Planet of the Grapes

A Geography of Wine

by Robert Sechrist


Wine is as ancient as humanity. Across time and around the globe, it has been considered an essential "staple," a source of evil, and a sophisticated, cultured commodity.

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Cover image for Planet of the Grapes

April 2017


Pages 323
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Geography and World Cultures/Culture
  Geography and World Cultures/Physical Geography and Environment

A fascinating and comprehensive introduction to the geography, culture, and history of wine that identifies the significance of this simple beverage throughout human history and today.

Wine was one the key founding foods of Western culture (bread and oil being the other two). It has played a key role in human history for thousands of years, having been used for enjoyment, rituals, and religious purposes; today, the production and consumption of wine is a billion-dollar industry that plays an important role in the global economy. Planet of the Grapes: A Geography of Wine provides an interesting and accessible lens through which students can learn about geography, culture, society, history, religion, and the environment. The chapters cover the historical geography of wine, document how drinking wine has often been condemned as a vice, and describe wines by region and type, thereby providing a cultural geography of wine.

Readers will learn about the historical geography of wine, terroir (the environmental conditions that affect grape crops), grape biogeography, the process of winemaking from a geographic perspective, the economic global significance of the wine trade, the ongoing love-hate relationship between wine and government, and what makes individual wine regions distinct. The content is written to be comprehensible to individuals without detailed previous knowledge about wine but provides detailed information and insight that wine connoisseurs will find engaging. Additionally, through the story of wine comes a unique telling of the social transformations in America that have resulted from sources such as anti-immigrant sentiment, pseudoscience, and censorship.


  • Uses a geographic perspective to examine the wide diversity of significant characteristics of grape varieties, growing conditions, and winemaking techniques
  • Describes the diffusion of wine culture from the Caucasus foothills to the rest of the world
  • Traces the transformation of wine (and alcohol in general) from being an essential "food item" widely consumed by the masses to being considered a scourge on society to being revered as a cultured commodity
  • Includes unique tables that simplify comparisons of wines between regions
  • Covers the breadth of wine geography to not only educate readers about world geography but also to provide information that can serve as an important topic in social and business settings
Author Info

Robert Sechrist, PhD, is professor of geography at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA, where he has taught for 30 years. He received his doctorate from Louisiana State University in 1986. In addition to being a Certified Specialist in Wine by the Society of Wine Educators, Sechrist holds a Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP) certification. He has had a lifelong interest in wine, making his first batch when he was 15. In 2012, with a partner, Sechrist opened Disobedient Spirits, a distillery located in Homer City, PA. His geography of wine course attracts about 200 students annually.



"Good and fresh information. . . . Recommended."Choice

"For wine novices and connoisseurs alike who are interested in making, tasting, or knowledgeably discussing wine."Library Journal

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