Wine, Networks and Scales

Intermediation in the production, distribution and consumption of wine

by Stéphanie Lachaud-Martin (Volume editor) Corinne Marache (Volume editor) Julie McIntyre (Volume editor) Mikaël Pierre (Volume editor)
©2021 Edited Collection 222 Pages
Series: Business and Innovation, Volume 25


Wine as a product arises from human connections in know-how and trade as much as from the natural environment in which grapes are grown. At each stage of decision-making about growing grapes, making wine, selling and drinking it, people with different roles are networked together into systems of production and distribution. The authors in this collection offer new studies of the individuals and groups who act as connectors in these networked systems, intermediating in the delivery of wine from growers’ vines to consumers’ glasses. These actors operate at multi-layered scales of geography or within multiple regimes of governance, all the while taking account of arbitrations of quality and taste. This collection highlights how intermediators in many different wine countries and periods of history are, and have been, significant agents of continuity and change in the wine industry.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • Wine as an Instrument of Global History
  • Overview of Current PhD Theses in Wine Studies
  • Wine Merchants and Wine Producers in France in the 18th Century: Between Trust and Mistrust
  • Phylloxera Crisis and French-Australian Wine Rivalry on the British Market (1882-1914)
  • ‘Getting the Favour of the Public’ in the Nineteenth-Century Champagne Trade: How Important Was a ‘Smart Agent’?
  • Guardians of Trade Secrets: Brokers and Wine Distribution in the United Provinces in the 18th Century
  • A New Wine for the International Market: Italian Public Institutions’ Initiatives to Support the Oenological Sector (1870-1910)
  • Wine Cooperatives in Alsace: Standing Out at Any Cost for a Sale?
  • Intermediation and the Making of Cirò Marina Wine Markets in Calabria (Italy)
  • Fruits of Their Labour: Networks of Migration, Knowledge, and Work in the 19th Century Cape Wine Industry
  • Rhinefarm and the German-American Market for 19th-Century California Wine
  • The Hunter Valley: Historicising a Multi-Form Wine-World in the Grape-Wine-Complex
  • Conclusion
  • Series Index

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The globalisation of the wine trade since the 1990s has brought about wide-ranging changes in the perception of wine and purchasing and consumption practices depending on the people and the places being considered. In most major cities and in many parts of the world it is possible to buy and drink wine of any origin, sometimes made on the other side of the world. At the end of the 20th century, scientists specialising in wine and vines made available new kinds of knowledge and technologies for perfecting methods for cultivation, vinification and the transport of wine. These have revolutionised the age-old traditions of a product which had historically acquired a social and cultural position that was very particular and often imbued with luxury and prestige. This can be seen when studying the philosophy and the trade patterns of Europe in the past – when men of letters viewed the vineyards as symbols of beauty and civilisation and when wine was seen as nourishment, either sacred or dangerous according to how it was used – and in the present day. Since 2008 researchers in humanities and social sciences from different parts of the world have paid growing attention to the social and cultural meaning of wine according to the place and the people present. This field of research, which at first was reserved to certain disciplines such as anthropology, has grown over the past ten years to include all the humanities and social sciences in the English and French speaking worlds and beyond. This interest in studying vines and wine has led us to enquire into the links and the points of convergence between the different disciplines concerned by this topic, which is now known as Wine Studies. This research into wine is on the rise and in particular the studies on the production, commerce and consumption of wine constitute a particularly pertinent prism for understanding the new links being forged in a context ←9 | 10→of globalisation and for analysing the issues about the mobility of people, of objects and of ideas.

In this context, in 2013, historian Julie McIntyre and sociologist John Germov set up a network of research into Wine Studies at the University of Newcastle, in Australia. This initiative came in response to the clear absence of such a centre in the humanities and social sciences in comparison with research centres which serve the wine-producing industry and where work is based on wine sciences and on the wine economy. Economic and scientific research on wine is of interest to historians, sociologists, anthropologists, geographers, researchers in language studies and others who are not involved in the fields of economics and science. The Wine Studies Research Network also developed using epistemologies and methodologies that are different to those deployed by economists and scientists. The network members proposed the adoption of a critical analysis of the wine industry. They are interested in wine-producing areas as natural environments, in consumer politics and in the way in which the production, the trade and the consumption of wine define a social and cultural dimension as well as an economic value. They also analyse both the positive and the negative external factors in the relations between people and wine.

