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Type: Theses
Title: Fermenting place: wine production and terroir in McLaren Vale, South Australia
Author: Skinner, William Watson
Issue Date: 2015
School/Discipline: School of Social Sciences
Abstract: This thesis provides an ethnographic exploration of McLaren Vale, a wine-producing region lying just south of the city of Adelaide, South Australia. As a near-urban agricultural area, McLaren Vale provides the setting for a number of complex debates about land use, landscape values, cultural heritage and regional identity. Contemporary perspectives on dwelling, place, and landscape contribute to the theoretical background of this study. In particular, this thesis is framed by notions of ‘terroir’, a term common in winegrowing and used to refer to the ‘sense of place’ that may be tasted in wine from particular locations. I contend that the particular terroir perspective taken by winegrowers in McLaren Vale is shaped by a globalised wine industry discourse as well as the locally-specific experiences of farming and winemaking in the region. Discourses of terroir describe the ways people and landscape, nature and culture, interrelate to produce geographically and socially-emplaced products. As an anthropological concept, terroir might also be used to explicate the ways by which the processes of production serve not only to produce agricultural products, but places and persons themselves. Terroir is significant not only in the way it is deployed discursively but as a tacit dimension of winegrowing and, indeed, being. In the body of the thesis I explore different aspects of McLaren Vale’s terroir, encompassing local as well as broader regional and global processes, and focusing on the way these are embodied by and in people and places. The six substantive chapters deal with the historical and political-economic construction of McLaren Vale as a region; understandings of ‘locality’ and being local entails; terroir as it is expressed in winegrowing; the significance of temporality and rhythm; the role of embodied, sensorial engagement in placemaking; and the relationship of ‘city’ and ‘country’ in the imagining of McLaren Vale and its boundaries. Dominant approaches to terroir in McLaren Vale are relational and processual, emphasising an ongoing dynamism of relations between people, landscape, and production, and that this is the way many people understand, experience and represent their own dwelling. This perspective encourages a view of McLaren Vale as a ‘living landscape’ imbued not only with productive power but productive potential, in which people, vines, animals, soil, microbes, and a host of other beings are mutually implicated. This, I argue, is reflected not only in regional wine production, but also in the orientations local people take to broader issues relating to landscape and land use.
Advisor: Dundon, Alison Joy
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Social Sciences, 2015.
Keywords: wine
South Australia
McLaren Vale
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
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