Alice Feiring: A Natural Provacateur

Here at the Napa Valley Wine Academy, we are firm believers in the idea that when it comes to wine, diversifying your interests and knocking down barriers to curiosity leads to more informed opinions–it also leads to great discoveries. We recently spoke with one such author and journalist who is righteously opinionated and a generous resource of great wine discoveries–she will be familiar to many of you, and for others, a new and exciting voice to follow.

Meet Alice Feiring, author, journalist and stalwart proponent of natural wines.

Alice Feiring, author, journalist and publisher of The Feiring Line Newsletter. Photo by Andrew French.
Alice Feiring, author, journalist and publisher of The Feiring Line Newsletter. Photo by Andrew French.

Alice is a tried and true New Yorker who authors The Feiring Line blog and produces The Feiring Line Newsletter, a “natural wine publication,” that is released eight times per year. Feiring has authored two books: The Battle for Wine and Love: or How I Saved the World from Parkerization (2008) and Naked Wine (2011). She will be releasing a new book on Georgia’s wine renaissance in early 2016. Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal Magazine, Time, The New York Times, Town & Country, Wine & Spirits, World of Fine Wine and Newsweek.

Feiring’s in-depth interviews and commentary on the natural wine scene are incredibly passionate and expertly informed, but also soulful and energetic–they read as if Alice is sitting next to you, confiding in you as a close friend the secrets she’s uncovered in her vigilant journeying–both domestic and abroad. Largely, her writing offers keen glimpses into a world where winemakers (many are French vignerons) are regulars at the dinner table and conversations run the gambit of emotions. We’re particularly fond of her wine reviews, made available to those who subscribe to The Feiring Line Newsletter, where label shots are clear and in abundance, and also because Feiring’s recommendations are fun to read as well as helpful. Her “reviews” include symbols that indicate: “cool stuff,” “for geeks,” “heartthrob” and directions like, “lay down,” as well as details on the Importer of each wine, which is great information to have when attempting to track down on- and off-premise locations where the wines are carried.

NVWA: You have often described your education in wine as “wholly alternative” and your foray into wine writing as “accidental” — but was there a catalyst or series of catalysts that set you on the path to writing about wine? 

Alice Feiring: At the beginning it was just because I could. I was writing fiction and plays and needed to see my byline as those avenues are such crapshoots. I slipped into wine as a graduate student and found myself relatively obsessed with it. But it was after writing Food and Wine’s Official Wine Guide in 2001 when it all came together. Immersed in such intense tasting I realized the world of wine had changed. From my perspective, it was turning into dreck, quickly evolving into one commercial, market-driven plonk no matter what the price. Then when I walked into the arena of wine technology and how much can be done to shape flavor and texture artificially, that’s when I truly started to learn about and write about wine with a very different passion and purpose.

NVWA: Have you always been the torch-bearer of “natural” wines? Are you a deconstructionist at heart when it comes to modern wine production?

AF: When I wrote “The Battle,” there’s barely the word natural in there. I was just on the search for a wine that was truly the extension of place and history. I suppose you could say I was a deconstructionist–both in philosophical and literal terms. But I would have to add the world fabricated after the modern for that to be completely accurate, all modern wines are not fabricated. I prefer to look it at as paper bag dramatics. Inside the bag is land, vine, human and vessels. Now, go out and do the best you can.

NVWA: Do you think American wine drinkers are generally more educated than they were in previous years? With respect to “natural” wines, how has that education come along? Is there still a gap?

AF: In years past the American wine drinker who was educated usually had a lot of dough. Wine knowledge is now spread among those on a budget and those with major collections. The knowledge is more democratic for sure. And it’s also in evolution. Because of so many people leaving appellations, whether in France or Italy, and we now have so many lovely wines in Vin de France or Vino Tavola, because Grand Cru and 1er Cru Burgundy’s are so pricey, there’s a growth in a different kind of knowledge. For the past twenty years knowledge for most people didn’t go beyond a grape. Now we’re more producer and terroir driven. By all means the growth in interest in natural wine has powered this.

NVWA: You’ve met, interviewed, spent countless hours with winemakers around the world, and certainly in France — from your standpoint, what are the traits or beliefs that truly great winemakers possess? That they collectively share?

AF: Interesting question. First of all, as in any field, they can do the best work in the vineyard but they must have talent once the grapes come off the vine. Sensitivity, the ability to watch and listen, and a keen knowledge of how to keep grape juice from spoiling.

Follow Alice, sign up for her newsletter and learn more here:


A snapshot of “The Feiring Line” Newsletter:




Cancellations of confirmed in-person course enrollments and workshops are accepted up to 60 days before the start of the course. An administration fee of $50 plus the full cost of the study materials and exam fees will be deducted, and the remainder of the course fee refunded to the payee. Separate WSET exam cancellation/transfer rules apply.
Transfers of a confirmed enrollment to another course are accepted 60 days before the course start date with an administration fee of $50.

Cancellations less than 60 days before the in-person course start date or course no shows forfeit any refund/transfer options unless students can provide medical documentation. If medical documentation is provided, students can be transferred to a later course. No refunds will be applied.

Course Transfers cannot be carried forward to the next academic year (which commenced on January 1).

Students are highly encouraged to purchase separate travel insurance.

You've got this!

Flamingo Hotel Las Vegas

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

February 12, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Pacific)


3555 Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas, NV 89109


You've got this!

Mariott Santa Ynez

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

April 23, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Pacific)


555 McMurray Road

Buelton, CA 93427


You've got this!

Art Hotel Denver

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

March 5, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Mountain)


1201 Broadway

Denver, CO 80203


You've got this!

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

February 12, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Central)


1719 West End Ave.

Nashville, TN 37203


You've got this!

Epicurean Hotel

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

March 19, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Eastern)


1207 S Howard Ave,

Tampa, FL 33606


You've got this!

Street View of HQ

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

January 22, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Pacific)


2501 Oak Street

Napa, CA 94559