In 2016, the Wine Studies Research Network co-organised the first international conference on wine studies in the humanities and social sciences with the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies at King’s College in London. The meeting brought together over 30 researchers who, in particular, questioned the links between Wine Studies and Food Studies. Should Wine Studies be attached to these or should they develop their own lines of questioning, their own methods and their own literature? The conclusion of these discussions was that Wine Studies constitutes a historiographical field that is very specific and different from Food Studies1. This first scientific gathering resulted in two publications: a special edition of the review Global Food History, co-edited by Julie McIntyre and Jeffrey Pilcher, entitled “Worlds in a Wine Glass: Rethinking the Global and the Local”2. This series of articles showed that wine “has ←10 | 11→become one of the best examples illustrating the connections, symbioses and oppositions at work in the local-global dialectic of food”. This special number concerned history and French studies. Following on from collaborations set up during the London meeting, Jacqueline Dutton and Peter Howland co-edited Terroir and Utopia: Making New Worlds (2015)3. This collection brought together a larger number of researchers and presented a “multidisciplinary and intersectoral perspective” into the way that wine, terroir and utopia come together to “create new worlds, new wines, new links and new people”.

In 2018, Julie McIntyre and the Wine Studies Research Network became associated with Corinne Marache and Stéphanie Lachaud, from University Bordeaux-Montaigne, to co-organise the second international conference on wine in the humanities and social sciences, this time in France. As anywhere else, in France the world of wine is the focus of study which is at the meeting point of humanities and social sciences, historic periods and fields of analysis (social, cultural, economic or political)4. The vine and wine have been the subjects of famous studies which are already fairly old, such as the Histoire de la vigne et du vin en France, des origines au xixe siècle5 (History of the vine and wine in France from the origins to the 19th century) by Roger Dion in 1959, in which the author shows how towns, trading networks and demand-side economics have played a determining role in the birth, development, reputation or decline of vineyards. In this economic perspective, in 1975, Henri Enjalbert wrote a reflexive piece Histoire de la vigne et du vin: l’avènement de la qualité6, (History of the vine and wine: the arrival of quality) on the factors linked to the arrival of quality viticulture; and in 1988 Marcel Lachiver published Vins, vignes et vignerons. Histoire du vignoble français (Wines, vines and wine-producers. History of the French vineyard)7.

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In these analyses of the conditions giving rise to regional vineyards, the historic geography faculty in Bordeaux contributed to a better knowledge of local vineyards with the publication in 1975 of work carried out by Christian Huetz de Lemps on the geography of trade in Bordeaux at the time of Louis XIV8 or with monographs like that by René Pijassou on the Médoc in 19809.

Carried out over the long-term, these different works reveal the workings of economic intermediation in the world of wine: by the family owners, the actors in the wine trade, the vitivinicole professionals. Following this first generation of geographers, Philippe Roudié renewed geography studies and the history of the vine and wine with an analysis of the land-owning, social and economic forces at work in the Bordeaux vineyard in 197310 and then in research started in the CERVIN (Centre d’études et de recherches sur la vigne et le vin/ Centre for study and research on vines and wine) in 198811. More recently, the work done by Raphaël Schirmer has helped to continue and to renew wine geography, particularly in the fields of globalisation, in wine consumption and its place in our societies. The Atlas of the Bordeaux Vineyard which he edited and which should be published shortly is a major contribution to social science studies on wine.

The work done by Bordeaux historians has also helped to complete this research, particularly studies by Paul Butel on Bordeaux wine merchants in 197312, and more recently research by Sandrine Lavaud13, Marguerite Figeac-Monthus14, Stéphanie ←12 | 13→Lachaud15 and Hubert Bonin16. Research into wine is therefore dynamic and well established in this university. Another example is a specific collection “Grappes et Millésimes”, published by the Bordeaux university press and devoted to publications on vines and wine in which much research is published, such as the work of Sylvaine Fassier-Boulanger17 or Raphaël Schirmer18 on Jura wines and on Muscadet.

