Have you ever thought how many of the main wine regions of Europe are close to rivers? The Rhone, Mosel and Douro Rivers are all so closely linked to wine that they have wine regions named after them. The Loire has vineyards along more than half of its length, the Rhine features in a number of German regional wine names and Bordeaux, Burgundy and Rioja all have rivers running through or close to them – the Garonne and Dordogne, Saone and Ebro, respectively. And there are many others.
This is no coincidence: rivers affect climate, they can excavate deep valleys with steep sides ideal for vineyards, they provide water for irrigation and, in centuries past when road transport was difficult, they provided the easiest way to transport heavy cargoes such as wine. In these and so many other ways rivers have been helpful either to grape growing (and so to winemaking) or, perhaps, more importantly, in ensuring that a particular wine can reach its market.
And it’s this fascinating subject – “The Wine Rivers of Europe” – that I’ve chosen for a series of talks I’m running at Bristol’s Stoke Lodge Centre this autumn.
Each week, I’ll concentrate on a particular river and we’ll talk about (and taste, of course!) the wines that can be found along its length. Provisionally, the talks will comprise the Loire, Rhine, Danube, Rhone and Douro. They will run for 5 consecutive Wednesday evenings from 7pm to 9pm starting 2nd November. The cost for the whole series is £60 plus a share of the cost of the wines tasted (which will be limited to a maximum of £8 per person per week). Booking is essential as places will be very limited and can be made online at www.bristolcourses.com or by phone on 0117 903 8844.
If this doesn’t appeal or you can’t make the dates, have a look at the same website for some of the one day Saturday courses I’ll be running at Stoke Lodge during the first half of 2017. Hope to meet some of you there!