Interactive maps give wine a new dimension

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Some wine drinkers love wine themed gadgets and others, us writers, love widgets that help them see their passion from different angles. I particularly like the maps both for the context they give as a whole and, in the digital versions, for the ability to drill down to a very granular level. In no particular order or ranking, here are a few interactive map sites that offer treats, tastings, and plenty of time in the rabbit hole.

This handy interactive map of World population review shows the 2021 wine production in volume (gallons) for each state and its production share. It’s definitely low-tech – no real bells and whistles or twirling emojis here – but it’s fun to click on each state and bring up the data in the bar below. If you scroll down the site, the data is represented by rank with an interactive bar that shows the same production information.

Belle-France is a walking and cycling holiday outfitter, but has a great interactive map of the Loire Valley vineyards that will appeal to all wine lovers and students. The Loire, as you know, is the longest of France’s riverine wine valleys, with tons of micro (and micro in micro) climates and varied soils, so understanding its vast offerings is a challenge. But here, with a color code by sub-region, a click brings up an overview of the region, its soil, its climate and its grapes. Toggling the grape icon at the top will bring up the vineyard sites. Another useful feature is the “Match grapes you know with the appellation name on your bottle label” (requires a shorter name) feature, which does exactly that when you press the arrow in the lower right corner. This super long-named widget brings up the grape and wine styles. If you descend too far into the rabbit hole, press the reset button to return to the home map and start all over.

Germany’s tiered classification system makes it a notoriously difficult wine region to understand. This map produced by the Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter (VDP) offers a view of the country’s top wineries in 13 regions. While this is clearly a promotional vehicle for estates in this classification – clicking on a wine estate pin brings up elegant producer profiles – and somewhat limited in scope, it is a good starting point to understand how the region presents itself.

While we are on the subject of complexity – and not just as a tasting note – the Burgundy wines The site hosts an interactive colored map of Burgundy showing the different classifications of appellations (grand and premier crus, villages, regional). A limited menu lets you search by city, event, or producer, and zooming in will bring up a producer locator pin. But the site’s technology is dormant, slow, and frustrating. Still, it’s an authoritative rundown of those pesky appellation names. I prefer to have a version

of the book of wine at Paris The Climates, a list of 314 beautifully bound and printed pages which includes detailed maps of the ranks belonging to individuals – a clear demonstration of the fragmentation of Burgundy (the term “Climate” has been used since the Middle Ages to denote a precisely demarcated parcel of land dedicated to the vine). If there is a site that combines the beauty of this wine list with practical information about Burgundy and harnessing feature technology, I would like to know, please.

Each vine was created by cartographer Thomas Jordan as a participatory mapping site for wine-centric locavores who want to know exactly where their wine is coming from. Growers can get plot and block specific information such as grape varieties, clones and dates of rootstock planting and trellis methods. You can search by region or by grape variety. I did some random status searches and the quality or clarity of the information depended on what the producers chose to download. The most comprehensive is Sonoma County, California, Jordan’s former home.

Surprisingly, the Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Commerce hosts a pretty decent interactive map of America’s wine regions. Unsurprisingly, the AVA Map Explorer is a bit boring visually, but you can change the base maps to street views, topographic maps, or satellite. The site has good, albeit basic (just the facts, ma’am!) Information on existing and proposed AVA limits. The “Add to my AVA” feature allows you to create a reference library. Focusing on a specific AVA brings up options to see the legislation that designated the AVA (federal registry and other records), and the cool thing is you can see all of the stringent requirements related to the AVA. the creation of an AVA – distinguishing the characteristics of the soil and geology, climate, altitude, etc.

Master sommelier Fernando Betata hosts a series of interactive maps on its to place, some of which are Google Earth tours of the regions (Germany, Burgundy Côte de Nuits, Madeira and Santorini) and others that use Google Earth-like technology to zoom in and out and offer pop-ups with information specific to the appellation such as notable vineyards, surface area, size, soil, stylistic notes. The site is a bit rudimentary and confusing to navigate – almost like it started something cool and then abandoned it when the technology got more sophisticated, but it’s a pleasure to dig around with a glass of wine.

Winemaps.com offers a view of the cellars and wine bars, identified by icons on a map. A combination of hovering over the icon and zooming in will activate a pop-up information box with the name and address of the site. You can also refine your search using regional filters that cover most wine regions of the world and even down to the appellation level. It is a bit slow and awkward to move between pages and you will need a little patience to navigate and wait for a new page to load, but it can be useful for initial planning for a trip on the wine theme. A similarly modeled site, wineroad.com, focuses on the wine region of Sonoma County.


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