This research in Bordeaux, at least as far as recent publications are concerned, belongs to the revival of French historiography into themes about wine and vine terroir and territories, with research being carried out in various French vineyards, such as Champagne by Benoît Musset19, the Languedoc by Geneviève Gavignaud-Fontaine and Gilbert Larguier20, Cognac21 and Bourgogne (Burgundy)22. With this in mind, the economic dynamics have been carefully studied by Anne Wegener Sleeswijk for her work on the market for French wines in the United Provinces in the 18th century23 and by Stéphane Le Bras and his thesis on the wine ←13 | 14→trading world in the Hérault department in the 20th century24. In 2011, also a book was published, edited by Serge Wolikow and Olivier Jacquet, on wine terroirs from the 18th to the 21st century which are seen as territories produced by a historic construction25. We should also note the work by Stéphane Le Bras into small vineyards26. What all these studies have in common is to imagine the vineyards as a production system with different actors whose level of involvement appears more or less in detail. Several recent colloquia held in Bordeaux defined the foundations for the thinking that was showcased in the Bordeaux Wine Studies symposia L’Univers du vin in 201227, La construction de la grande propriété viticole en France et en Europe in 201328 and Ville et vin in 201729. These different events focussed each time on different networks in the production, marketing and promotion of wine, whether these be owners, workers, investors, merchants, institution, brokers, retail sellers, consumers, etc.

Seeing the importance of Wine Studies in France and the rather particular implication of Bordeaux historians and geographers on these topics, it was therefore quite timely to pursue this historiographic revival with an international conference at University Bordeaux Montaigne. The aim of this new scientific meeting lay in a diachronic approach aimed at showing the interlocking of the different scales present in “the world of wine”, such as the multi-form networks which cross over and interfere in this environment, from production to consumption. The objective was to study the actors in these networks who, down the years, have been obliged to adapt to local, national and international pressures, ←14 | 15→perspectives and constraints whether these be legal, normative, economic, commercial, social or cultural. The main themes tackled therefore bear on the regulation and the control of wine production, the role of distributors and the different commercial players in the circulation of wine products, the transfer and transmission of knowledge and knowhow in the production and marketing of wine, and taking into account consumer expectations according to the type, the quality and the areas where the wine is commercialised.

These lines of questioning have their place in the studies into links between rural production and urban spaces, which have been studied in depth at University Bordeaux Montaigne by Corinne Marache and Philippe Meyzie, during the regional programme Vivalter (2012-2016), “La ville, espace de valorisation des produits du terroir du XVIe siècle à nos jours” (The Town, a space for the appreciation of terroir products from the 16th century to the present day) which was recently published under the title Les produits de terroir. L’empreinte de la ville (Terroir products. The mark of the town), in 201530. The town figures clearly as much as a space as it is an instrument in the valorisation on different scales of agricultural products, by insisting on the play between actors who are complementary. This research programme has been extended by the current programme TERESMA (Produits des terroirs, espaces et marchés/ Products of terroirs, spaces and markets)31, also co-directed by Corinne Marache and Philippe Meyzie, and it is particularly interested in the actors, the networks and the mechanisms at work in the production, processing, distribution and consumption of products from the terroirs, in the dissemination of know-how, reputation, distinction, etc. How do they get to be known beyond their home terroir, what are their links and how do they fit into the economy of their place of production? Another regional programme, headed by Stéphanie Lachaud, focusses on sweet wines in Aquitaine and particularly on the actors who, at different levels and at different times in the production, processing and distribution of these wines, have contributed to the enhancement of techniques, of reputation and of the specialisation of these terroirs. It is for this reason that the regional programmes TERESMA and Liquoreux d’Aquitaine ←15 | 16→(hosted by the research team CEMMC (Centre d’Études des Mondes Moderne et Contemporain/ Centre for the study of the modern and contemporary worlds) have supported this second meeting of the Wine Studies Research Network.

In fact, this idea of terroir today constitutes a kind of semantic commonplace, used widely in marketing and communication centred on products and on wine in particular, but where the transposition to other places and other languages poses some difficulties. Recently, in November 2017 for the French version and two years earlier in English, Thomas Parker published an essay on the concept of terroir, showing that it is well and truly a French idea, a sort of cultural mythology and according to him it developed between the Renaissance and the French Revolution32. However, the topic of this book is the role of man in the production and marketing of wine. Thomas Parker’s remark is all the more interesting since it shows that research into the history of wine is not divided into two, between the “old” and the “new” worlds of wine: on the contrary, a good deal of research is currently focussing on the influences, complementarities and common issues. One example is the thesis by Guyonne Blanchy who has shown how the Mendoza vineyard in Argentina has benefitted from input from the Bordeaux vitivinicole model and from human and economic networks between Europe and South America. Another case is the thesis recently submitted by Mikaël Pierre on the vitivinicole exchanges between France and Australia in the 19th century.

