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To Burgundy and Back Again: A Tale Of Wine, France, And Brotherhood Paperback – June 1, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Globe Pequot Press; 5.2.2011 edition (June 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762764554
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762764556
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,041,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Savvy oenophiles may recognize the author as the proprietor of Vintage '59, a local wine import shop specializing in the best of the French vignerons. This charming chronicle of his first foray to France as a buyer for a newly launched import business finds an eager and trepidatious Cloud with a few tricks up his sleeve: an excellent palate and sound connections, thanks to his time employed at MacArthur Liquors and his older brother, Joe, who was living in France. Did we mention that Roy didn't speak any French? That's just one of the challenges in store for those willing to follow the Cloud brothers around the French countryside over 12 days that would forever alter their lives." --Christoper Schoppa, The Washington Post
“Geography, history and viticulture lessons abound in this buoyant tale of brotherhood and Bordeaux. With New World vigor, debut author Cloud invites the reader into the intimate spaces of wine importing with one of the oldest schools in the book—the vignerons of France. . . . The book is rich in detail, knowledge and even a bit of wisdom, which . . . leaves the reader  . . . craving another taste, but thrilled at the fortune of experiencing such a wonderful ride.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Cloud’s account clips along with ease, including passages of lush, expressive language that shapes the idyllic beauty of the French countryside as well as the unending potential of a fine wine. Readers will relish his experience, and those who love wine will ache to tour the country themselves or, at the least, wander down the French wine aisle to unearth a great bottle of their own.”


"the antidote to Sideways . . . Roy Cloud's gentle, heart-warming account of his French wine initiation is deliciously readable and full of insights." --Andrew Jefford, author of The New France


From the Back Cover

“An engaging memoir.”—Gerald Asher, author of Vineyard Tales and former wine columnist for Gourmet magazine

How one man’s wine-tasting tour of France became a story of discovery, adventure, and brotherhood
Roy Cloud had worked in the wine business for years, watching it transform from a retail backwater to a mainstream fixation, with a huge influx of consumers looking for wine with terroir. By a twist of fate, he found himself on a hurriedly arranged trip to France to persuade small-scale winemaking farms that he should represent their interests in the growing U.S. import market. While Roy’s palate would be challenged in finding the hidden gems of the Loire Valley and Burgundy, his real dilemma was this: He didn’t speak a word of French.

Enter Joe, Roy’s older brother. Different from Roy in every respect, Joe had studied in France and was fluent in the language—and, most importantly, he was free to join Roy in his search. It was simple: Roy would do the tasting, and Joe would do the talking. What could go wrong?

In To Burgundy and Back Again, Roy presents a richly evocative account of their journey—one replete with discovery, adventure, and poignant surprises. Written in the tradition of A Year in Provence and Sideways, this elegantly penned book will delight wine lovers and armchair travelers alike.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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See all 15 customer reviews
His writing is honest with a strong voice and rich descriptions.
Woven into this wine journey is a touching family history that also teaches us something about how wine connects us to larger life experiences.
All in all this was an informative book and I recommend it be read by anyone contemplating a trip to the wine country of France.
Vivian E. van Dijk

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Chambolle VINE VOICE on May 12, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For more than a decade now, I've been making my own annual pilgrimage to France for a few weeks of morning noon and night tasting, traipsing from one domaine to the other hour after hour, grabbing a quick bite on the road and rushing off for more swirling and spitting in search of new sources of wine for import to the US, or just to reconnect with well known growers and their wines. Roy Cloud has captured the manic essence of that experience with wit, charm and insightful discussion of some of the wines he's found and the winemakers he has met along the way. The book recounts Cloud's first trip to France to put togther a portfolio of wines for his importer/employer, with his French-speaking brother along to act as interpreter - and as foil. Woven into the tale of his travels in Burgundy, the Loire and the Rhone is the story of Cloud's own family - a strong willed, independent father who is laid low by a terrible bicycling accident on his own trip to France; his brother's traumatic divorce and breakaway to a new life; his own formation of an independent wine importer called Vintage 59.

