Reproducing Europe: The Old World Wine Rhetorics of a New World Wine Region

    • Cover Photo
    • Presentation speakers
      • Jessie Blackburn, Appalachian State University, USA


    With the burgeoning wine industry found in North America’s Appalachian region, we are witnessing the rapid adaptation of the culturally stereotyped ‘lowbrow’ Appalachia into a ‘highbrow’ wine-tasting destination. When we query the semiotics of the new Appalachian wine region, we find vintners who are adapting traditional Old World European wine rhetorics and championing a new discourse that selectively engages with established rhetorical narratives of Appalachian place and equally entrenched cultural narratives about the heritages of elite wine-making. As vintners work to rhetorically situate their vineyards into the broader wine narrative that is both national and international in posture, Appalachian wineries are working to situate the region’s collective cultural identity within very old (and sometimes dissonant) narratives about winemaking in French and Italian traditions. Based on over 80 site visits to Appalachian wineries; rhetorical analyses; and interviews with wine makers, wine associations, and government officials involved in wine promotion, this paper will examine the ways that reproduced Italian and French cultural signifiers work to legitimize an unrecognized wine region through cultural appropriation and association. Furthermore, this paper will argue that commodified notions of Old World Europe represent a new formation of North American place-making that is simultaneously derivative and inimitable (as well as local and global) in its adaptation.