We hear the word terroir more and more every day—not just about wine, but with coffee, chocolate, even sugar. While you might have a sense of what it means, from technical definitions (“the set of all environmental factors that affect a crop’s phenotype”) or the experience of eating something in the very place where it was grown, there seems to be room for a deeper look at the concept and how it affects all we eat and drink.
That’s where Terre Magazine comes in, started by a natural wine writer (Rachel Signer, serving as publisher and editor), a self-taught illustrator (Erika DaSilva, art director), and a food and lifestyle photographer (Katie June Burton, who coincidentally shot the cover of our current innovation issue). Their skills and knowledge will combine in the form of this twice-yearly, art-driven indie magazine that seeks to go deep on wine and more.
They recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to get the first issue out by the end of the year. While they met their goal, you can still pre-order that issue—which will focus on natural, biodynamic wines—through June 8 for just $25. Here, we talked to the founders about their hopes and inspirations.
Edible Brooklyn: What inspired you to launch this magazine?
Rachel Signer: The first impulse to create Terre rose from a desire to collaborate. Erika and I met at the natural wine bar she was managing, Wildair in the Lower East Side; we admired each other’s creative work, and wanted to join forces; once we saw Katie’s work we knew she would add so much to the project.
Erika DaSilva: We knew we wanted the magazine to be a collection of artistic viewpoints incorporating photography, painting, illustration, and when we met Katie and saw what she was doing, it was an obvious match.
Katie June Burton: While making the transition as a freelancer last year, I met with dozens of incredibly talented photographers, artists and stylists. I wanted to chat about their creative process and hear about their goals, and found out that almost every person was hesitating to make the same jump. It’s clearly a huge risk to become a free agent, and so I really hope we can become a home for the artists looking to take the leap.
R.S.: We recognized the need for a publication like Terre. A few outlets cover the world of natural wine, but nobody is taking a deep dive as we hope to, and there is no art-driven, print magazine with an indie vibe focused on natural wine and its surrounding food culture.
EB: Why is now the right time to put out a natural wine-focused issue?
R.S.: The natural wine movement has been growing at a rapid pace in recent years. It’s happening quickly and people have a lot of questions about what natural wine is. We don’t want to provide a definitive answer, since natural wine can’t be defined legally (and winemakers don’t wish for that, generally speaking), but we can offer really great journalism and art that sheds light on this seemingly esoteric world. Most natural wine is made in remote places, but it’s drunk in cities, so there’s a disconnect. We can create a bridge for readers, whether they are new to natural wine or work in the industry, who love these wines and want to understand them better.
EB: Which magazines have provided inspiration to you, both with regards to the writing and the artistic vision?
Erika and Katie: This is a work in progress, as we are still researching layout design, but we’ve taken inspiration from Gather, Diner Journal, Brutal, Cherry Bombe, DVEIGHT and of course, Noble Rot, a London-based wine magazine. We will be different than all of these, however, in that we’ll focus quite closely on producers and makers themselves, rather than offering lots of recipes or talking about restaurants primarily.
EB: Why has it been important (or not) to make this a woman-led mag?
R.S.: This occurred organically; we admired each other’s talents and personalities above all, and we just happened to be women. But if you look at the media world, especially in New York, most magazines are run by men. In the majority of cases, it’s men who are determining the content, and earning the higher salaries, while women run the websites, the social media feeds, or do the low-paying freelance work. So, even though it wasn’t an explicit goal at first, being women-led has become important to us as we’ve been building the magazine.
KJB: As I mentioned about starting the magazine, there is a lot of fear that goes into creative risk. We can only hope to serve as an inspiration for all the brilliant, gifted ladies out there.
ED: There are so many talented people making incredible strides to work naturally and with respect towards the land. In our cases with creating Terre, we are three women whose backgrounds in media and food-centric communities provide specific insights into the worlds we are hoping to explore. We’d like to celebrate those point of views.
EB: Who do you see as your audience—people immersed in food and drink, or will there be room for new folks?
R.S.: All of our articles will be approachable. Whenever an insider-ish concept is introduced, especially with regard to winemaking, it will either be explained within the article, or we’ll provide a glossary in the back to help people get up to speed.
E.D.: Our hope is for the readers of Terre to be curious. We see terroir as an expression of time, place and tradition. As our worlds become a little more isolated and tech-driven, gaining knowledge into these important fundamentals may help us understand our own everyday lives.
KJB: Everyone! Naturally, people immersed in the food and drink industry will gravitate towards what we’re doing. Hopefully by incorporating beautiful visuals with unique stories, we’ll be able to attract all those willing to explore.
EB: What would you say to those who think “terroir” is a useless, pretentious word?
R.S.: If you’ve had the opportunity to visit a truly unique vineyard that has been part of a family’s heritage going back generations; or discovered a wine grape that is on the brink of extinction—then it’s pretty clear that “terroir” is not a spoofy concept. It is, however, very mystical and esoteric, which is why it deserves its own publication—it’s something that can be explored endlessly. We’ll never fully understand terroir; that’s its beauty. We hope to show why terroir matters to people who make food and wine, so that those of us who love consuming it can better appreciate its nuances.