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A Vineyard in My Glass
by Gerald Asher
(Univ. of Calif., $30)
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“Almost all the best English wine writers seem to have begun life as wine merchants,” said Lettie Teague in The Wall Street Journal. Gerald Asher was a wine buyer before his 30-year career as a wine columnist for Gourmet, and he is responsible for some of the most evocative writing about wine put to page. Some of Asher’s columns collected here are, unsurprisingly, a bit dated. But “there is a timelessness in his writing” that makes most every piece “a literary pleasure.”
An Ideal Wine
by David Darlington
This portrait of two California wine-industry giants is one of the best books ever written about “how modern wine is really made and sold,” said Russ Parsons in the Los Angeles Times. Randall Grahm, of Bonny Doon Vineyard, is the story’s artistic spirit; Leo McCloskey, of the consulting firm Enologix, is the technician who shapes wines according to chemical profiles. The contrast allows author David Darlington to capture both the ruthlessness of the $18 billion business and its capacity to delight.
Dying on the Vine
by George Gale
(Univ. of Calif., $40)
It’s hard to imagine a more frightening moment in the history of viticulture than the one George Gale re-creates here, said The Economist. In the last decades of the 19th century, a root-munching aphid swept across Europe, destroying formidable vineyards “from Rioja to Rheingau.” Though Gale sometimes writes like the academic he is, his account of the successful battle to save Europe’s storied grapes—ultimately by grafting the vines to phylloxera-resistant American rootstocks—is consistently fascinating.
by Katherine Cole
(Oregon State Univ., $19)
“In almost any discussion of wine these days, the subject of biodynamic viticulture is likely to come up,” said Eric Asimov in The New York Times. In “easy-to-understand language,” wine columnist Katherine Cole traces the development of this in-vogue method of organic growing to its roots in the suspect ideas of a 1920s philosopher. Though it’s “not always clear how or whether” the methods work, Cole does showcase the astonishing success achieved by vintners in Oregon who’ve embraced the trend.