Upcoming talks – November 2013


“The Artification of Wine: Words that transform grapes into art”

2:30pm, Nov. 14, 2013, “Cuisine, artification par les arts?”, Centre d’archives de Montréal de Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, Canada , Nov. 13 & 14, 2013

“Preserving a taste landscape: the cultural heritage of wine in Carema, Italy”

10:45am, Nov. 23, 2013,  “Edible Identities: Exploring Food and Foodways as Cultural Heritage, Part 2”, International Ballroom North- Access through Lobby Level (Chicago Hilton), American Anthropological Association Meeting, Chicago, Nov. 20-24, 2013.



Wine and Culture: Vineyard to Glass


Wine and Culture: Vineyard to Glass (Bloomsbury Academic, 2013), the book that I co-edited with Robert C. Ulin, is now available on-line and in bookstores. Many thanks to all of our wonderful contributors and to Fulvio Silvestri for the wonderful cover images.

“This collection is a heady investigation of wine as a sociocultural and historical commodity in diverse global sites. Fifteen engaging articles show how the ethnographic study of wine penetrates beyond the bottle to reveal labor relations, power structures, market forces, and deeply held meanings about identity and place.” – Carole Counihan, author of ‘Around the Tuscan Table: Food, Family and Gender in Twentieth Century Florence’ and editor-in-chief of ‘Food and Foodways’

“This collection represents the first of its kind to focus on wine from a sociocultural perspective while bringing together current approaches to questions of identity, culture, authenticity, craft and technology, and the senses. Like terroir itself, this collection roots the taste of wine in places, in the history and emergence of new landscapes of tastes, and the changing social and environmental relations of its production, dissemination and consumption. Uncork it for yourself and see!” – David Sutton, Professor of Anthropology, Southern Illinois University, USA

“Given its global, economic, social and cultural importance, it’s astonishing that the anthropology of wine has been so neglected for so long. This splendid collection of incisive essays goes a long way towards establishing key issues in this emerging field, many of which are also relevant to contemporary anthropology in general.” –  Jeremy MacClancy, Professor of Social Anthropoology, Dept of Social Sciences, Oxford Brookes University, uk

Read more about Wine and Culture here…

A Summer in the Field

Silvio reached up and pulled down a curled up leaf from one of his vines. He unfurled the leaf to reveal the larva of a leafroller (Platynota  stultana). Pests like this, he explained, could do serious damage to a vineyard. He named off the various fungal diseases he regularly has to combat as the grape growing season progresses. Winegrowing was starting to seem more like chemical warfare than some bucolic agricultural activity. Walking through the steep vineyards of Donnas on a warm June day, I learned a great deal about vineyard management, changing traditions, and one man’s reality as he worked amongst the vines—all things that are difficult to learn from only reading books …

Read more on the Gastronomy at BU blog.

Wine Memory

Both taste and smell are such fleeting experiences but in the case of winemaking, they must be assigned to memory and attached to physical processes. What can this example of taste memory in winemaking tell us about the role of smell, taste and memory in the production of other artisanal beverages and foodstuffs? Read more in my recent article on Sensate.

Mountains of wine: Fieldwork in Carema and Donnas

Some of the most fascinating Italian wines (Carema DOC and Donnas DOC) are made at the base of the Alps. Despite a reputation for producing renowned Nebbiolo wines for the past several centuries,  the current culture and economy of wine production in the area face some extreme challenges.

I am in Italy this summer studying grape growing and wine production in the lower Aosta Valley and Carema area of Piedmont. These wine regions have unique challenges such as steep terrain, high production costs and small vineyard parcels. Major changes in the local economy have also played a role in changing viticultural traditions. In the nineteenth century, the economy of this area was mainly based on agricultural–grapes were the most important crop. At the end of that century, heavy industry and manufacturing drew farm labor away from the land. By the middle of the twentieth century the local steel industry was in crisis. Finally at the turn of the last century manufacturing, largely represented by Olivetti, also collapsed. In the past twenty years, there has been a lot of out-migration from this area, and now there are few young people who want to learn about tending vines and making wine. The future of wine in these two towns seems uncertain.

Although Donnas and Carema share many of the same challenges, their traditions and outlook on the future are surprisingly different. My work aims to look at the impact of economic and political changes on local viticultural traditions and the resilience of living cultural heritage in these two towns.