Image credit: Alamy
Features 7 July 2020

The view from on high: an aerial perspective of the world’s vineyards

Seen from overhead, the soils, contours and layout of these wildly contrasting vineyards evoke an other-worldly dimension

Words by Guy Woodward

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We’re accustomed to seeing panoramic photographs of vineyards, all blue sky and green landscapes, documenting the wine world’s idyllic vistas. The more obsessed among us are equally familiar with up-close profiles of individual vines, charting their trellising, pruning and training systems. But aerial shots present a whole new perspective.

Take the above view of La Geria in the unheralded wine region of Lanzarote. Here, individual bush vines are planted into the arid black volcanic soil and then partly buried in layers of coarse but porous picón ash, which retain the night-time humidity to provide the requisite moisture to the vines. Low, semicircular walls are built around the exposed vines to protect the grapes – mostly Malvasía – from the wind. The result, viewed from overhead, could be a scene from another planet.

Here are four other spectacular overhead panoramas from right across the wine world…

The steep inclines of the Douro’s terraced vineyards built into the banks of the river are, by contrast, well known. The region’s Port houses keep stonemasons on their payroll to maintain the walls that buttress the terraces, which themselves also require arduous cultivation and harvest by hand. Less familiar – but equally mesmerising – are the vineyards’ beguiling contours, seen here to dramatic effect. Image credit: Daily Overview
New Zealand may be categorized as cool climate, but much of Central Otago is subject to dry, warm conditions. Here in Lowburn, gravelly schist soils provide an infertile, quick-draining base for vineyards that are often located on steep, sunny slopes. The result is stressed vines whose roots stretch deep into the earth to access water, focusing their energies on concentrating the grapes rather than building up foliage. Image credit: Alamy
The wines of the Moselle are peculiar in being the output of three different countries. Those of Germany are
renowned; those of France, a little less so; and situated between the pair, those of Luxembourg barely register in the global vinous consciousness. Yet here in the commune of Schengen, a patchwork of vineyards gives rise to an astonishing variety of styles: from sparkling crémant to an array of aromatic whites – Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer – plus Pinot Noir; regional specialities such as Müller-Thurgau, Elbling and Auxerrois; and late-harvest ice wines and straw wines. Image credit: Alamy
Seen from above, the individual vines of this widely spaced Sonoma vineyard look like an orderly army of ants. The vines are situated in the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains, which separate Sonoma from the neighbouring Napa Valley to the east. California’s two most famous wine regions run parallel to each other, with Sonoma’s closer proximity to the ocean yielding a cooler climate; the protection offered by the mountains provides the warmer conditions that yield Napa’s more powerful reds. Image credit: Alamy

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