UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Expanding conceptualizations of sustainability through artification, sensoriality, and ideology : the case of the Okanagan Valley wine industry Peña Moreno, Camilo Andrés


This dissertation is presented as three interrelated studies that were prepared as standalone articles. Each article focuses on one key subject that emerged from years of fieldwork and analysis: the different existing interpretations of sustainability in the wine industry; the imperative to have sensorially pleasing wines; and the lack of definition for sustainable and natural wines. By exploring these subjects, this dissertation studies the cultural practice of winemaking and wine tasting to examine how different interpretations, values, and practices of wine production and wine tasting are embodied and rationalized through distinct discourses of sustainability. Through participant observations, interviews, and informal conversations in British Columbia’s Okanagan wine region, the author begins by examining how the concepts of sustainability and nature are expressed and used by wine producers with different types of winemaking practices (Chapter 2). Through a comparative analysis of these expressions and uses of sustainability and nature, a sustainability continuum is proposed, as basis for a sustainability typology of wine producers. Chapter 3 then moves on to the topic of wine sensoriality and how its socio-cultural construction has a key role in furthering (or obstructing) the development of a sustainability-focused wine industry. For this chapter, the author draws on three distinct research projects, covering a wide spectrum of methodological and epistemological approaches, with both quantitative and qualitative tools, to provide a better understanding of the concept and role of wine expertise and how it manifests in the form of wine sensory assessments. This chapter provides evidence that wines with differing and unusual sensorial characteristics can be appreciated differently depending on the context and background of each taster and that certain sustainable wines (e.g., natural wines) with more sensorial differences than mainstream wines might be less accepted in regions where there is no space for variation from a set standard of iv taste and quality. Finally, Chapter 4 presents a new conceptualization of a specific type of sustainable wines - natural wines - as subversive art. With this, by providing an alternative conceptual way to describe an ill-defined winemaking approach, the chapter contributes to the study of social movements by presenting subversive and urban art as a framing element rather than a direct medium for dissent.

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