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04.11.2007

The Vines of Robinson Crusoe

As a young kid my imagination was swept away by tales of pirates and castaways in the South Pacific. In particular I was captivated by the tale of Robinson Crusoe, mostly based on the fantasy of being clever enough to actually survive and live in comfort on a remote tropical island. Of course, when I got older I realized that as inventive as Robinson Crusoe was, he was missing some pretty big essentials there on the island that rendered it slightly less than paradise in my opinion. The two things he was really missing? Women and wine. OK. Maybe he was also missing the Internet, or even just a good book or two, for Pete's sake. But my fantasies were first really shattered by the realization that the guy had no romantic prospects and no wine to drink.

But today I found out I may have been wrong about the wine. According to a story in (of all places) the Belfast Telegraph, I've learned that the tiny island of Rangiroa in French Polynesia is actually growing wine grapes and making wine.

Hard to believe isn't it? Apparently the Carignane and Muscat de Hambourg grow in the shade of Coconut palms on earth that the enterprising vineyard owner had to ship in from neighboring Tahiti.

I'm still shaking my head in wonder. Maybe life marooned in the South Pacific wouldn't be that bad after all. I guess it would just have to be on the right island.

Read the full story. Thanks to Andy at Spittoon.Biz for the tip on the story.

Comments (4)

Arthur wrote:
04.12.07 at 9:22 AM

Very interesting,

I didn't think good wine grapes could grow in the tropical regions until I learned that Uruguay's wine industry was started by the arrival of Tannat in the 1800s. I have not had the opportunity to try the Uruguayan Tannat, but I understand it makes a nice wine there. I would love to see some tasting notes on that and the Rangioran Vin de Tahiti.

Melanie wrote:
04.12.07 at 6:29 PM

Is it just me, or do they seem to be growing wine in more and more unorthodox places these days? Do you think it's related to global warming or just a coincidence?

Alder wrote:
04.12.07 at 6:38 PM

Melanie,

Well, if this were Norway we were talking about here, I'd say that Global Warming probably had something to do with it, but since it's the tropics, Global Warming should be making it harder, not easier to grow grapes there.

I think what we’re seeing is just human inventiveness (or insanity?) at work. Oh, and a real desire to have cheap local wine to drink.

Christian wrote:
04.14.07 at 4:31 PM

"I didn't think good wine grapes could grow in the tropical regions until I learned that Uruguay's wine industry was started by the arrival of Tannat in the 1800s."

Uruguay isn't really tropical in terms of climate. Their main issue is heavy soils, rainfall and humidity, which the thick-skinned Tannat handles fairly well.

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