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Thursday, January 24, 2013


A VINEYARD IN NAPA (University of California Press, 2012, 264 pages,
ISBN 978-0-520-27236-1, $29.95 US hardcovers) is by Doug Shafer, head
of Shafer Vineyards who, along with his father, John, were winners of
the 2010 James beard Foundation Award for "Outstanding Wine and Spirit
Professional". It's a memoir, aided by writer Andy Demsky, about John
Schafer's midlife career change in 1973. He moved from Chicago's
publishing arena to Napa, with no knowledge of winemaking. Thirty years
later, Robert M. Parker, Jr. called Shafer Vineyards, "one of the
world's greatest wineries". Doug narrates the story of ups and downs,
from a rural Napa to the tech wonder it is today. We learn about bugs,
cellar disasters, local politics, natural causes, and changing consumer
values. There is also material on sustainability, AVA creation, custom
crushing, and hobbyist investors. There are some 50 different topics in
shorter chapters, as well as an index to ties it all together.
Audience and level of use: wine lovers, wine historians
Some interesting or unusual facts: The 1980 Chardonnay was the first
Shafer wine served at the White House while Reagan hosted PM Indira
Ghandi from India.
The downside to this book: it is episodic, although that has its
moments in trying to read a few elements here and there.
The upside to this book: a good memoir about Napa life in the 1970-2010
Quality/Price Rating: 90.

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