From the author of the acclaimed Angels’ Visits comes an inside look at how a handful of ingenious winemakers has transformed—and been transformed by—the California wine industry over the past four decades.
In the 1970s, a group of idealistic baby boomers was attracted to the seemingly romantic world of winemaking. Over the course of nearly forty years, however—as competition from abroad increased, wine eclipsed beer and spirits as American adults’ beverage of choice, critics came to control the marketplace, and corporatization took over the industry—these young aesthetes would learn that wine is an unforgiving business. They would have to be clever to survive in an increasingly cutthroat atmosphere, and no one was more innovative than Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard—the court jester and bleeding conscience of California wine, its most original and amusing figure. But Grahm is only one of the restless visionaries who, having chosen wine as the vehicle through which to fulfill their dreams, ended up changing the rules of the industry by adapting to its demands. From high technology to hardball entrepreneurship, from handicapping scores to holistic farming, each vintner operates by his or her own definition of an ideal wine.
In this lively, sweeping account that spans the early seventies to the present day, David Darlington employs a sharp journalistic eye to profile a group of wine pioneers. A tale of vision and disillusion, brinksmanship and pragmatism, nature and business, politics and culture, An Ideal Wine is a fascinating look at an ever-evolving industry that reflects the values of our society and our civilization.
David Darlington is the author of four books: In Condor Country, Angels’ Visits (published in paperback as Zin), The Mojave, and Area 51. A special correspondent for Wine & Spirits and a recipient of a 2008 James Beard Foundation Award for Writing on Spirits, Wine, or Beer, he also won a National Magazine Award for Public Interest in 2009. He lives in Berkeley and Mendocino County, California.
Wine enthusiasts will be shocked by what they learn about wine making by reading this book.
The two bookends of this story, Leo McCloskey and Randall Grahm, are perfect foils and seem, for all their differences in approach, to be on the same quest.
Much of this book delves into the history of the California wine industry from the 1970s to the present.
Darlington provides a page turning peek into the personalities and motivations of several California winemakers, while illuminating the challenge in defining "what is great... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Kip Summers
Just when I thought wine making was that magical evolution from farm to glass, involving the purist artistry human interaction involving fermentation, aging, blending and bottling,... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Stuart D. Harman
Perfect contrast between artisan vine making in Santa Cruz mountains vs. following the Parker requirements in Napa with numbers drive economics.Published 19 months ago by GULDIMANN
My most important takeaway is that great wine is grown somewhere that lends it soul to the grapes, with traditional methods a winemaker then coaxes a magnificent beverage that can... Read morePublished on September 18, 2012 by Doc Vino
David Darlington's history of one generation of the California Wine Industry is a very interesting read about a time and place that's long gone in spirit, if not in years. Read morePublished on May 17, 2012 by Thom Mitchell
This is an extremely well written book, I could almost taste the wine out of the kegs and the dust in the parking lot stirred up the Mercedes' tires. Read morePublished on April 20, 2012 by Barbara Jackson
I am compelled to make a quick entry to testify to the brilliance of this book. It is a monument to great journalism, balancing accurate reporting with intelligent and perceptive... Read morePublished on March 15, 2012 by Brad Smith
An Ideal Wine by David Darlington is an inside look at the California wine industry and is an extremely interesting book. Read morePublished on February 18, 2012 by David Pruette
David Darlington writes about the California wine industry from multiple perspectives, providing an eye opening jolt to the reader. Read morePublished on February 8, 2012 by Erika Borsos