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Volcanoes and Wine

From Pompeii to Napa

There’s a reason we pay top dollar for champagne and that bottles of wine from prestige vineyards cost as much as a car: a place’s distinct geographical attributes, known as terroir to wine buffs, determine the unique profile of a wine—and some rarer locales produce wines that are particularly coveted. In Volcanoes and Wine, geologist Charles Frankel introduces us to the volcanoes that are among the most dramatic and ideal landscapes for wine making.
            Traveling across regions wellknown to wine lovers like Sicily, Oregon, and California, as well as the less familiar places, such as the Canary Islands, Frankel gives an in-depth account of famous volcanoes and the wines that spring from their idiosyncratic soils. From Santorini’s vineyards of rocky pumice dating back to a four-thousand-year-old eruption to grapes growing in craters dug in the earth of the Canary Islands, from Vesuvius’s famous Lacryma Christi to the ambitious new generation of wine growers reviving the traditional grapes of Mount Etna, Frankel takes us across the stunning and dangerous world of volcanic wines. He details each volcano’s most famous eruptions, the grapes that grow in its soils, and the people who make their homes on its slopes, adapting to an ever-menacing landscape. In addition to introducing the history and geology of these volcanoes, Frankel's book serves as a travel guide, offering a host of tips ranging from prominent vineyards to visit to scenic hikes in each location.
            This illuminating guide will be indispensable for wine lovers looking to learn more about volcanic terroirs, as well as anyone curious about how cultural heritage can survive and thrive in the shadow of geological danger.

216 pages | 61 color plates, 27 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2019

Earth Sciences: Geology

Food and Gastronomy

Travel and Tourism: Travel Writing and Guides


“Packed with interesting information. . . . Frankel [a]lso includes details of opportunities for the roving imbiber, mentioning that anyone braving a particularly chilly Sicilian cellar will need to bring a sweater and that one of the pioneers of Vesuvian wine tourism puts on a 'well-oiled' lunch that concludes with apricot liqueur.”

Henry Hitchings | Times Literary Supplement

"Geologist Charles Frankel goes looking for answers in Volcanoes and Wine, blending history, geology, and viniculture in an illuminating tour of some of the most curious winegrowing locales on earth...Frankel’s book is well-researched, with the right blend of history, science, and wine."


"Volcanoes and Wine is a joyous celebration of the circumstances that produce some of the world's most venerated wines."

New Scientist

"This book takes readers to seven wine-growing regions in Europe and North America to explore the unique emergence of viticulture on volcanoes. Greece, Italy, France, Spain, and the Pacific Northwest of the United States have wineries that have produced important wines. Beginning with antiquity, science writer Frankel traces the establishment of grape cultures and production in the regions associated with the island of Santorini, on Mount Vesuvius and Mount Etna, and in Italy's Aeolian Islands; in the ancient rift valleys of France, the Canary Islands, and later in the Napa and Willamette valleys in the US; in the Channeled Scablands of the Columbia River basin; and even in Hawaii. For each region, Frankel elaborates on the geologic, climatological, and hydrologic processes that created conditions conducive to wine production and points out the challenges of maintaining vineyards in seismically and volcanically active settings. Growers who contend with lava flows, ash-depositing eruptions, and dangerous gas emissions have developed and maintained production of unique and high-quality wines featuring a diversity of varietals and hybrid cultivars. The work is a novel exploration of the practices of wine growing under similar conditions over 3,000 years. Each chapter concludes with suggestions for traveling to and exploring the region of interest."


Table of Contents

1 Volcanoes and Wine
Volcanoes and Agriculture
Volcano Types and Eruptions
Volcanic Soil
Volcanoes and Global Warming
Volcanoes and Wine

2 Santorini
The Dawn of Wine Making
Sitting on a Time Bomb
An Eruption of Mythic Proportions
Renaissance and Vinsanto
Santorini in the Twentieth Century
Santorini Grapes
Wine and Climate
A Terroir Made of Pumice
A Variety of Wines
Guide Section: Visiting Santorini

3 Mount Vesuvius
The Bay of Naples
The Vineyards of Pompeii
The Fatal Eruption of AD 79
The Final Blow
Pompeii’s Burial Date Revisited
A Vineyard Rises from the Ashes
Vesuvius Grapes and Terroir
Mount Vesuvius: Tectonic Setting and Magma Composition
Italy’s Orchard
Lacryma Christi: Tears of Christ
Living Dangerously
Farming the Last Lava Flow
A Look to the Future
Guide Section: The Practical Guide to Touring Mount Vesuvius

4 Mount Etna
Sicily’s Garden of Eden
Europe’s Most Active Volcano
Playing with Fire
The 1991–1993 Eruption
A Train Ride around Mount Etna
Etna’s Pistachios
The Oranges of Mount Etna
Strawberries and Wine
A Brief History of Wine
Etna Grape Varieties
I Vigneri, Keepers of Tradition
The Wines of Etna
Etna’s Fruit Brandies
The Winemakers
The Notion of Terroir
Franchetti’s Suite of “Terroir” Wines
A Very Special Vineyard
Guide Section: Visiting Mount Etna

5 The Aeolian Islands
Malvasia: Nectar of the Gods
Vulcano: Vines on a Time Bomb
Lipari: The Central Hub
Stromboli: Fire and Wine
Salina: The Hub of Malvasia
Guide Section: The Practical Guide to the Aeolian Islands

6 France’s Hidden Volcanoes
Rift Zones in France
A Volcano in Provence
Vines Rooted in History
Grapes of Auvergne
The Comeback of Côtes-d’Auvergne
Fire Meets Water: The Châteaugay Terroir
The Hill of Corent
Boudes, Chanturgue, and Madargue
Wine and Pumice: The Neschers Terroir
Guide Section: The Practical Guide to Auvergne

7 The Canary Islands
Vineyard History and Distribution
Lanzarote and the 1730 Eruption
Holes in the Ash
Grape Varieties in the Canaries
The Azores Islands
Canary Wines
Guide Section: The Practical Guide to the Canary Islands

8 California, Oregon, and Hawaii
Napa Valley: A Tectonic Basin
A Mosaic of Terroirs
Oregon’s Great Lava Fields
A Mighty Flood
Willamette Valley and Pinot Noir
Ocean versus Lava: Pinot Noir Takes the Stand
Hawaii and Coffee
Wines of Hawaii
Guide Section: Visiting California and Oregon

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