I blasted through the book during my morning and afternoon commute, and thence into the evening - this is a book that's hard to put down until it's done. Unlike recent and disappointing disasters like Kathryn Borel's miserable, narcissistic and sophmorically artsy "Corked" - which has nothing at all to say about wine (or anything else of substance); or Neal Rosenthal's somewhat mean-spirited, self-congratulatory "Confessions of a Wine Merchant," this book conveys the exhilaration of traveling and tasting in France -- unencumbered by the scrivener's overweening ego and neuroses. It is unabashedly and honestly exactly what the subtitle says - "a tale of wine, France and brotherhood.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By James L. Srodes on July 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
I confess a double prejudice: I love a well-written story about complex relationships. And I love the complex variety of the wines of Burgundy. So I was predisposed to like To Burgundy and Back Again; but I was surprised to find that not only did I thoroughly enjoy the accessibly conversational writing style, but I find I now keep the book with my stack of other wine guides as a ready reference work for planning a meal. The storyline of two brothers on a journey of mutual discovery is warming without being cloying and the back story about the evolution of wine drinking (and buying) here in America is (you should pardon the expression ) food for thought. This book is a lot like Burgundy itself, something to be savored.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By SadieLady50 on September 7, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reading Roy Cloud's To Burgundy and Back Again is like drinking a complex, aromatic, tangy, crisp, luscious glass of wine, with a long after taste. The book takes you on his journey to find vignerons and gives you a multi-faceted dose of history, geology, family, viticulture, literature, cuisine, travel and economics. Roy sets out on his quest to identify and "sign up" a few exceptional artisanal vignerons - the French grower and wine maker, who own and work their own vineyards, that have been handed down through the generations. What is important to Roy must also be important for the vigneron, "le vins est toujours la vie." Wine is always life.

Roy's experience, personality, family background, education and training have combined to make him a perfect match for this task. Not. He does not speak French; the timing of the trip was hasty and stressful; he lacks some of the most basic knowledge of French culture, and he's never even eaten a snail. But, perhaps because of those characteristics and a good bit of luck, Roy, and his brother, Joe, wind their way through French wine country making contacts with some exceptional wineries, who ultimately become his own suppliers for Vintage '59.

His writing is honest with a strong voice and rich descriptions. He is insightful, funny, informative, but above all, fascinating. I was on this trip with them from the first page, following along, much like Roy describes being the places that Hemingway, Fitzgerald, MFK Fisher, Thomas Jefferson, even Julius Caesar journeyed before.

Will I ever be able to taste a glass of wine without thinking if it could match this description?

"It was the ...., whose perfume was too young to be haunting but not too old to be heavenly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gamine on August 2, 2011
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Once in awhile a book comes along that has all the right stuff, the full complement of all the elements of good literature. But then it also has that certain something; that can't put it down, read it into the morning hours, don't want it to end element. To Burgandy and Back Again is that book.

Roy Cloud has done a masterful job of engrossing the reader in his warm relationship with his brother and tragically injured father, in the charm of travels in France including just the right amount of pertinent geography and well researched history, in his passion for artisanal French wine and fond regard for the growers who craft it, and in the art and science of bio dynamic wine production.

This all too quick read leaves the reader with both a taste for more books from author Cloud, and desire to taste the very Vintage 59 selections he describes so vividly. Having succumbed to the lure of those descriptions more than a few times now, I can testify to their accuracy... Roy Cloud knows wine as well as writing.

Also....the only response to Len's utterly mystifying criticism, encountered, ironically, when on line ordering extra copies of the book for friends is...Really? I cannot imagine that we could have read the same book. To each his own, but it would be a shame if a potential reader took that strange analysis to heart and missed this very charming memoir.
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