By Kori ~ August 26th, 2009.
Thank you for joining us for the August “virtual meeting” of the Wine Book Club. Many thanks to Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20 who originally proposed the idea for the WBC where bloggers and wine lovers come together for book reviews and discussions after reading a selected text. Dr. Debs chose A Vineyard in Tuscany: A Wine Lover’s Dream by Ferenc Máté as this month’s selection. Unfortunately, this month is the final meeting of the Wine Book Club. While those of us, who have participated regularly, me, Dr. Debs, and Frank of Drink What You Like, will certainly continue to read wine books and post about them on our own blogs, we will not be continuing with the monthly club.
A Vineyard in Tuscany is your standard feel-good story of adversity and perseverance which ultimately results in a happy ending. However, its setting in the beautiful and romantic hills of Tuscany is what makes it special. And the fact that it is a story of a writer’s journey as well is also somewhat unique and probably helped pay the bills.
Máté and his wife Candace, an artist who lovingly refers to him as Chum, lived in a small villa called La Marinaia near Montepulciano with their son and dreamed of having their own vineyard and making their own award-winning wine. In the beginning, it was mostly Máté’s dream. After searching everywhere in the region for months and months and making an ill-fated overture to a less-than neighborly neighbor, they finally found the place they had been looking for, called Il Colombaio, in Montalcino. “Chum,” Candace whispered, “God built this ruin for you.”
Then came the tough part: paying for it and developing the land around it into a working vineyard. While Máté was always talking about the scarcity of money before and during this project, it was interesting to me to note that they always seemed to have funds for expensive summer sailing trips and other exotic travel adventures.
Much of the book is devoted to chronicling the story of developing the fifteen acres of vines that were put in by hand along with the effort and expense of restoring the ruin into a home and winery. One highlight was the unexpected visit by their new neighbor Angelo Gaja, the famous Italian vintner, who had just purchased the vineyard next to theirs. At their first meeting, Gaja presented them with a gift of what turned out to be a $400 bottle of Sori San Lorenzo wine.
In the end, the Mátés prevail and they produce wines that receive international acclaim. While a few of the side trails Máté takes the reader on seemed distracting to me, it was generally a good read and a great story. Since Italy and Tuscany, in particular, were already on my short list of places to visit, this book did nothing but reinforce my desire to make that trip. Hopefully, sooner rather than later.
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves Italian wine, is considering a trip to Italy, or who fantasizes about owning their own vineyard and winery. If this describes you, head on over to Amazon or your book retailer of choice and pick up a copy.
Have you already read A Vineyard in Tuscany: A Wine Lover’s Dream? If so, please leave a comment and let us know what you thought of it.
Filed under: Italian Wine, Wine Book Club, Wine Books