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A Vineyard in Tuscany: A Wine Lover's Dream [Kindle Edition]

Ferenc Máté
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)

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Book Description

"A sun-drenched memoir with a fairy-tale ending."—Kirkus Reviews

In this laugh-out-loud tale, two adventurers discover that rare combination: joy and success. Candace, a painter, and Ferenc, a writer, begin a new life near the hill town of Montalcino. They restore a thirteenth-century friary, plant fifteen acres of vines, build a winery, tame a runaway tractor, excavate an Etruscan village, and battle volcanic fermenting vats, while learning from famous vintner neighbor Angelo Gaja the secrets of growing the best grapes and making superb, award-winning wine. This extraordinary tale will enrich the lives of travelers and wine lovers alike. A New York Times Book Review 2007 Notable Travel Book.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hungarian-Canadian author and sailor Máté (The Hills of Tuscany) recounts in wry, candid detail how he rebuilt a Tuscan ruin into a world-class winery. Living in Tuscany with his artist wife and son while savoring the landscape, food and pleasant neighbors wasn't enough for Máté, who admits he thrives on adversity. He wanted his own castle and finagles the purchase of a 13th-century friary in Montalcino, with a proper forno (oven), a forest crammed with porcini and 60 acres of land—15 of which he fashions over three hard years of work into a vineyard sprouting robust harvests of Sangiovese, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and Syrah grapes. His diary of sorts regales the reader on the process of restoring the ancient ruin, called La Colombaio: first by detailing how an Etruscan house was constructed, then by observing how the various workmen were hired (and what they ate for lunch). While hacking in the forest, he finds the remains of a 3,000-year-old city, inviting the interest of archeologists. Máté breaks from the construction and excavation for treks through the Dolomites before returning to prepare for the toilsome but ultimately satisfying vendemmia (harvest). (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Muscular Paul Bunyan on a Tuscan holiday...robust, determined. Mate has created a wine in his own image. -- The New Yorker

Rare among expat memoirists: Mate writes well, he's funny and he makes serious wine, consistently scoring in the low 90s. -- Wine Spectator

Readers share a feeling of accomplishment and pride when their Syrah is one of the great Italian reds by Morrell's. -- New York Times Book Review

Tales that inspire the soul. A wry, winning account of the difficult transformation of their long-shot dreams into reality. -- Seattle Post Intelligencer

Product Details

  • File Size: 382 KB
  • Print Length: 282 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0920256589
  • Publisher: Albatross; Reprint edition (November 17, 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004HW6AC4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #341,146 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
There is something both exhilarating and heartwarming reading the exploits of an author who lives and ultimately accomplishes his dream. The story becomes even more uplifting when his or her aspirations can be shared by readers who have experienced the joys described in the adventure. Ferenc Máté had a dream to move to Tuscany, own a vineyard and produce award-winning wine. A VINEYARD IN TUSCANY is the story of how he and his wife accomplished that goal. For anyone who has visited the beautiful province described in his glorious prose and partaken of the wines produced in its vineyards, this book is to be savored and enjoyed, just like a fine Chianti or other exquisite wine of the region.

Of course one does not just decide on a whim that a Tuscan vineyard is their life ambition. Máté sets the scene for readers by describing in beautiful detail his family life in Italy. He and his wife Candace, a painter, had purchased and restored a small villa in Tuscany called La Marinaia (an apt name for property owned by Máté, who has written several books with nautical themes). While he loved the property, the two acres of land were far too small to allow him to fulfill his dream: the production of a world-class wine with his name on the label. An undertaking such as this requires far more than growing grapes. Italian winemakers toil on the land where their grapes are produced and attend to each and every aspect of the wine production. The end product is the result of personal blood, sweat and tears.

