“Gracianna,” inspired by true events, has just rocked my world.
Gracianna Winery is located in Russian River Valley on Westside Road. Before this winery was built, on the land of its vineyards, sat a small home. My daughter Melanie and her winemaker husband Heath Hoffman lived on the Amador family’s property for a while. Occasionally, when my kids would leave home for road trips, I’d cat-sit and water their plants. Never, did I ever think I’d get deeper into knowing the Amador’s very early beginnings ~ especially in a way that really would rock my world, historically speaking. Also, when my husband first came to California, he worked with Lisa Amador, married to Trini Amador.
It’s all happened, and it’s a lead-in wine story of a different kind.
Many winery stories begin with someone having a passion to make wine. This one dates back to an animal husbandry lifestyle in the Basque Pyrenees Mountains, as told in a paperback copy simply called, “Gracianna.” Written by Trini Amador, it is a story of how his maternal great grandparents, John and Gracianna Lasaga, both made it from the French Basque Pyrenees to the United States. On the surface, this seems simple enough; although, having personally made it across the Rocky Mountains from Maine to California, I can tell you that any 3,000 mile exodus is never simple, enough or otherwise. There are stories in that kind of move from one place to the next that are somewhat fascinating.
Once I began reading John and Gracianna’s story, as told by Trini, I didn’t stop until I finished all 277 pages of the book, because it was more than fascinating… It was compelling… Had I started earlier in the day, I wouldn’t have had to stop to get some sleep, only to wake up and read the last 37 pages… I would have just kept going. I had my own exodus through the pages of this remarkable story of survival, determination, intrigue, and justification. I’m not going to give this book away; however, I will say this…
In the 1960 and 70s, once my formal education came to a halt – for a while – I took up reading voraciously about things of personal interest. I had periods of this and that… One of my periods was about World War II. I wanted to understand it in greater depth, since my dad was a WWII vet and never talked about the war. During those times, there were many books about Nazi Germany. Like so many of us do, I began my journey with “The Diary of Ann Frank.” Then, I read Leon Uris’ Exodus, followed by Treblinka by Jean Francois Steiner. There were a couple of others, and it ended with The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. This one was enough to end anyone’s curiosity for a while, honestly, and it did. These readings gave me more than insight. They robbed an innocence that was destined to happen, when anyone learns about Hitler’s hatred.
And, when I began reading Gracianna, I didn’t expect to return to the Rise and Fall, again; but, return I did. It was such an interesting twist, however, that I was sucked right into a vortex of excellent writing (by Trini Amador) and an unbelievable happenstance. It was she, Gracianna, that we must all thank for her role in occupied Paris. This little woman played a key, pivotal role that you must read to fully appreciate.
It’s interesting to also note that all of my reading had to do with what was going on inside of Germany. Up to this time, I had never read about other regions where the Germans were occupying outside of their immediate environment. Much of this story takes place outside of the Nazi peripheral.
As an afterthought… I’m so pleased that when Jesslyn Jackson delivered the book to me, she also brought along a bit of wine. When I finished the book, I was so thankful…. I felt like I needed a glass of wine to not only recover, but to also toast “Gracianna,” the book, the person, its author Trini, and the history of mankind as we know it. Yeah… it’s that profound.
FINAL THOUGH: If this book doesn’t become a movie, I’ll eat my hat….