Terroir is a word that has appeared often in these pages. Taste of place, a phrase with related meaning, likewise has appeared plenty of times. This phrase is a tag line used frequently in our work, based on an experience I had in Paraguay in 2005. We will begin weekly “taste of place experiences” for guests in both Authentica shops tomorrow; starting with mead, followed by chocolate, then honey, coffee and so on. Every week an artisan will present how they source ingredients, how they make their product, and how the taste of it reflects the particular location in Costa Rica where sourcing is done. So, great to see this about urban taste of place movement in our neighbor to the north:
Long celebrated in France, the concept of place-specific tastes is spurring the revitalization of neighborhoods and communities.
THE GRAPEVINES RISE at the corner of East 66th Street and Hough Avenue in Cleveland, 14 trim green rows claiming over half a city block — a little less than an acre — beside an abandoned building with boarded-up windows, whose rolling lawn on a summer morning is as lush as Versailles’s. The sky is brilliant and wide above stoplights and swoops of telephone wire. Across the tar-patched street stand storefronts behind scissor gates and a former grocery whose facade half collapsed last May, raining brick on the sidewalk. Down the avenue, the walls of another boarded-up building have been commandeered as an outdoor art gallery, papered over in posters with messages: “I survived the Hough riots”; “Growing your own food is like printing your own money.”
For centuries, the French have used the word “terroir” to describe the environment in which a wine is produced. Going back to the Latin “terra,” “earth,” it’s rooted in a traditional vision of the countryside and has become more fervently embraced as our agrarian past recedes. Today, more than half the world’s population lives in cities, and an estimated 800 million of us take part in some form of urban farming, producing as much as one-fifth of the food we eat — recalibrating both our idea of agriculture and the mystique of origins. When Mansfield Frazier planted his Cleveland vineyard in 2010, which he christened Château Hough, he became part of an unofficial movement of urban dwellers across America transforming vacant lots, rooftops and their own backyards into farms, vineyards and apiaries, encouraged in part by government grants aimed at revitalizing cities.
Frazier was warned about the potentially stunting effects of exhaust from passing cars, and was told he’d be lucky if the plants grew shoulder high. Instead, “they jumped out of the ground,” he says, reaching 12 feet the first year. The soil turned out to be good for grapes: Sandy and loose, it harbors heat, drains well, resists pests and allows the vines’ roots to go deep. Frazier added a little phosphorous at the beginning, but has otherwise left it pretty much alone. Although he’d dreamed of making chardonnay, he was advised that European viniferas might be too delicate for Ohio, where temperatures can drop below zero. So he chose cold-hardy hybrids, Traminette and Frontenac, which have survived winters when larger rural vineyards in the state lost whole crops…
Read the whole article here.