The vineyard project above the Florence airport and other unusual locations for wine production

From a nuclear power plant at an altitude of more than 3,000 meters, not to mention the volcanic wines of Lanzarote. These are some of the most unusual locations of some of the world’s vineyards.

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When it comes to vineyards, there are many factors that influence the production of the vine and the subsequent wine. From the type of soil to the climate, latitude, topography or the techniques used. If one had to highlight favorable wine regions for this, surely the first that would come to mind would be La Rioja or Ribera del Duero in Spain, and Bordeaux or Burgundy in France, to give just a few examples. But there are also cases of vineyards located in apparently unusual locations.

The latest case is the new Florence airport project. Presented a few weeks ago, this future terminal will cover an area of 50,000 square meters. In addition to a reorientation of the runway and luxury stores and all kinds of services, what has caught the attention of the project is that the roof of the terminal will house a vineyard of 7.7 hectares and 38 rows. It will be designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects and they have commented that the vineyards will be grown and harvested by one of the region’s leading winemakers and the wine will be made and aged on site in specialized cellars below the area where the land begins to slope to become the terminal’s roof. Although development has not yet begun, the studio has shared some sketches of what this new airport-vineyard will look like.

Boceto de lo que será el nuevo aeropuerto de Florencia, que incluirá un viñedo en el techo. Foto: Rafael Viñoly Architects

Taking advantage of the curious location of this vineyard, we have reviewed other unusual locations where vines are grown. Without going too far away, an area with surprising vineyards is located on the island of Lanzarote, specifically in La Geria. This is a volcanic region and here the vines are planted on solidified lava, some even inside the craters themselves. Malvasia grapes are grown in this arid soil, producing a wine rich in minerals. In addition, it has found in wine tourism a perfect activity to promote this area.

Otra de las localizaciones más insólitas de viñedos se encuentra en España: el paisaje volcánico de Lanzarote.

Another no less peculiar location is in the Chao Phraya Delta, southwest of Bangkok (Thailand). There are some 5,000 hectares of what are known as floating vineyards between the Tha Chin and Mae Klong rivers. The vines are planted in narrow rows of earth within a canal and the grapes are transported on boats once harvested. The area is also home to rice fields and various animals such as rabbits, snakes and even monkeys.

From the purest nature we move to an area with nuclear activity. In Finland, specifically on the island of Olkiluoto, there is a large nuclear power plant. Here, more than 20 years ago, more than 200 vines of the red wine variety Zilga, which comes from Latvia and is very resistant to the cold, were planted. This time, the vineyard works thanks to the residual cooling water that is heated by the reactor of the power plant, and is not radioactive. In the best vintage years, up to 800 kg of grapes have been produced. According to some media reports, this wine is not marketed.

Otra de las localizaciones más insólitas de viñedos es cerca de la planta nuclear de Olkiluoto.

Finally, it is also worth mentioning the position of some vineyards that, despite their peculiar inclination or height, also produce excellent wines and are located in unusual locations. This is the case, for example, of the world’s steepest vineyard. In a bucolic landscape of Germany, as if you were transported directly to medieval times, between the slopes of the mountains and the Moselle River is another of the most impressive vineyards in the world. Its main peculiarity is that it is planted with an inclination of about 65º, practically at the limit. In this area between the Hunsrück and Eifel mountains, and the valleys of the river’s tributaries, the Saar and Ruwer, Riesling grapes are produced. It is also a popular destination for wine tourism.

Algunas de las localizaciones más insólitas de viñedos se encuentran en Alemania, debido a su inclinación.

Also extreme is another of the most unusual locations of these vineyards in Tibet, which holds the Guinness record for the highest vineyard in the world. It is located at 3,563 meters. It is also known as ‘The Pure Land and High Altitude Vineyard’ and is located in Cai Na Xiang, Tibet. Over a decade ago, 11 grape varieties were planted on 66.7 hectares, including Vidal, Muscat and an indigenous ice wine variety called Bei Bing Hong.