The Wild Vine: A Forgotten Grape and the Untold Story of American Wine

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Broadway Paperbacks, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 280 pages
2 Reviews
A rich romp through untold American history featuring fabulous characters, The Wild Vine is the tale of a little-known American grape that rocked the fine-wine world of the nineteenth century and is poised to do so again today.


Author Todd Kliman sets out on an epic quest to unravel the mystery behind Norton, a grape used to make a Missouri wine that claimed a prestigious gold medal at an international exhibition in Vienna in 1873. At a time when the vineyards of France were being ravaged by phylloxera, this grape seemed to promise a bright future for a truly American brand of wine-making, earthy and wild. And then Norton all but vanished. What happened?
     The narrative begins more than a hundred years before California wines were thought to have put America on the map as a wine-making nation and weaves together the lives of a fascinating cast of renegades. We encounter the suicidal Dr. Daniel Norton, tinkering in his experimental garden in 1820s Richmond, Virginia. Half on purpose and half by chance, he creates a hybrid grape that can withstand the harsh New World climate and produce good, drinkable wine, thus succeeding where so many others had failed so fantastically before, from the Jamestown colonists to Thomas Jefferson himself. Thanks to an influential Long Island, New York, seed catalog, the grape moves west, where it is picked up in Missouri by German immigrants who craft the historic 1873 bottling. Prohibition sees these vineyards burned to the ground by government order, but bootleggers keep the grape alive in hidden backwoods plots. Generations later, retired Air Force pilot Dennis Horton, who grew up playing in the abandoned wine caves of the very winery that produced the 1873 Norton, brings cuttings of the grape back home to Virginia. Here, dot-com-millionaire-turned-vintner Jenni McCloud, on an improbable journey of her own, becomes Norton's ultimate champion, deciding, against all odds, to stake her entire reputation on the outsider grape.
     Brilliant and provocative, The Wild Vine shares with readers a great American secret, resuscitating the Norton grape and its elusive, inky drink and forever changing the way we look at wine, America, and long-cherished notions of identity and reinvention.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - tloeffler - LibraryThing

If you don't live in Missouri, you may not know how big the wine industry is here, especially in Hermann. I do live in Missouri, and I never miss the MO WineFest, Chocolate Wine Trail, or any ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - nemoman - LibraryThing

Kliman posits that "Norton" is the only native American grape that produces wine comparable to the traditional European vinifera grapes. He then traces the grapes origin and and the historical ... Read full review

Contents

Section 1
3
Section 2
12
Section 3
39
Section 4
52
Section 5
64
Section 6
78
Section 7
84
Section 8
94
Section 13
142
Section 14
159
Section 15
172
Section 16
192
Section 17
204
Section 18
213
Section 19
219
Section 20
226

Section 9
109
Section 10
115
Section 11
126
Section 12
134
Section 21
233
Section 22
256
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About the author (2011)

Todd Kliman is the food and wine editor and restaurant critic of The Washingtonian. He won a James Beard Award in 2005 for his writing.

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