This course takes a comprehensive and practical look at the process and the important factors that bring wine from field to table. Along the way, we will encounter environmental, scientific, sociological, legal, economic, and practical issues that will explain, in part, the complex nature of the many steps needed to assure that the various relevant enterprises have a reasonable chance of success. The course is not meant to prepare students for any particular profession, certainly not wine-making itself, but it will provide the background and the vocabulary needed to begin navigating the fascinating opportunities in the relevant fields of viticulture, oenology, and logistics that comprise the business landscape.
Vienna is singularly situated in one of the most compact, yet diverse, wine regions in the world. The class will visit wineries, wine taverns (called heurigers in Vienna), retailers/wholesalers, and trade associations in order to grasp the full picture of wine “in context.” Essential to this practical approach is also the instructor’s long association with the topic and the region and his personal experience as wine grower, consumer, and traveler to many of the wine world’s regions.
But there is a richer, deeper, less tangible, component to the course as well. The world of wine is populated with many individuals who are driven by passion as much as by economic success. Through readings, videos, travel and personal contact, students in the course will experience the magic and mystery that make wine much more than a typical product. Wine bottles, at their most essential best, are filled with a substance that reflects and radiates a strong sense of place, climate, and human caring that is sometimes difficult to articulate but that can be experienced at the hand of a master winegrower. Certainly there are generically, formulaically, manipulated, mass-produced examples whose main purpose is to enhance someone’s bottom line. But those who pursue beauty and truth and success in wine will experience rewards far beyond the economic marketplace. No real pursuit of the business of wine would be complete without both perspectives.