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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

* DRINK BOOK OF THE MONTH! * - When Concord was King (Jim Warren)

WHEN CONCORD WAS KING! (Tellwell Talent, 2018, 163 pages, ISBN 978-1-77370-991-8 $27. 43 CAD Amazon.Ca papercovers) is by Jim Warren, a good friend of mine (hence: a conflict-of-interest). Jim was born in Hamilton, graduating with an M.A. in Roman History. While teaching languages in a local high school, he became an acclaimed amateur winemaker. So: in 1985 with his wife Charlotte he founded Stoney Ridge Winery. In 2000 he joined the faculty of Niagara College and assisted with the development of the Vineyard and Winery Management Program, acting as both instructor and winemaker. In 1997 Jim was selected as Ontario winemaker of the year (Ontario Wine Awards) and 10 years later received the Cuvee Award of Excellence for his contribution to the wine industry. As a consultant Jim has assisted with the creation of numerous new wineries and wines in Ontario. "When Concord was King" is a book exploring the early beginnings of the wine industry in Eastern North America, focusing on Ontario. It's more than just Concord grapes of course – it looks at all the "foxy" tasting grape wines not made from V. vinifera (European varietals). V.labrusca is the most prominent; indeed, it is called the fox grape. Cultivars and hybrids here include Concord, Catawba, Delaware, Dutchess, Niagara, and Isabella. He begins with the "southern fox" – North America's first wine – from Muscadine. He moves through the centuries and arrives in Upper Canada in 1790. A big chunk of the book deals with Ontario developments 1880 – 1980. He walks us through Prohibition, the start of the LCBO, the Depression, the Second World War – and Harry Hatch with Brights. It took until 1951 for vinifera to be planted, when chardonnay was grafted onto phylloxera-resistant root-stock. It was later marketed as Pinot Chardonnay. This is a compelling read, made more vivid by Warren's writing style. He's got his reference material cited, a series of glosses in each chapter, and some critical notes and histories of many early Eastern North American grape hybrids. There is no index, which is unfortunate, but if you can get hold of the PDF or ebook version, then word searching should be no problem for all the names and places. Quality/Price Rating: 90

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