This book therefore proposes an original synthesis on the topic of economic intermediation. In fact, while this theme has already been tackled at other levels of analysis, such as the world of brokerage (with a colloquium organised by Vincent Demon, Matthieu Scherman and Anne Wegener Sleeswijk33, articles34 on work carried out on the consuls in the ←16 | 17→Mediterranean35), it has never been broached through the lens of the vitivinicole world. The comparatist, pluridisciplinary and international dimensions of the views expressed here are thus somewhat new, especially with the perspective over the long-term (17th-21st centuries). The articles brought together here first examine the question of the development and adaptation of markets, concentrating on the merchants, the agents and other prescribers of purchases and taste. Several following articles analyse the role of public and private intermediaries (brokers, cooperatives…) in the production, marketing and consumption of wine. Finally, there are some thoughts on the networks woven in the world of wine, on the consequences and influences of migrants and migration in the vitivinicole world or even the links which exist between wine and identity, and these will throw fresh light on the field of Wine Studies, which is still undergoing extensive revision. The selection of the countries studied in this book is not the result of an editorial choice, but of papers we received for the symposium from which it came out. Nevertheless, the areas investigated in Europe (France, Italy, Great Britain, United Provinces), the United States, Australia and South Africa prove to be meaningful. They show the diversity of the vine and wine territories and reveal their specificities, their similarities, their links and their respective influences, in terms of wine production, distribution and consumption.

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1 McIntyre J., “Wine Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences: A Report on Symposia and the State of the Field”, Journal of Wine Research, vol. 28, no. 2, p. 159-164.

2 McIntyre J., “Worlds in a Wine Glass: Rethinking the Global and the Local”, Global Food History vol. 5, n°qui1–2, 26 février 2019, p. 1-4.

3 Dutton J. and Howland P. J. (eds.), Wine, Terroir and Utopia: Making New Worlds, London, Routledge, 2019.

4 Argot-Dutard F., Charvet P. and Lavaud S. (eds.), Voyage aux pays du vin: des origines à nos jours. Histoire, anthologie, dictionnaire, Paris, Robert Laffont, 2007; Garrier G., Histoire sociale et culturelle du vin. Les mots de la vigne et du vin, Paris, Larousse, 1995.

5 Dion R., Histoire de la vigne et du vin en France, des origines au XIXe siècle, Paris, Flammarion, 1959.

6 Enjalbert H., “Comment naissent les grands crus de bordeaux, porto, cognac ?”, Annales Économies, Sociétés, Civilisations, n°3 and 4, octobre-décembre 1953; Histoire de la vigne et du vin: l’avènement de la qualité, Paris, Bordas, 1975.


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2021 (January)
Bruxelles, Berlin, Bern, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2021. 222 pp., 3 fig. col, 17 fig. b/w, 2 tables.

Biographical notes

Stéphanie Lachaud-Martin (Volume editor) Corinne Marache (Volume editor) Julie McIntyre (Volume editor) Mikaël Pierre (Volume editor)

Mikaël Pierre holds a PhD in history from the University of Newcastle, Australia and University Bordeaux Montaigne. He focuses his research on wine history and transnational connections. He has published several works on the wine trade in Bordeaux and French-Australian transfers. Julie McIntyre is a senior lecturer in Australian history at the University of Newcastle. She has published widely on wine, as recognised with honours including an International Organisation of Vine and Wine: OIV Jury "Special Mention for History" and a Fulbright Scholarship to University of California (Davis). Corinne Marache is professor of contemporary history at University Bordeaux Montaigne. Specialist in societies and rural areas, she devotes part of her research to terroirs and local products. She has published, in particular, with S. Lachaud and B. Bodinier, Men, Landscapes and Territories of Wine (2014). Stéphanie Lachaud-Martin is a lecturer in modern history at the University Bordeaux Montaigne. She is specialist in rural and wine history of the 17th and 18th centuries in France, after a doctorate on the Sauternes vineyard and the direction of several books on the wine world.


Title: Wine, Networks and Scales
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224 pages