Above Sea Level issue 2
Delivered to Stack subscribers in  Dec 2018

by Grace Wang in December 2018
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Using wine as a starting point, Above Sea Level travels to a different country or region for each issue to explore the culture and the people. Paying close attention to landscapes, environment and agricultural practices, it tells stories of how interesting wines are produced.

Aimee Hartley

Job title
Editor and founder

What is Above Sea Level?
A magazine that offers a fresh perspective on wine.

What makes it different to the rest?
We see wine as a product of place, so each issue focuses on a different country or region. Everything is really visual — it’s about taking people on a journey and understanding not just the character of a particular region or style of wine, but of the people that make it. It is a more thoughtful, human take on wine journalism.

Who makes Above Sea Level?
Mainly me. And my designer David Hardy who spent many years as a designer at Central Saint Martins. Lucy Murray Willis, a disciple of Inventory Magazine, is helping us with the art direction on our Portugal issue. They’ve both become good friends. We’ve been through the good, bad and the ugly together.

Who reads it?
I think we’d always hoped that people who were curious about wine, but might never pick up a wine magazine, would get excited about it. We’ve had some lovely notes from readers along these lines — from designers, to artists, chefs and winemakers. I think it’s more about a way of thinking than demographics.

Why do you work in magazines?
There is something so tactile about print, that I think is also true for wine. With paper, you smell the ink, leaf thorough the pages, slowly devour it. With wine, it is a similar experience. It all feels connected somehow. I wanted to make something I could hold in my hands and feel proud of.

Aside from the print magazine, what else are you involved in?
I also write about wine for Monocle and British Airways High Life, amongst a few others. It’s important to me to see wine journalism break out of wine magazines and into travel, business and culture publications. I also (hilariously) run a wine and 90s R&B night called GENUWINE with friend and sommelier Courtney Stebbings in London and Toronto, and am currently working on the wine list for the Hart Brother’s (Barrafina, Quo Vadis) new wine bar in Kings Cross.

What would you change about Above Sea Level if you could?
I’d have a bigger team. By bigger, I mean maybe one extra person to help with partnerships and advertising. It’s hard work pushing for these, whilst also commissioning, writing, editing and overseeing the art direction. Independent magazines take an incredible amount of work and love. Which I guess, is in part, why people love them.

Where do you see Above Sea Level in five years?
I HAVE NO IDEA. Am I allowed to say that? Well, I do have ideas but I wouldn’t like to spill the beans.

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