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Wine, Networks and Scales

Intermediation in the production, distribution and consumption of wine


Edited By Stéphanie Lachaud-Martin, Corinne Marache, Julie McIntyre and Mikaël Pierre

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.

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Wine Cooperatives in Alsace: Standing Out at Any Cost for a Sale?



The Alsace vineyards are known for their varietal wines which is an exception in France: this situation is both a strength and a weakness for Alsace winegrowers. It is a strength because reference to the grape varietal is known all over the world and it makes sense for international buyers just like any allusion to the colour of the wine. But this can also be a weak point, in particular for Rieslings, because competition with German wines is very strong: some producers therefore feel that their wines would be better valued with references to the terroir. On the national market, varietal wines are a weakness in a country where reference to the locality, to the agronomic terroir where it is produced and to know-how is, to follow Jean-Claude Hinnewinkel speaking of agronomy and the socio-terroir1, a crucial element for the consumer.

For twenty years, the actors in the Alsace vineyards have been improving the quality of their wines thanks to more rigorous work in the vines and in the cellar, and they have been looking, in a rather dispersed manner, to valorise the localities in an effort to stand out individually in this wine-producing area of over 15,000 hectares. Among these actors are wine cooperatives or cooperative wineries. According to the Comité Interprofessionnel des Vins d’Alsace (CIVA), in 2015, 41 % of Alsace wines were marketed by 11 wine cooperatives (known as SICAs – société d’intérêt collectif agricole2) who vinify their...

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