If you could enjoy the grape harvest of any wine region, or of any wine, in the world - where would it be?
The key to understanding any wine is to understand where it comes from - the people, the place, the conditions and the traditions, and there is no better time to get to grips with the ‘terroir’ than when the grapes are being harvested. This is my ethos behind Around the World in 80 Harvests which is live on Kickstarter now.
Over the next two years I plan to visit 80 wine regions around the world, and bring each one to life as I document them at harvest time, through videos, photography, articles and travel guides. More than just a beautiful book and magazine on wine harvests though, 80 Harvests is an interactive journey for the reader to participate in via live interviews, video streams and webinars. I’ll be meeting top winemakers, agronomists and experts in each region and together we’ll be creating a giant hub of information so that everyone can feel more connected to their wine that they are drinking, and the people and place that makes it.
When I started to plan this global wine adventure last year, I contacted lots of different wine drinkers and wine experts to see where they would go.
“The region that would repay visit after visit for me is Piedmont,” says Steven Spurrier, the British wine expert renowned for organising the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 (as depicted in the movie Bottle Shock). “I can only really begin to understand the Nebbiolo grape in its place of origin, accompanied by the incomparable local dishes.”
The Piedmont was also the top pick of wine writer Jancis Robinson, and many winemakers I spoke to. Further north in the Old World is the region that took Canadian wine writer Tony Aspler’s interest: "It would be easy to pick Burgundy whose wines I love… But the region I most enjoy visiting is Penedès, not only for the range of quality wines produced there at affordable prices, but for the local cuisine and the warmth of the welcome.”
As well as great classics on the wine route, like the Old World countries of France, Italy and Spain, and the great New World wine regions in the US, New Zealand and Argentina, 80 Harvests will be incorporating some of the lesser known wine regions around the globe including ‘new latitude’ regions in India, Thailand, northern Europe, and Africa. In my interviews some other wine experts cited the road less travelled as the most interesting that they would like to see:
"Rostov-on-Don in Russia, where my friends Max and Valéry Troychuk at Vedernikov winery do cultivate three indigenous wine grape varieties that are grown nowhere else: Krasnostop Zolotovskiy, Tsimlyanskiy Cherniy and Sibirkoviy,” says José Vouillamoz, renowned grape geneticist and co-author of Wine Grapes. “I have carried out DNA profiling analyses on their samples and they turned out to be unique in the world. Their vineyards are grown under the harsh Russian climate and they need to bury the vines every winter, and then unbury them every spring. It's a huge task and I would like to witness it!”
It’s the Canary Islands that have an exotic pull for Vinography wine blogger Alder Yarrow: “This volcanic archipelago off the northwest corner of Africa has an otherworldly feel, with uninterrupted expanses of black lava fields pockmarked by small depressions carved out to hold individual vines close to the soil and away from the punishing winds. The wines are as unusual as the place, and as a connoisseur of the strange and exotic elements of the wine world, I’ve long wanted to pay a visit.”
The Grape Collective’s own Editor Christopher Barnes is also more of a fan of the offbeat: “I personally am interested in the more oddball wine regions where there is a political or social story connected to the wine story. Turkey was very cool, crazy political situation, interesting native grapes and some serious marketing challenges.”
Whether you want to see the unorthodox and oddball regions in the world, or be able to unlock the great classics, I hope that you can join me in Around the World in 80 Harvests so that we can open up a world of wine harvests and share the people and places of each region.
You can find out more about the project and back the Kickstarter here, and in the meantime, please share your favourite wine region in the world to visit!