than 50 of the nation's top sommeliers will be on hand to pour some of the world's most sought after wines at the Independent Champagne and Sparkling Wine Invitational (ICSWI), the nation's first ever conference devoted exclusively to independently produced champagnes and sparkling wines. Industry experts will educate attendees, pouring wines produced in the grower and independent spirit ranging from the superb high-end cuvées of the Grande Marques to the terroir-driven jewels of the small producers. ICSWI sommeliers will represent cities and regions from across the nation, with restaurant representation including Per Se, The French Laundry, NYC's Eleven Madison Park, Aspen's The Little Nell, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns. All have broad wine industry experience including winemaking, retail, restaurant management and buying for private collectors.
Today, there are over 19,000 independent growers in the Champagne region, accounting for nearly 88% of all vineyard land in the region, with around 5,000 of these growers producing wine from their own grapes. These "fizz farmers" if you will are master artisans, controlling what happens on their farm every day unlike at some of the more large-scale industrial operations at the corporate labels. Worldwide, independent Sparkling Wine production includes Cava in Spain, Asti and Prosecco in Italy, Cap Classique in South Africa, Sekt in Germany and the sparkling wines of California. All together, there are thousands of champagne and sparkling wines to chose from, making the grower category ideal for authenticity, quality, value and ultimately choice. Smaller vineyards allow more site specific wines to be created for a truer reflection of terroir, and their extraordinary attention to detail is reflected in each grower's unique product.
Gallery: Independent Champagne