Flying Winemakers

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

flying winemakers, term coined by English wine merchant Tony laithwaite for a team of young Australian winemakers he hired to work the 1987 vintage in French co-operative wineries. The idea was to apply Australian hard work and technological expertise to inexpensive grapes, thereby producing a unique range of wines for his mail-order wine business. The scheme originally depended on the fact that australia has a substantial number of highly trained winemakers (see academe) who are relatively idle during harvest time in the northern hemisphere, where most of the world’s wine is made. This sort of bought-in oenology initially worked best in areas with a considerable quantity of relatively inexpensive grapes but whose technical potential was yet to be realized. It thus excluded the classic wine regions and much of the new world but decisively included southern France, much of Italy (especially Puglia and Sicily), and Iberia, eastern Europe, some of the more open-minded South African wineries, and South America. The concept was such a success that it was much imitated and developed into a phenomenon with a long-term impact on winemaking techniques and wine styles all over the world (see globalization) in the 1990s, although the marked increase in local oenological training and skills has made the phenomenon less common.