Each year, I get to expand my wine book library, from the best of the last 12 months of publishing. Reading is a passion, as is sharing, or this blog wouldn’t exist.

I’m going to alphabetically list what I’ve enjoyed this past year, and why I enjoyed each book. Perhaps you’ll find something you’d like give a loved one, or perhaps even have for yourself.

A Companion to California Wine, an Encyclopedia of Wine and Winemaking from the Mission Period to the Present, by Charles Sullivan

Charles Sullivan is one of the most important wine historians of our time.  This book was published in 1998 (not recently), and although it’s an older book, if you or someone you know loves wine and has any interest in California’s wine history, this is one of the most important books to have in a library. An intense body of work, it would (and did) take someone with Charles’s intelligence to pull this one off. Can you say Mensa, boys and girls?

My favorite memory of Charles and his wife Ros was staying with them at their home for an over-night of wining and dining, and a lingering cigar on a front porch… Listening to his life’s tales… Buy the book, you’ll get it.

Georgian Wine Guide (2012), by Malkhaz Kharbedia

This book came to me in a very unexpected way. I was asked to give a lecture to The SABIT (Special American Business Internship Training) Program’s Wine Marketing and Promotion session. They were seeking information on innovations and trends in marketing, promotion, and general management practices.

I addressed wine festivals, educational and industry organizations, marketing and social media trends, and marketing and promotion for smaller producers. What I found to be fascinating, which differs from our US marketing style, is that wineries in the Eurasian region of Europe do not embrace collective marketing. It’s a foreign idea to them. I stressed, however, that collective marketing moves any concept forward with great speed.

At the end of this lecture, I was presented this book for reading. Anyone interested in the original seeds of viticulture, you need to get your hands on this book. Written in both languages, simultaneously – the top of the page is Georgian, and the bottom of the page is in English – there’s a tremendous sense of urgency. Malkhaz wants his readers to understand that winemaking for his people is as old as it possibly gets. Georgians no longer want to be the forgotten winemakers; they’re the historical ones. Being held back by Soviet rule has not allowed for them to develop as marketers. Telling their story is not as easy as it is for Americans, who have been “free” to do so, since we created our Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, and our Constitution… It’s a wonderful read, and makes an adventurer want to pack her or his bags…

How to Import Wine, by Deborah Gray

Wine importer Deborah M. Gray has written the book on importing, literally: How To Import Wine. I’ve read it; and honestly, if anyone wants to understand how to import into the US, this book is a MUST READ.

I wish I had read this one earlier in my career, before I had to learn a lot of the lessons in this book the hard way. Deborah’s easy reading style, and her sharing all that she learned in her importing career, makes this the most valuable tool in anyone’s tool box, who would be considering importing. I’ve watched someone just starting out, someone who knew that he loved wine, but had never sold it, ever, and worse yet, had no wholesale relationships, even in his own neighborhood… Painful, is all I can say, to watch.

Avoid the pain, buy the book…

Kevin Zraly’s Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, by Kevin Zraley

I’ve been in the wine business for almost 20 years now. The one thing I’ve learned is how little I still know. There’s always room for growth in this business, always so much to learn. It’s not like learning the multiplication tables; once you’ve memorized it, it serves you well for the rest of your life. Nay… knowing wine is an ever expansive and evolving journey, and Kevin Zraly’s Windows on the World Complete Wine Course is a Shinkansen train, which will get you from here to there faster than any other land vehicle.

This book is not only a great starter for someone wanting to know as much as possible about wine, but it’s also a great refresher course, I’ve found. It’s a must read book for all of us along our wine journey, because it’s so enriching…

The Curious World of Wine, facts, legends, and lore about the drink we love so much, by Richard Vine, PhD

This one is the most fun book of the year. Loaded with facts and legends that are in quick sound bits, this is a necessity for anyone loving wine, and more importantly… anyone writing about wine. Why? Because the soundbites will inspire you, regardless of why you’re reading it.

For consumers, each bit of knowledge will pique your curiosity, encouraging you to step outside of your established boundaries… You’ll expand like a lotus.

For consumers, the same expanding will occur, but it will be a public thing… For instance, any page, open up the book. For me right now, it’s page 72… Miracle Wine of the Berncasteler Doctor..

WINE IS GOOD FOR YOU example: “Unlike the many doctors who own wine estates in Germany, the Berncasteler Doctor is a vineyard, not a physician. The story goes that in 1360 Herr Ritter von Hunolstein offered a bottle of wine grown from his vines in Bercastle township to his personal friend Archbishop Boemund. The prelate lay gravely ill in the ancient Roman city of Trier. Boemund was grateful for this thoughtful gesture and eagerly drank his friend’s wine, assuming it to be one of his last earthly pleasures. The next day he awakened from his deathbed with vitality, gesturing to the fateful bottle and proclaiming, ‘This splendid *doctor* cured me!'”

This is how the vineyard got its name….

The EVERYTHING Guide to Wine, by Peter Alig.

