I just received my copy which I pre-ordered on Amazon. I am heartbroken. I regret to discover that these publishers, who have otherwise been doing a brilliant job of bringing Drops of God to America, do not understand manga readers and manga book collectors. Or if they do, they had some financial issues with the series and decided to take this drastic editorial step. For Vol 5 "New World" - is not really Vol 5 and doesn't follow Vol 4. Instead, it skips ahead in the story. The back cover warns us. I have been eagerly reading Vol 1, 2, 3, and 4 by the same publisher, Vertical. I've pre-ordered every volume as I have been collecting the books and following this story.
I'm completely stumped and flabberghasted that the publisher has decided to do this. This is what the English language Oishinbo (another gourmet manga series) ended up as - a hellish hodge-podge of "best of" episodes with stories that started in the middle and made no sense. I did not follow Oishinbo in English precisely because the online reviewers complained. Perhaps the American publishers think by skipping to the "Napa Valley" story arc, more American buyers would pick up the series. IMHO, American manga readers don't want to read manga because it is more identifiably American. They want to read manga because it is Japanese-y and crazy sexy cool.
I believe the only American buyers who would buy New World would be the same ones who have been buying Vol 1 - 4. No new fans are going to read New World as a stand-alone, because it starts in the middle of the story. So why do this? It's neither here nor there.
Does this mean they would ever issue a Vol 5 to cover all the "episodes" in between Vol 4 and New World? Probably not, because if you read New World, you would have already read all the spoilers. To add insult to injury, the cover art and spine doesn't exactly match the previous 4 volumes and don't look good on my shelf. Be warned. You might be better off reading and collecting the Japanese or French versions, if you can do it. I am completely heartbroken. I weep at my lost innocence!
Update: after catching up on interim episodes (published in the Chinese and French translation volumes, available in France, Hong Kong, Taiwan), I finally read this "skipped ahead" English volume. It's really good. I'm sad to read other online reviewers say that Drops of God in English has committed "manga-kiri" (i.e. no more English translations after this 5th volume). Says something about the American market and its attitude towards manga, wine, and other countries' cultures. I am glad I was "forced" to take foreign languages at school - now I know why - it's to read DROPS OF GOD! Because one can no longer reliably count on one's manga series to be translated into English!