A VINEYARD IN TUSCANY details Máté's search for precisely the right piece of property on which to produce his wine. But the property is but one of many required pieces of the dream.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Depends on your expectation June 19, 2008
Based on the other reviews, I had high hopes for this book; I expected a more thorough story of his experience starting his own vineyard, people he had interacted with and the "terrior" of his vineyard embedded with light-hearted anecdotes. Instead, I found the details lacking. Little time is spent on the characters who appeared in the book, the restoration of the estate, planting and cultivating of the vineyard, wine-making decisions, and his (and his family's) tie to the place. The fact that this book is written in many short chapters averaging less than 10 pages each should have been the first sign. I do not doubt that Mr. Mate will be an interesting guy to have a drink with, and I am sure that he has many interesting stories to tell. But after reading this book, I get a feeling that this is a tale of a wealthy individual (despite his repetitive mentioning of being/getting poor as a result of this endeavor) who spent his way to have people make great wines from a land he has purchased. While this statement may not do him justice, and perhaps that is what this book is meant to be, but more on the people, more on the place, more on his (or the wine maker/consultant's) philosophy of how to cultivate the land and make a great wine will greatly improve the book.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not the real essence of life in Toscana December 14, 2008
By Elisa
After enjoying Sig. Mate's first book , I was quite delighted to see the new one. However I must say it was disappointing, to say the least. He has become the Frances Mayes of Montalcino! Although he did recognize the many people who came to his aid for the house and vineyard, I really grew bored hearing about the Banfi and Gaja and all the people who really aren't the norm in Toscana.
And everything so perfect. From the porcini in the forest to the century old resources for his home. Che noioso!
I am happy for the success of the wine but with his circumstances including location and wealth, who couldn't have done it!
Perhaps someday he will find the real essence of Tuscany and see how we really enjoy our lives and our friends and family.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-written, hilarious story! November 29, 2007
This book is really a journal describing a personal quest rather than a manual on how to build a vineyard, although that is what happens. The author's self-deprecating sense of humor is key as he describes the sometimes absurd challenges he and his family faced renovating an ancient "ruin" into a functioning home complete with a world-class vineyard. His love of Tuscany is demonstrated throughout by the charming descriptions of the people he encounters. The evident quality of the wine they ultimately produced (I haven't tried it yet, but hope to) makes me wish there was even more detail about how they did it, but this story is more about the journey than the final, bottled result. Great book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring! February 7, 2008
This book is inspiring. It makes you want to go out and chase that elusive and audacious dream--the dream the rationale part of your brain says will never fly. What Ferenc and his wife Candace did (creating a winery from scratch in the heart of Italian wine country!) was incredibly gutsy...and just plain crazy! But they made it work, producing highly rated wines, and had a hell of a good time while they were at it. I loved the book so much I ordered some bottles directly from the Mate's web site. I received lovely replies from both Mates. These are real people, working a real vineyard (and not some factory-run mockery of a winery). I'd love to shake their grape and soil stained hands. And now I'm going to go tell my wife about that dream I have of...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Nice
Reads like you are walking through the Italian Countryside!
Published 1 month ago by Kathleen
5.0 out of 5 stars Mate's Winery.
A great fun read, full of humor and light moments mixed with some high drama. I read it while in Montalcino and the book is very true to form describing the landscape, slow pace of... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Garfield
2.0 out of 5 stars a good travelogue but really difficult to stay with him...
I bought the book because of the subject matter...a couple decides to buy property in a lovely area, and refurbish a ruin....what a great story it could be, right? Read more
Published 3 months ago by brian
5.0 out of 5 stars The real Italy
I read this prior to my first trip to Italy, and it was perfect as we visited a small vineyard. The writing is informational but fun.
Published 3 months ago by rob coonan
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book!
This was not a book that I would normally pick to read, but it was chosen to read for a book club. I was pleasantly surprised. It was interesting, funny and easy to read. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Hyun K.
5.0 out of 5 stars read Mate and enjoy!
If you're looking for a warm, well-written inside look at life in Tuscany, Ferenc Mate is the writer for you.
Published 6 months ago by St Paulite
5.0 out of 5 stars Any intelligent person's answer to reality
Written with humor and aplomb as a follow up to a previous books. Ferenc Mate has a perfect way to describe the civic, and cultural habits of present day beaureaucratic Italians as... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Michael Munters
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
The author is just so down to earth and easy to read. The content is always interesting and entertaining. Read more
Published 10 months ago by jerry
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and warm...
excellent story teller...humor abounds..I do not read in this genre often...but this one rocks...Mate is an accomplished writer and humorist
Published 12 months ago by Dale
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
Two impressions: These people have pockets so deep they not only rebuilt this ancient compound from the ground up, with the restoration impeccable in every detail, yet they still... Read more
Published 13 months ago by ChrisB
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More About the Author

Ferenc Máté was born in Hungary and escaped after the revolution at the age of eleven. He grew up in Vancouver, and has lived in California, Paris, the Bahamas and New York. He had worked on a railroad extra-gang and as a boatbuilder, photographer, deckhand and book editor. His many books include the nautical bestsellers "From a Bare Hull," "Shipshape," and "The World's Best Sailboats," as well as the acclaimed "Autumn," "A New England Autumn," "A Reasonable Life," "The Hills of Tuscany," "The Wisdom of Tuscany," and the Dugger/Nello series of high seas adventures. He and his family run their vineyards and winery in Montalcino, Tuscany.


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