This is a wine book unlike any other. Fascinating to read, it exposes some of the colorful characters who populated the wine industry since Prohibition’s repeal. From a bird’s eye view, we see actual happenings in wineries as named leaders dealt with real situations in creating and selling wines. The action takes place during one of the most explosive phases of California wine growth, as recalled by one of the most prominent and involved winemakers of the time.

The author pulls no punches: disastrous decisions as well as brilliant moves are described with equal visibility; the managers and winemakers involved include some of the most well known names in the wine industry between the era of Prohibition and present day.

The author’s own story – raised in the Midwest during the Great Depression – mirrors this period of exciting and unprecedented change. His first-hand descriptions of the people and events encountered along the way are told with great humor and candor, making The Winemaker a compelling read for book lovers everywhere.

Narration begins by walking the reader through day-to-day life of an ordinary family in the Midwest during the Depression when families could make their own wine, and continues as the author wends his way to California and a half-century career in the wine industry. Fifty pages of authentic photographs verify the book’s narrative.

Although a fun read, it can be used as a teaching aid or supplemental reading for college wine courses. With subtle reminders of how, and how not to run a winery or other business, it paints vivid pictures of the people who fashioned today’s evolving face of wine. Between the lines, artful tips to improve winemaking are disclosed, helping home winemakers and professionals improve their craft.

Understanding clever moves of previous winery managers and unsuccessful, ruinous shortcuts of others is certain to help today’s leaders in their operations. Smart decisions and mistakes in vineyards are clearly detailed, becoming clues which will help today’s viticulturist choose grape varieties most likely to succeed and avoid others in given vineyard locations.