The Heartbreak Grape: A Journey in Search of the Perfect Pinot Noir Paperback – 1 Apr 2007
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
De Villiers did his research in 1991, and into late 1992, I believe, and the original book was published in 1993. I read the first edition only to find out that soon after I had done so, a completely revised and updated version would be released in late April `07. I was probably one of the first to buy it again. I had to see what had happened to Josh Jensen since then. Of course, I knew that he was still making wine, because I had been compelled to order half a case of his pinot after all I had read about it. Watch out, this book could cost you more than the $12.95 retail price - but no matter, the wine is awesome, I can assure you of that.
The revised edition is more of the same, which is to say it's a very good continuation of a great story. De Villiers is reverent to the grape, to viticulture, to Josh Jensen himself, and to the wine he produces. He tells the story as much from Jensen's point of view as anything, but like a good photographer or film producer, he comes in tight on his subject and then backs off to show more of the entire landscape. You feel privy to the triumphs and setbacks that Jensen went through as a young man trying to find his land, lay out the vineyards, get water to his young vines, and then bring his wines to market. But de Villiers delivers more than that. He explains - in such poetic prose, why pinot noir is such an onerous varietal, and as he conveys that, you can't help but quietly sense that it is the perfect life's challenge for Jensen, who is quite a character himself.
The book is an easy read but you'll find that you're learning about wine and its attendant culture in ways you might not normally have access. What you learn about viticulture, wine, and winemaking is passive and simply a byproduct of the story. It certainly beats reading textbooks. Well-written and researched books have that special something that makes them unforgettable. They're the kind that long after you've read that last page, you'll find yourself still thinking about it in unexpected moments. There are only a few that I place in that category personally, but seriously . . . for me, this book is one of them.
Years ago, I read everything (quality) about wine in the English language. Since it is a biography, The Heartbreak Grape is one that I will recommend amongst several for those interested in how quality wine is made. It is Josh Jensen's quest for his dream. Josh is a pioneer, doing what many around him claimed could or should not be done--hence the title. The bottom line is, Jensons work became an inspirational cornerstone for the California and Oregon Pinot Noir Industry. Also, do you like Viognier? He brought to the states. I can connect with that because I helped make some of the first Viognier in WA state from Ciel du Cheval Fruit when I worked with McCrea. Read this book. It's a good read even if you are not a winemaker.