Author: Caro Feely
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Length: 288 pages
Available in bookstores across the country as well as at online retailers, including Amazon
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.
This non-fictional read is about a couple who escaped the rat race, and along with their young children travelled to the wonderful French countryside and bought a vineyard; a rather run down and dilapidated vineyard at that. This in itself was quite eventful for them.
I'm not a wine drinker, but having visited some of the vineyards in France in my school years, I was keen on reading the couple re-cap their journey, sharing with the readers their triumphs and tribulations.
I thoroughly enjoyed the author talking about the renovations that were being made on the farmhouse, and it made me want to go and help out and get stuck in too. However just when they thought they had solved one problem, another appeared in its place. All the while this was being described, I was picturing this in my mind.
I couldn't believe how stressful it was having your own vineyard. You expect it to be hard work, with the planting, the pruning and the gentle tending of the vines. You expect it to be hard work at harvest time. What I didn't ever really think about was the vast amount of French bureaucracy that is involved. These workers work so hard, only to be knocked down at each hurdle by some form that needs filling or something else that needs doing. Even filling in a form isn't straightforward. When you see the hoops they have to jump through, it makes you wonder how French wine is not far more expensive.
What delighted me was the friendliness, kindness and helpfulness shown to them by the locals and other wine growers, even their competitors.
I learnt a lot from this book about the wine making process, and what to look out for in different wines. I loved how all aspects of their life was shared with us. I am full of admiration for them and I don't know if I could give up a secure well paid job to go to another country and work all the hours under the sun. I really liked the author, her family and friends and sincerely hope that all they are doing to live their dream works out well for them.
** At the end of the book, the author directs you to her website about the vineyard. Read the book first and then visit the website to see if its how you pictured it, whilst reading the book **
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]
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