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In rereading Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the, I noticed at least two references to elf-made wine: Snape offers it to Narcissa and Bellatrix in the first chapter, and Hagrid and Slughorn sing its praises when they get shitfaced after Aragog's funeral. Now, house-elves don't strike me as the vintner types. As far as they have been presented, house elves are the semi-skilled domestics of the wizarding world; never have we seen them have any inclination to the kind of highly skilled and specialized labor wine-making and brewing would require, nor has it ever been mentioned that they are employed in such a capacity. If there is wine made by house elves, wouldn't it bear the label/name of their master? Wouldn't the master then get the credit for the wine? Wizards in general, even the open-minded ones like the Weasleys, don't seem inclined to give house elves much credit for anything regardless of the elf's competence or personality. Most wizards don't seem to think house elves are capable of anything great, or even doing something particularly well, so why are wizards writing songs about the wonderfulness of elven wine? Why are they keeping bottles of it to get dusty in the cellar as though it were some rare vintage?

I'm thinking perhaps house elves aren't the only elves. They certainly weren't the only ones in the folkloric traditions Rowling has freely admitted she draws from. I concur with the assessment of the essayist at Red Hen that House Elves are more properly known as Hobs (frelling brilliant analysis, BTW), and are thus drawing from a very specific tradition. They are the kinds of elves that make shoes and sweep up after you at night, sort of like brownies. In the Potterverse, these elves appear to be related to goblins and leprechauns, and possibly trolls (if one is to go for a morphological classification system).

I propose that there is another species called "elves", and that they may be more closely related to veela and merpeople (and, distantly, centaurs?), and they are the vintners who garner such praise. The magical peoples (not creatures, for which we have already been given a guidebook) who Harry has encountered so far seem divided into the "little people" and the "humans but more magic than you" types. So why couldn't there be both House Elves and the other kind of elf? You know, those elves: the Fair Folk, the ones that play cuckoo and put their own children in human cradles, the ones who kidnap your sister if she walks around the church widdershins, the mound-builders, the rulers of the Other land who seduce poets to spend centuries in their courts. Certainly both types exist side-by-side in the folklore.

And just why haven't we met these Sonoma-caliber wine-makers yet? If I were King of Elf-land (or wherever), ruler of a proud and skilled people (also, more magic than you) and guardian of an ancient culture, I wouldn't take being governed by a bunch of stick-waving apes very well. Especially not if said stick-waving apes happened to think that their stick waving made them inherently superior to those peoples who do not need a stick and several years of highly specialized training to use their magic. Better to withdraw and conduct such commerce as we may at a distance. They're not a factor in the story simply because they aren't around to get sucked into the plot. But, like non-European countries, that doesn't mean they don't exist.
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