Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
Anthropologists working on wine are confronted with the notion of tradition which is regularly mobilised by different actors (Barham, 2003; Bérard & Marchenay, 1995, 2006; Ceisel, 2013; Demossier, 2010; Gade, 2004; Sternsdorff Cisterna, 2013; Pratt, 1994; Trubek, 2008; Ulin, 1996, 2013). Wine is a product which has an identity linked to its place of origin, which rest on two main constituents: “terroir” and the human and historic specificity of wine production conceived as “tradition”. Wine traditions are, of course, idealised and are usually mobilised, consciously and unconsciously, to create frontiers and discontinuity between undifferentiated products. At the same time, “New world” wine regions have difficulty defining their identity as wine-producing region, especially regarding the definition of their tradition.
Although tradition is a construction of the past in the present, instead of a random and fortuitous collection of old ways, I believe that in the case of wine, it is possible to understand tradition in a materialistic view and to define it as the ways a specific production has been historically organised. In that perspective, many aspects, which are seen as composing tradition, actually stem from the opportunities and constraints (political, economical and geographical) that have oriented the development of a particular production in a specific place. In this presentation, I will demonstrate this point through a comparison of two wine production contexts where I have conducted extensive fieldwork: Cirò Marina in Calabria (Italy) and the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia (Canada).