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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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Fruits of Their Labour: Networks of Migration, Knowledge, and Work in the 19th Century Cape Wine Industry



When the British Empire took control of the Cape of Good Hope at the beginning of the 19th century, they inherited a nearly 150-year-old wine industry, one predicated upon a powerful Boer gentry and subjugated slave labour force. The Cape was a strategic chokepoint en route to Asian markets, offering a potential trade post and naval rest station. The colony also possessed advantageous opportunities for commodity export during a time when, as remembered by Mr. H. Cloete in 1831:

England was marked with the most eventful crisis that any country ever exhibited; when every part of the Continent was closed to her trade, and the English palate was fast losing all recollection of Claret…and other standard wines of the British Tables, and the Vineyards of Spain and Portugal were destroyed by the horrors of war; it was then that the eyes of the British Government were first directed to this Colony as likely to supply that loss1…

In 1795, Great Britain attempted to take control of the Cape as “part of their general campaign to secure their hegemony over the world’s seas in the course of their war with revolutionary France”2. The demand for ←165 | 166→Cape wine even markedly increased between 1778 and 18153. While the British Empire encouraged wine growing in its other colonies as a method of socio-cultural improvement4, the Cape Colony inherited in 1806 had been growing and producing wine for years. Dutch surgeon Jan van...

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