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Grape Expectations by Caro Feely
Published in the UK in June 2012 by Summersdale
Published in USA/Canada October 2013
Rating: 3 Stars
When Caro Feely and her husband Sean stumble on a run-down vineyard in the Dordogne, they think it’s their dream come true: Finally! A chance to leave the rat race behind and fulfill their dream.
Unfortunately, they find they have traded proverbial rats for actual mice. Add to that archaic plumbing, unreliable equipment and the kilometres of red tape that is the French vineyard system. Still, they are determined to make a success of it, not matter how much cherry chocolate Caro has to eat to maintain her endorphin levels.
Grape Expectations is part memoir, part treatise on winemaking, part cautionary tale. Be careful when you follow your dreams. They might just come true, even if you haven’t quote realized it.
When offered a chance to host a guest post from Caro, I immediately wanted to know her favourite books on wine and winemaking. She was kind enough to oblige.
Caro Feely is author of ‘Grape Expectations’, a book launching in the USA and Canada on 1 October 2013 described as a ‘beautifully written tale of passion, caution, guts’ by Alice Fearing, a New York wine writer and author. Caro is a certified wine educator and professional with many years of experience with multinational companies and now winemaker with eight years hands-on experience on the organic vineyard owned jointly with her husband Sean. She offers wine tours in the Bordeaux region and wine courses at the certified wine school on their organic farm. Caro offers us a peek into some of the books she recommends on her wine school book shelf.
These four books offer an entertaining read with depth. You’ll learn about wine without realising it.
The Battle for Wine and Love: Alice Fearing (Author) . A mix of anecdotes and interesting people in the wine world with a good dose of why natural wine is good by sometime New York Times Wine Writer Alice Fearing.
Red, White, and Drunk All Over: Nathalie MacLean (Author). A voyage of stories about wine both old and new; some very amusing. I loved it, Sean didn’t enjoy it so much: perhaps more of a ‘chick book’.
The Billionaire’s Vinegar: Benjamin Wallace (Author). An investigative journalist delves into the world of auctions for fine wines… a page-turning and well written exposé.
Wine and War :The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France’s Greatest Treasure : Donald Kladstrup and Petie Kladstrup (Authors). A fascinating journey into wartime France and the characters that helped to save some of France’s treasure.
Two books that provided me with great insight into the rise of wine in the US over the last 50 years and a very interesting look into two larger than life wine personalities.
The Emperor of Wine; The Rise of Robert M. Parker Jnr: Elin McCoy (Author). This is a fascinating picture of how Robert Parker rose to become the most powerful wine critic in the world and the effect that he has had on the wine world.
The House of Mondavi: Julia Flynn Siler (Author). This book includes family feuds that make ‘Dallas’ look tame but makes for intriguing reading into how Robert Mondavi built his winery and how he eventually lost it.
Another wine personality biography I enjoyed was The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It : Tilar J. Mazzeo (Author)‘. This is a gripping story that takes you through important eras of France’s history like the revolution via the story of a great woman who turned the female norms of the day on their head.
In the genre of Grape Expectations one of my favourite books is Ferenc Maté’s A Vineyard in Tuscany: A Wine Lover’s Dream. I laughed out loud and thoroughly enjoyed this book about Ferenc and his wife Candace taking on their Tuscan dream.
Off the vineyard and wine theme but offering similar enjoyment for Francophiles is Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard (published in the UK by Summersdale also my publisher).
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Synopsis of Grape Expectations:
Filled with vivid descriptions of delicious wines, great food, and stunning views, this is a unique insight into the world of the winemaker, and a story of passion, dedication, and love
When Caro and Sean find the perfect 10-hectare vineyard in Saussignac, it seems like their dreams of becoming winemakers in the south of France are about to come true. But they arrive in France with their young family (a toddler and a newborn) to be faced with a dilapidated 18th-century farmhouse and an enterprise that may never, ever make them a living. Undeterred by mouse infestations, a leaking roof, treacherous hordes of insects, visits from the local farm “police,” and a nasty accident with an agricultural trimmer, Caro and Sean set about transforming their “beyond eccentric” winery into a successful business as they embark on the biggest adventure of their lives—learning to make wine from the roots up.
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher Link: http://www.ipgbook.com/grape-expectations-products-9781849532570.php?page_id=21
Available in bookstores across the country as well as at online retailers.
“Apart from smoking on the fire escape at school – don’t tell my parents – I was a co-founder of the first magazine published by students which covered chocolate obsessions, and the funny, eccentric and bizarre things that happen at girls only boarding schools.
After university I wrote intermittent articles for newspapers and magazines related to my career in IT consulting. I started writing books in earnest Dublin in 2003 while on maternity leave but it took a gift of Maeve Binchy’s ‘writers club’ from my husband Sean to get my first published book Grape Expectations into good enough shape to attract a publisher – Summersdale – to whom I am eternally grateful for lifting me from the slush pile.” [from the author's website]
Get in touch with the author:
Books: ‘Grape Expectations’ at http://www.carofeely.com/books.html
Certified organic biodynamic wines: http://www.terroirfeely.com | http://www.feelywines.com
Award winning tours: http://www.frenchwineadventures.com
Luxury eco gites: http://www.luxurydordognegites.com
Twitter: @carofeely | http://www.facebook.com/terroirfeely
(USA/Canada only, sorry international folks.)