Wine and the Vine: An Historical Geography of Viticulture and the Wine Trade

By Tim Unwin | Go to book overview

8

CAPITAL IN THE SPHERE OF PRODUCTION

Up, and having set my neighbour Mr. Hudson, wine cooper, at work drawing out a tierce of wine for the sending of some of it to my wife-I abroad, only taking notice to what a condition it hath pleased God to bring me, that at this time I have two tierces of claret-two quarter-cask of canary, and a smaller vessel of sack-a vessel of tent, another of Malaga, and another of white wine, all in my wine-cellar together-which I believe none of my friends…now alive ever had of his own at one time.

(The Diary of Samuel Pepys, 7th July 1665, [Pepys, 1972:151])

The dawn of the seventeenth century heralded a turning point in the history of wine. While there had been a number of changes in viticultural practice during the previous two centuries, particularly in the selection of specific grape varieties for cultivation in different parts of Europe, capital had generally been invested in trade rather than in production. From around the beginning of the seventeenth century all this was to change; in Lachiver's (1988:253) words, 'Avec le XVIIe siècle s'ouvre une ère nouvelle dans l'histoire du vignoble français.' [With the seventeenth century there opened a new era in the history of the French vineyard]. One aspect of this change can be seen reflected in the contents of Pepys's wine cellar, noted in the above quotation. This illustrates that by the mid-seventeenth century a great diversity of wines was being imported into England, and in particular it reflects the popularity of wines from areas where viticulture had previously never existed, such as the Canary Islands. Enjalbert and Enjalbert (1987:36) see this development as being primarily a response to political instability. Thus they argue that the incorporation of Crete and other eastern Mediterranean wine producing lands into the Turkish Ottoman Empire in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries led to the substitution of Malmsey made in Madeira for that from Crete. They also suggest that the political instability and destruction of vineyards caused by the Thirty Years War (1618-48) in Germany led to the replacement of the wines of the Rhine in the wider European

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