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globeA couple weeks ago, there was a symposium in New York entitled “Borderless Wine”, featuring speakers addressing the importance of supporting winemaking in emerging and underdeveloped wine regions.

According to host Peter Weltman,

At its base, Borderless Wine is about being adventurous and open-minded as to where great wine comes from.

This is a great cause that deserves our support. There is no reason to think the classic wine regions are the only places on the planet that can support quality wine. And having a vibrant wine culture can do wonders to help communities support themselves. But why did they call it “borderless wine”? There is nothing more important to wine than borders. The great wines of Burgundy are great because they taste like Burgundy and no one can quite duplicate those flavors. Quality wine exhibits a sense of place, “somewhereness” as Matt Kramer called it. It is this sense of place, with well defined borders that these emerging regions will have to develop if they want their product to be distinctive.

We already have too much “borderless wine” in the world. “Borderless wine” is bulk wine from grapes grown in Central Spain, shipped off to Southern France to be bottled, and then shipped to the U.S. where someone with a marketing plan slaps a private label on it and sells it to their clientele. It’s an important part of the wine market but there isn’t anything virtuous about it.

This of course is not what Peter Weltman means by “borderless wine” but that is what the name implies.

It’s an unfortunate choice of words that will likely lead to confusion about what they’re promoting.

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