Do you like wine, wine history, the Loire Valley, the Napa Valley, and a love story? This is an easy read book that is sure to please anyone who has a strong interest in wine. Janelle first spotted this book at Books, Inc. The beautiful cover (designed by Alan Jones) is what first grabbed her attention, and once she started reading, she was hooked. Janelle and I do not always have the same taste in books but once she was finished with the Vintner’s Daughter, she said “You’ll really like this book.” Sure enough, it was right up my alley. The Napa Valley is practically in our own backyard. We have been to the Loire Valley on two occasions, so the book really made a connection with our wine travels. In fact, last October in the Loire Valley, we visited a very small winemaker and grower. He had just taken over the winemaking duties from his father at Domain de Veilloux. This is just as the main character in the book wished to do.
In the Loire Valley in 1895, we are introduced to Sara Thibault, a lively and strong-willed young lady who helps her winemaker father with his Chenin Blanc vineyards near Vouvray. She develops an intense passion for wine: “Sara was born to make wine. Nothing else made sense.” Pholloxera takes hold in part of the family vineyard and the main wine merchant rates the wine poorly, hoping that he can drive the family into debt and then buy the land cheaply. A double tragedy ensues, and Sara and her sister Lydia flee to New York and experience the difficult life of immigrants in turn-of-the-century Manhattan. Sara does everything in her power to make her way to the Napa Valley and pursue her dream of making wine. She’s destined to cross paths with her old neighbor, Philippe Lemieux, who has also come to the Napa Valley to become a winemaker. Love is in the air, but Sara’s past comes back to haunt her.
I enjoyed reading about the winemaking and vineyard issues. Many are the same as they are today. There are problems with workers, buyers, vine pests, and trade issues. The vineyards that Sara gets involved with in the Napa Valley are actually in Carneros. I checked the Carneros Association Website and indeed there were vineyards in Carneros at that time. Bouchaine Vineyards in Carneros has vineyards that date back to the late 1800’s.
The author, Kristen Harnisch, will soon publish a sequel entitled, “The California Wife.” Kristen indicated in an email that she’s available to Skype book club members who read her books. “The Vintner’s Daughter” is available at Amazon for about $14. Check this link to Amazon: