From Publishers Weekly
Chronicling the first years Kaplan and her husband owned and ran Panther Creek, a winery in Oregon's Willamette Valley, this book is as sweetly tart as a pinot noir grape and just as likely to appeal to oenophiles. A wine novice and new empty-nester in Iowa, Kaplan was suddenly thrust into the wine-making world when her husband left his lucrative law practice and bought Panther Creek. As Kaplan soon learns, making wine is not easy, and the learning curve is steep. Her insiders guide to the industry-describing the rigor of the harvest, the dangerous guessing game that is fermentation and the endless salesmanship wrapped up in hosting wine tastings and wine dinners and entering wine contests-is an unflinching look at a difficult job. She also offers many sidebars with useful information about wine (e.g., why latitude matters when making wine; how to organize a wine tasting), though some readers, particularly the wine savvy, may be skeptical initially of taking advice from someone who stumbled into the business armed with Wine for Dummies. While Kaplan sometimes seems too much like a "trailer" (a woman following her husband on his dream) and one never gets the feeling that the couple, who at one point cruise the Oregon countryside in their Miata, were ever in dire financial straits, this is still a warm, behind-the-scenes look at the wine business and an inspiring tale of a couple starting over midlife. Photos.
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My First Crush is a delicious book, not unlike the suave Pinot Noirs the Kaplans craft at Panther Creek. It’s provocative, understated and witty, with layers of complexity hiding just beneath the surface...Kaplan’s considerable wit shines throughout My First Crush. [It] is one of the best accounts written about life in the Oregon wine industry.
Andy Perdue, Wine Press Northwest, Summer 2005 issue
If you've ever had a fantasy about starting a completely new life in a completely new place (and who hasn't?), you'll love My First Crush. Linda Kaplan gives us a taste of the romantic dream of owning a winery as well as its messy, sticky reality. She shares her successes, her failures and a few of her own slightly wacky schemes. For instance, who knew that falconry was one of the skills a winemaker needed to master? Well, Linda thought so. I suggest you uncork a bottle of Panther Creek Pinot Noir, pour yourself a glass, pull your best reading chair into a sunny spot and savor the fruits of Linda's labors, both this book and her wine. You'll be glad she did all the work and you can just sit back and enjoy. I am making this book required reading for all my friends who start a conversation with the phrase "You know what I am really dying to do one day..." They'll be both inspired and forewarned.
Co-Host, Satellite Sisters Radio
Co-Author, Satellite Sisters Uncommon Senses
"...fresh squeezed..."--Portland Oregonian
"...a delicious book...it's provocative, understated and witty, with layers of complexity hiding just beneath the surface...one of the best accounts written about life in the Oregon wine industry."--Tri-City Herald
"...informative, well-written, and deeply personal..."--Library Journal
"...[a] humble, humorous acount..."--Register-Guard
"Well written and highly entertaining, this memoir not only shares a little of the angst associated with relocation and a major career change but also delves into wine making. Without becoming overly technical, Kaplan shares what she's learned about the vintner's craft in an amusing and interesting manner."--Coast Impressions
"...[Kaplan's] account is amusing and easy to read..."--Wine East
Giving up a profession is rather easier than finding a satisfying occupation to take its place, but Ron and Linda Kaplan abandoned a stable, predictable life in Des Moines for the uncertainties of winemaking in the Willamette valley. Linda tells her story in an endearing way, with a strong, personal voice, not the least of qualities needed as her family negotiated the transition from one lifestyle to another. There's not only lots of wit and imaginative writing in MY FIRST CRUSH, but also practical tips about enjoying wine and having fun at the kitchen stove. Linda and Ron are a Renaissance couple who have shown its possible to live life twice over.
Anne Willan, author and founder of la Varenne Cooking School.