Border Wines: Terroir across Contested Territory
Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies, 2017, 17(4), 127-140.
University of California Press
Etymologically related, the concepts of terroir and territoriality display divergent cultural histories. While one designates the palatable characteristics of place as a branded story of geographic distinction (goût de terroir), the other imbues the soil with political meaning, defendable boundaries, and collective entitlement. This research traces the production of eno-locality in contested spaces across political borders. Tracing the ascent of terroir as an organizing principle for the global wine culture and food industry, I examine the intersection of political geography, national identity, and cultural locality in the production of edible authenticity. Border wine regions such as Tokaj between Hungary and Slovakia, the Judean Hills and South Mount Hebron in Israel and Palestine, and the former Cold War buffer zone between Bulgaria and Greece illustrate the articulation of terroir as a story of border-crossing. Beyond the essentialization of terroir as “nature” and the contested politics of territory, I identify three formations of the terroir-territory connection: (a) territorialization of terroir, (b) terroir-ization of territory, and (c) colonial terroir expansion. In the case of “border wines” indexical strategies of boundary- and terroir-making highlight the creative agency and semiotic manipulation of winemakers across political territories.