The source of all wine grapes

The new Wine Grapes book by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and José Vouillamoz is now weighing down my book shelf, or more often grappling for space on my desk or dining room table. However, I have resisted taking this heavy tome on the plane to Turkey where I have come in advance of EWBC 2012. One theory expounded on in this new, important book is that the first grapevine domestication anywhere in the world was in southern Anatolia and excitingly, this region is on my agenda.

The impetus for going to Turkey is that this year’s EWBC, no longer the European wine bloggers conference, but rightly and more appropriately re-named the Digital Wine Communications Conference is taking place in Izmir on the 9 -11 November. It is a fabulous opportunity to meet, chat and share a glass with wine producers, trade, communicators, techies and enthusiasts from all over Europe and beyond. This year there will be people present from more than 35 countries.

Each year the conference is given a theme, and this year that theme is ‘Source’ to reflect just this fact that there is evidence that Turkey is the source of the original wine grape vine. Yet the theme has relevance also for wine communicators as we need to become sources of excellent information on wine, rather than simply sharing the information of others through the many social networks now available to us.

Where Wine, Travel and Food meet
I have agreed to moderate a communications workshop on the subject of putting wine, travel and food in context so as to become an inspiring and authoritative source of information. Quite a daunting task in less than an hour, but I have a strong team supporting me on the panel as follows:

  • Su Birch has been the CEO of Wines of South Africa (WOSA), the exporting voice for South Africa, for over a decade. She is at the cutting edge seeing how producers communicate with journalists and bloggers in a country renowned for its fine wine tourism offering.
  • Wendy Crispell from New York is a wine and food educator, a former restaurateur and an artisanal cheese specialist. A post from her food and wine blog was short-listed for last year’s Born Digital Wine Awards Wine Tourism category.
  • Per Karlsson is Swedish, but based in Paris and with his wife Brit runs BKWine Tours, an award-winning wine tour company running tours in Swedish and English to regions in Europe and the New World. He has also gained recognition for his wine books and his photography.
  • Paola Tich was trained as a journalist and today has her own communications consultancy in London. She has long been a fan of wine, food and travel, and currently is studying for the WSET Diploma qualification. She has a wine blog that includes a healthy dose of food and travel.

The five of us will explore various aspects of the ways to communicate on wine incorporating food and travel themes, and discuss what is best received by the wine consumer. We are hoping for a good audience mix to debate the subject and add to our own views.

Wine Grapes book

The US cover, the UK cover is beige cloth-backed

The new resource on grapes
Whereas the traditional European attitude has always been that terroir or the place that vines grow is the key to the wine, to me the multitude of grape varieties available to plant and then make into wine has always been at least as important as the ‘terroir signature’ of the wine. There have been books on grapes before, but we were badly in need of a bang up-to-date properly researched book, and we indeed have it in the new Wine Grapes book, subtitled “A complete guide to 1,368 vine varieties, including their origins and flavours”. To me it is already indispensable.

Having only just received my copy I haven’t read all the introductory pages yet, but the chapter covering the ‘Historical Perspective’ mentions Dr Patrick McGovern, an ‘oeno-archeologist’ who will be speaking on a panel at EWBC with one of the authors of the book, José Vouillamoz, a biologist and specialist in DNA testing of grape varieties. It promises to be a fascinating session. After the conference out of the choice of ‘post-trips’ offered I chose to go to Elazig in eastern Anatolia, close to the source of where wine may have first been made. I’m excited by the prospect.

In the meantime, I will be missing having the Wine Grapes book within my reach in Turkey, a country with a plethora of grape varieties I’ve never heard of, mostly impossible to spell and pronounce, but some producing very promising wines. I can already see that this big fat book is a fabulous resource and essential for all serious wine lovers to own. A digital version is promised for next spring, but the book itself has to be worth having for the gorgeous old colour prints of many classic and ‘founder’ grape varieties including some of my pet favourites from Jura and Savoie.

Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson MW, Julia Harding MW and José Vouillamoz is available to buy with a limited special offer on Jancis’ site or for a similar price you can purchase via my Amazon UK or Amazon US stores (when I will eventually receive a few pennies).

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2 thoughts on “The source of all wine grapes

  1. andrew

    The guide is on my Christmas list; but seeing as its a tad pricey I’ll probably end up buying it myself!

    Looking forward excitedly to ewbc. So much to see and explore