r/T™: While studying at King’s College in London, did you always want to write about wine, or do you recall a singular, defining moment when you realized you simply must write about the topic?
AB: There was no eureka moment, just a gradual discovery of finding what I loved. I studied Literature because I always adored reading. I was actually already working as a journalist (I started writing for local newspapers when I was 16, two years before starting University) so I knew that writing was the direction I wanted to go.
Wine came after a few years later… I decided to learn about wine to ‘join the dots’ on two of my other great passions: food and travel. But then I discovered that wine encompasses everything I enjoy most in life: travel, gastronomy, nature, culture, people… Rather than joining the dots, it became the nuclei.
r/T™: After university, you enjoyed a successful journalism career before debarking for South America. What possessed you to leave Britain for South America? What kept you invested in the region for so many years? I understand you dance a mean tango – any other skills you picked up from your adoptive continent? Do you have any favorite memories from South America that still resonate with you?
AB: I felt that I wasn’t learning anything new at home anymore, there was always a new story of course but I felt I was covering the same ground as such. I love to learn, so my decision to move to South America was about personal growth and moving to a wine-producing region.
As for my relationship with South America, I was already hooked before I even arrived. I had completely fallen in love with South America from afar, mainly through Literature and culture, and when I arrived I felt perfectly at home. I love living between Argentina and Chile because I am at the heart of the South American wine scene, and it is the best way to understand the terroir – by living in among everything!
As for great South American memories, I have too many to mention. And as for great South American skills, too few to mention! I love to give it my best dancing tango but I’ll always have English hips… I will never be able to move like a true Latina, so I don’t even try to pretend! It’s the same story with my gringo accent – I sound embarrassing English in Spanish.
r/T™: Your CV reads like that of a seasoned pro, including editor & creator of Around the World in 80 Harvests, your ambitious global wine and travel documentary showcasing eighty renown and off-the-beaten-track wine regions around the world. In it, you explorepeople, places and culture through blogs, videos and photography. What spurred you to develop this project? It’s not a solo endeavor – how did you choose your team? How has it met/exceeded your expectations? Any goals still unmet?
AB: The thirst for knowledge and learning is what drives me to do 80 Harvests. The world of wine is so fascinating, so rich and so diverse. I wanted to try to communicate that, and see the world of wine through the eyes of local producers – asking them to show us all why their place in the world, and their wine, is unique.
It is a community endeavor. The ‘team’ is very much all the winemakers and producers involved. Without their generous sharing of knowledge and experience, it would be an impossible project. And without readers and a community participating, it wouldn’t exist.
Every part of the journey has exceeded my expectations because there is something unexpected in each destination. The goal unmet is obviously the number of regions visited, I still have some 60 to go! By 2018 I should have completed the mission, but it is really about the journey rather than the end-goal.
r/T™: You’re fresh off a “Born Digital Wine Awards 2016” win for “Best Tourism Content with a Focus on Wine.” Talk about your Born Digital Wine Award winning entry, why it’s important, and what this specific award means to you as a wine journalist?
AB: Working freelance is quite a lonely career choice. You rarely get any feedback, you don’t really have colleagues, and it is hard to know if you are doing things right! So this award means a lot to me. It feels like a comforting pat on the back, and that is really motivating.
You share your expertise on South American wines in such publications as Decanter, The Drinks Business, The Telegraph, The Guardian Feature, Fodor’s Travel Guides, Oz Clarke’s Pocket Wine Guide, and Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book Amanda the South America correspondent. Apparently, you and Hugh Johnson share an alma mater. Any mentors instrumental in helping develop your career as a wine journalist?
AB: Do we?! I had no idea! I will google that later! I respect many writers but my mentors have really been wine producers. It is the time that winemakers and agronomists have spent with me that has provided me with the greatest growth, and inspired me to keep learning. There are numerous winemakers in Argentina and Chile who have been my greatest mentors.
r/T™: Anything else you’d care to share with readers about Around the World in 80 Harvests specifically, or about your career as a wine journalist in general that you think is important for them to understand?
AB: I would just like to invite readers to join me on the 80 Harvests journey. The project is about global community and meeting people and wine lovers around the world, so I would like to invite everyone to be part of it! If you love wine and want to know more about wine from around the world, it should be right up your street and I hope to you’ll join us.
r/T™: Finally, if your experience as a wine journalist has taught you anything, it’s taught you…?
that no matter where you are, the very best wines are those shared with others.
About the Author:
Amanda Barnes is a British journalist who has been living in South America since 2009. She has tried over 700 Malbecs and eaten over 600 Chilean oysters and still has a functioning liver and kidneys (as far as she knows). When she isn’t drinking wine or sipping oysters, she writes for wine and travel publications including Decanter and Fodor’s. She is currently on a mission to discover the world of wine as she travels ‘Around the World in 80 Harvests’.All images courtesy of Amanda Barnes and Around the World in 80 Harvests.
All images copyrighted #80Harvests and reprinted by permission of wine journalist Amanda Barnes.
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