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Title: Pursuing quality wine in South Australia : materials, markets, valuations
Author: Brice, Jeremy
ISNI:       0000 0004 5357 2328
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis presents an ethnography of the processes and practices through which Australian grape and wine producers attempt to produce, and to assess, quality and value in the materials with which they work. Drawing on participant observation research conducted within two wine companies in South Australia – one owned by a multinational beverage conglomerate, one a family-owned boutique winery – this thesis engages with three overarching questions, which engage with the concerns of agro-food studies and of social studies of markets. First, how – and with what economic effects – are the sensory qualities of materials made to matter within the Australian wine industry? Second, how do grape and wine producers pursue wine quality in a more-than-human world, and in what ways might their endeavours problematise extant theorisations of economic agency? Finally, what might be the consequences of Australian wine producers’ recent engagements with principles of grape and wine quality centred upon geographical origin? In response to these questions, this thesis explores time-reckoning and value production in viticultural practice, the pricing of winegrapes during a fungal disease epidemic, the commercial relationships convened through the production of large-volume mass-market wine blends, and Australian wine producers’ recent attempts to produce ‘wines from somewhere.’ These empirical engagements lead it to argue that the qualification and valuation practices deployed within the Australian wine industry do not simply affect the qualities and prices of grapes and wines. They also shape economic agencies and vulnerabilities, organise and value commercial relationships among grape growers and wine producers, and reassemble the economic geographies of Australian grape production. This thesis concludes that because different ways of pursuing quality enact these phenomena in different ways, much may depend not only upon how successfully, but also upon how – through what techniques, practices, and associations – quality is pursued.
Supervisor: Whatmore, Sarah Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Geography ; Social Sciences ; Agriculture ; wine ; viticulture ; Australia ; valuation ; qualification ; agro-food studies ; quality ; geographical indications