Explorer 6 went into orbit on the 7th of August 1959 and on the 14th of August beamed to base the first ‘outer space’ image of Earth. The data took 40 minutes to download and while a humble picture it was the start of seeing ourselves differently, even down to details like the taste of wine.
The view taught about wine is steeped in the gift of monks toiling in vineyards in Burgundy in the 10th Century. It is said they could see differences in the grapes that made them divide small blocks into tinier blocks and their work, captured in the French word terroir, still distorts thinking.
In Australia in 1959 another journey was underway and understanding how that unfolded helps in seeing the meaning of that first picture from space.
One of the post wars beacons that guided Australians along the path to the joy of table wines was Len Evans. Evans arrived in 1955, gave up the idea of being a professional golfer, and by 1959 had developed a role as a stock controller for hotels which allowed for his growing interest in wine. Evans married on the 18th of July 1959 and his biographer Jeremy Oliver notes that by 1959, ‘Evans was beginning to convert his enthusiasm for wine into genuine knowledge’. Evans was to have a profound impact on popularising wine while developing a coterie of disciples that have assisted in building the wine industry we have today.
Thus for many decades the leadership roles and ideas at Wine Australia developed from those days. A pity then that Wine Australia wishes to be monks and persists with views of a ‘sense of place’ while searching for unique Australian terroirs. The French are competitors and we would do well to leave this medieval descriptive to them.
Working the land for centuries leads you to seeing things that do not exist. The answers to wine lie not in the ground below but in the sky above and for the best view use a satellite. I have found the differences in quality of wine are not a wide chasm being instead rather narrow and are controlled more by what customers will pay. Look down from your own satellite and you will find the correct way to understand wine.