Winemaking Helps Break the Language Barrier

On our recent trip to Croatia for the International Wine Tourism Conference we visited ten wineries. At the wineries we visited, we spoke with someone that could speak English. Most of the time it was the winemaker. On a few visits, the winemaker was a little apprehensive about their ability to speak English. I noticed that when the conversation was about winemaking though, their English improved quite a bit.

We were tasting wines at San Tommaso in Bale in the Istria wine region. The winemaker was a little apprehensive. Then I began talking about the wines that Kathy and I have made. I mentioned a white Cabernet Sauvignon. Janja Debeljuh, owner and winemaker, sprang up from her chair and rushed into the production area. She returned with her white Cabernet Sauvignon. It was an orange translucent color and had aromas and tastes of red berry fruit. After our discussion of white Cab, Janja’s English seemed to be much better.

Perhaps winemaking talk improves one’s ability to community with other winemakers. We have discovered that when we talk about our winemaking experiences, many winemakers are much more at ease with us. They see us as fellow winemakers and not as writers. So far we experience this wherever we travel. A test will be this summer when we travel to Champagne, Burgundy and Bordeaux. We are going to visit the regions with a group of winemakers and wine growers. This trip was arranged by Washington State University. I’m anxious to see how the French winemakers will interact with other winemakers and growers. There are language barriers, but talking about winemaking bridges some of those obstacles and allows for communication.


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