The United Nations of Wine
12 November, 2018 - Lieke van der Hulst
“It is like seeing a great congregation of the United Nations,” Peter Gago, chief winemaker at Penfolds, said when welcoming the full international delegation of the Great Wine Capitals (GWC) in their cellars at Magill. My guess is, that if the United Nations would actually come together in similar style to the GWC, a lot of the world’s problems would be solved rather quickly.
The Great Wine Capitals Global Network includes 10 important wine cities, from all over the world. ‘Old world, New world, Our world’ was not only the slogan for hosting the GWC annual general meeting in Adelaide this year, but could also be a great descriptor for the GWC.
On day one I was having breakfast with the five ladies running everything viticulture, wine and tourism-related in the Napa Valley. By the end of the day, Ricardo Valente, city councillor of Porto, was enthusiastically explaining to me why people should skip Lisbon and just travel to his hometown instead (I did not dare tell him that Lisbon was the only place I visited in Portugal). In case you were wondering; it is of course the local wine that should get you there, but Ricardo also waxed lyrical about the generous hospitality, the beautiful old town centre interwoven with modern architecture and the amazing food. For those lucky enough to have visited Bordeaux’s la Cité du Vin, Porto is working on their version of a landmark devoted to wine from across the globe. In 2020 Porto’s answer to the Bordeaux wine museum should be ready, just in time for me to plan another trip to the old world and visit both world of wine experiences.
You get the idea – old world and new world, all coming together in our world. Bordeaux, Napa Valley, Mendoza, Valparaíso, Mainz/Rheinhessen, Porto, Bilbao/Rioja, Lausanne, Verona all send their best representatives for viticulture, wine, tourism and commerce to see what we have to offer in Adelaide. As it turns out, our little piece of heaven has a lot to offer and other cities are keen to implement what they have learnt from us. Unfortunately for them, they can’t just take home a couple of koalas and kangaroos (which were of course a great aspect of visiting Down Under and have been captured many times on camera during our visits), but it seemed that every capital was impressed with different aspects of our wine industry. Notes were taken on the impressive level of hospitality by Lausanne delegates, the down-to-earth and personal approach from South Australian winemakers by our Mendoza counterparts and even the pleasant and safe city planning of our CBD by the Napa valley visitors.
During the week we visited some of the 18 wine regions that surround Adelaide, and have seen the inside of a handful of the 370 cellar doors you can find in South Australia. I joined a group of delegates to the usual suspects (the Barossa, McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills) and also took a scenic flight to the Riverland to see what our winemakers are doing there. As a ‘new’ South Ozzie you don’t have to convince me why this part of Australia is so amazing, but this week’s events just reminded me over and over again how lucky we are.