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Attending to grape vines: perceptual practices, planty agencies and multiple temporalities in Australian viticulture

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jeremy Brice



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


This article considers the agency of crop plants within sociocultural processes by examining how grape vines influence seasonal labour patterns in Australian viticulture and wine production. Drawing on ethnographic research within a large Australian wine company, I examine how vineyard managers and winemakers coordinate the timing of the grape harvest with the ripening of grapes. I argue that by making the harvest's approach perceptible to humans, chemical and sensory tests of grape ripeness precipitate seasonal changes in viticultural work—rendering grape vines active participants in patterning social time. Practices of attention to ripening grapes thus render the social agency of grape vines perceptible. I analyse these time-reckoning practices as a ‘learning to be affected’, in which human viticulturists actively strive through multiple sensory practices to become attuned to plants' activities. However, attending to the multiple practices used to reckon the ‘right’ time to harvest grapes also emphasises that these ways of enacting the times and agencies of crop plants may interfere or conflict with one another. Highlighting the emotional stresses and tensions between viticultural workers that this may generate, I suggest that agricultural time is both more conflicted and more suffused with power relations than theoretical accounts have typically indicated.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Brice J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Social and Cultural Geography

Year: 2014

Volume: 15

Issue: 8

Pages: 942-965

Print publication date: 05/11/2014

Online publication date: 05/02/2014

Acceptance date: 12/11/2013

Date deposited: 20/03/2016

ISSN (print): 1464-9365

ISSN (electronic): 1470-1197

Publisher: Taylor & Francis


DOI: 10.1080/14649365.2014.883637


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