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A Vineyard in Tuscany: A Wine Lover's Dream Paperback – November 17, 2008

77 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Tuscan Trilogy Series

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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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


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

Readers share a feeling of accomplishment and pride when their Syrah is voted 'Italian Red Wine of the Year' by Morrell. -- The New York Times Book Review

These are the tales that inspire the soul. -- Seattle Post Intelligencer

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Albatross; Reprint edition (November 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0920256589
  • ISBN-13: 978-0920256589
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #957,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
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 By Elisa on December 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
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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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Just Another Reader on June 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
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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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By J. Sherman on November 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
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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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Joycemarie Dittemore on January 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
To all those who yearn to live in Tuscany, own a vineyard and become wine-makers in Tuscany, or simply bona fide wine lovers, who enjoy the finished product: don't miss reading A VINEYARD IN TUSCANY by Ferenc Màté. This is the rollicking and sometimes poignant story, which shoves romanticism aside and gets down to the nitty-gritty = HOW TO DO IT! Candace and Ferenc Màté are the new kids on the block by Tuscan vintner standards; but the age-old makers of Brunello di Montalcino can only smile at their neighbours while welcoming them to the brotherhood.

Just to set the record straight: Candace is the brain and Ferenc is the brawn behind the Màté Vineyards...(va bene, let's give Ferenc credit for spawning the original dream of wanting to own a vineyard.) Màté describes their adventures, which include the search for the perfect land for planting vines; restoration of an ancient friary, "IL COLOMBAIO" which becomes their home, installation of the vineyard, and finally making their own wine.

WOMEN WINE-MAKERS REJOICE!! Candace Màté is your patron saint! Interestingly enough, it is F. Màté's wife Candace, who has always been the steady hand at the helm and the one who gives birth to the dream. Candace Màté did the wine-making R & D, finished a 2 year course in Rome, and is now a certified sommelier. She tended, nursed, pampered, soothed their wine and finally MARKETED the Màté label! And if excellent chef, and fantastic Mom to their son Peter don't suffice, she is also a talented artist! When you buy your first bottles of Mantus, Banditone, Albatro, or Màté Brunello di Montalcino, please note her sensuous paintings which became the labels.
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