Wine Culture Fantasies

Welcome, all, to my blog! I’m going to be writing about my personal, often critical opinions of things I do in Walla Walla this summer. “Things I do” will include my experiences in places such as wineries and restaurants as well as swimming holes and hiking spots. I hope for my blog to entertain you, inspire you, rile you up a little bit, and give you some solid info about the town we all live in.

My deal: I’m from the Boston area (lived there my whole life) and I wound up out here through a mysterious and perfect whirlwind of circumstances. I’ve never spent a summer on the west coast before. I just graduated with a degree in English. I like trying to pick things apart. I work in a tasting room downtown.

Which brings me to my next point: I LOVE wine culture in Walla Walla. And I don’t love it because I think it’s the best thing ever. I love it because it’s complicated.

Wine is celebratory. It’s about delayed gratification. It takes years to make wine, and once bottled, it takes years before wine reaches its prime. You wait for the right time to drink wine. There is some intuitive precision to the whole process, from grape to barrel to taste buds.

So sure, drinking wine is absolutely glorious. But making wine? Selling wine? I’ve quickly learned that these things lack glamor.

Recently, I’ve been drawn to gender distribution of workers in the wine industry. In just about every tasting room I’ve been to, mostly women work at the tasting bar and mostly men work in the production facility.

This kind of gender split, with young women as the faces of a company and young men in the back doing heavy-lifting, isn’t particular to the wine industry at all. It’s all over the food and retail industries.

But there’s a specific kind of fantasy construction involved in the wine industry. Buyers want to see family-owned companies making wine with Walla Walla fruit. They want cute historical and semi-personal anecdotes to go along with their wine.  So I’m wondering if, in addition to reflecting the overarching attitudes and power structures present in our culture, gender in wine also contributes to the preservation of this romantic myth of winemaking.

More on wine and fantasy production later!

In the meantime, what do you think?




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