I was delighted to read this very thorough book, and I also personally learned a lot in the process. The author, Peter Alig, is a Robert Mondavi wine educator, as was I in days gone by. My experience with the Mondavi crew is that they’re an extremely knowledgeable group of people; and, I now easily see why Peter was hired. Wine educators take people on wine tours at the winery, and this book’s back page calls it “A guided tour through the world of wine.” This is the best explanation of this book. For anyone just beginning to write about and/or enjoy wine, most especially if you’ve never been able to get to any wine country, this book gets you there in a hurry.

It’s a SUPER book for both beginners and for those who what to brush up on their wine trivia knowledge.

The New York Times Book of Wine: More Than 30 Years of Vintage Writing, by Howard G. Goldberg

As the cover reads, with “More Than 30 Years of Vintage Writing” from authors of the New York Times, the magnitude of this anthology is superlative… period. Imagine gathering The New York Times wine writers’ best works in one place, and then compiling their stories into one volume… Someone did, and that’s what The New York Times Book of Wine is all about. This anthology for wine was edited by Howard G. Goldberg and the forward was written by Eric Asimov, two of the brightest shining stars in the wine writing world. NYT wine writers over the years, included in this tome of wine musings, are the following as they appear in the stories from beginning to end:

Eric Asimov Alex Witchel Corie Brown
Frank J. Prial Jen Lin-Liu Patricia Leigh Brown
Florence Fabricant Evan Rail Barry Bearak
R.W. Apple, Jr. Julia Lawlor John Tagliabue
William Grimes Nicholas Wade Liz Alderman
Frank Bruni John Noble Wilford Sarah Kershaw
Terry Robards Pam Belluck Roger Cohen
William Grimes Jesse McKinley Warren St. John
Harold McGee & Daniel Patterson Kirk Semple & Jeffery E. Singer Howard Goldberg

It’s a great book to have for quick snippets of all things wine. A fun read on the subway, in a plane, or on a train… (I feel like Dr. Seuss is smiling down on me, but you get the point.)

The Wine & Beer Maker’s Year, 75 Recipes for Homemade Beer and Wine Using Seasonal Ingredients, by Roy Ekins

Not all of us live in wine country; still, the drive to make wine and/or beer is a passion for many… There are those among us who love food science. I had a grandfather with a passion for making root beer, because that’s the only beer my grandmother (who lived through Prohibition) would allow for him to make… until… his last batch exploded in (and all over) the basement of their home. (He had a private bottle of nip that he kept hidden in the basement, my grandmother would find it, and rehide it. He died on December 3, 1963. My grandmother found his bottle in a plugged up drain in April 1964… He got his last nip/laugh…)

Meanwhile, back to this great little book. Interested in making wine as the ancients did, with whatever was available in any given location, besides wine country? And, let me be clear, there are also those in wine country who still love a great fruit wine, and are still crafting them. My Oak Knoll boys are making it in Oregon. When the original owner got going as a pioneer in Oregon, that’s all that was available at the time… fruit like blackberries and raspberries. To this day, not only do they love making fruit wines, but people are buying those wines, too, or they’d not be making them.

Elderberry wine, have you ever heard of it? It was a sensation when I was living in Maine. Silver Birch… tap the tree (like maple syrup), gathering your most important ingredient. Rose hips, one of my favorite teas, now make it into wine. The same can be said of fruit within this book… Make them into wines or teas, and release the creative scientist from within you, then drink your nectar. I love this book!

The Complete Guide: Wines of the Southern Hemisphere, by Mike Desimone & Jeff Jenssen

Wines of the Southern Hemisphere is an amazing gift. To have this book for my wine library is a tremendous resource; and, making the time to read it delivered even more gifts.

Written by Mike Desimone & Jeff Jenssen, two very savvy World Wine Guys who are wine, spirits, food, and travel writers, have gone around the world and are now sharing those adventures. Their gathered stories are warm and very informative, sharing much of what they learned in this very thorough book. Representing each region well, they also present it in such a way that the only thing left to satisfy is your own personal curiosity through adventures you need to start planning….

My favorite section was Chile. Perhaps it’s because I was part of the Wines of Chile Blogger Tasting led by Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer, and enjoying those wine immensely. It was very enlightening about this wine grape growing country, with the book connecting me on a much deeper level with that recent wine exposure.

A book to give away, just be the first one to send an Email to me (jo@diaz-communications.com) and I’ll gift this book to you:

The Finest Wines of California, by Stephen Brook

A fine accomplishment by author Stephen Brook, his introduction is filled with terroir, history, culture and viticulture, varieties and winemaking styles…

Contained within is a list of who’s who, and each vintner’s history… successes and failures along the trail to establishing success over the years. It’s an intimate look into each vintner’s life, and how each fits into the history of California that’s made this state become a world-class wine growing and making region.

The cast of the finest producers and their wines helps to chronicle California’s stepping onto the world stage… all by their meticulous winemaking styles. There are no commodity characters in this book, just real stars whose hard work and dedication have given California its new world class reputation…. From Jacob Schram to Robert Mondavi, to Joel Peterson… each fine wine producer has created the finest of wines of California, and your wine lover will thank you over-and-over again for this scholarly body of work.



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