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'Nature' and Infrastructure: Articulating Terroir in a Moldovan Winery
(Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)
Paper short abstract:
Through the case of a Moldovan winery, I show that terroir is a complex notion that needs to be assembled through infrastructures of evidence and selection in order to produce value on the market.
Paper long abstract:
The recent emphasis on terroir among Moldovan winemakers is one of the responses to the pressures of competitive wine markets in global capitalism. In terroir, both unique and generic features of a place are evidenced and the articulation of terroir as a value-adding and differentiation tool depends on digital, evidencing or on other productive infrastructures. How are these infrastructures mobilized for measuring and classifying 'nature' (e.g. vineyards, soils, yeasts) in the production of terroir? How does the interplay between 'generic' and 'unique' in this context produce value? I analyse how terroir is articulated at one of the oldest Moldovan wineries, showing that value is produced through human labour embodied in infrastructures for selecting, classifying and differentiating 'nature'. I break down the classificatory and selective processes capturing terroir done through measurements, laboratory analyses of soils and yeasts, or through communication. Evidencing and information infrastructure (websites, presentations, leaflets or tastings) are necessary in substantiating terroir and in performing and disseminating it in relevant environments, in order to create value. Contrary to several authors in economic sociology and anthropology, I show that there is no clear distinction/opposition between the uniqueness of commodities and genericness, but that the two categories are constituting each other in the realm of commodities.
Infrastructures of Value: Uniqueness and Genericness in Agri-Food Chains [Food Network]