Vines in the Strangest of Places

I was thinking the other day about how the simple vine has such a place in the world. Think of the production of wine worldwide, the people employed in the industry – not just growing and making the wine, but companies that bottle, label, market and promote. Good wine is made on simple farms or in really posh world-renowned places that can command hundreds of pounds a bottle. Even architecture comes into play – have a look at this - the cellars at Chateau Margaux, even redesigned by famous British Architect Sir Norman Foster.


That’s the famous. What about the unusual? Talking to Carol Brown the other week, a tutor based in Scotland and she mentioned that she was off to Switzerland on a wine tasting trip. Really? I hadn’t really thought about Switzerland before – properly.

Apparently, there are 15,000 hectares of vines there – in the French-speaking West, the German-speaking East and the Italian-speaking South. Formal regulations of production (and thus consistent quality) were introduced recently, in the 1990’s. The main grape grown is the Chasselas.

And here’s another great little tale – making wine in a war zone. The most well-known wine of the Lebanon is Chateau Musar. Highly commended and usually sold with a few years of age. A wine you can find at Waitrose and well worth the investment. Cool nights and rain mean that the grapes are ripe later than in the south of France. Unexpected for somewhere you might feel a desert. Quite unique. Red and white are produced and compared with some of the best. Here’s a bit more info.

Lastly, did you know there’s even a small vineyard in Paris? In fact, today there are around 150. Small and mainly educational, but there all the same. The best known is right next to Sacré-Coeur Cathedral, in Montmartre. Called Clos Montmartre, it makes around 1,500 half bottles of gamay and pinot noir. Described by experts as “decent enough”, it seems to be more a novelty than anything. However, it plays a big part in a wine festival there, so can’t be all bad.  

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So, the vine crops up (no pun) all over the place. If you have a favourite unusual place for wine to grow – do share - at .