From the author of the acclaimed Angels’ Visits, an inside look at how a handful of visionary winemakers has transformed--and been transformed by--the California wine industry over the past four decades.
In the 1970s, a group of idealistic baby boomers was attracted to the seemingly romantic world of winemaking. Over the next thirty-five years, however--as competition increased from abroad, wine eclipsed beer and spirits as America’s beverage of choice, critics came to control the marketplace, and corporatization took over the industry--these young aesthetes would learn that wine is an unforgiving business. To survive in an increasingly cutthroat atmosphere, they would have to be clever, and no one was more innovative than Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyards--“the court jester and bleeding conscience”of California wine, its most original and amusing figure. But Grahm is only one of a handful of restless visionaries who, having chosen wine as the vehicle through which to fulfill their dreams, ended up changing the rules of the industry by adapting to its demands. From high technology to hardball entrepreneurship to handicapping of scores to holistic farming, each operates by his own definition of an ideal wine.
Spanning from the early Seventies to the present day, this lively, sweeping account by David Darlington, winner of a 2008 James Beard award for magazine wine writing, portrays a group of pioneers with a sharp journalistic eye. A tale of vision and disillusion, brinkmanship and pragmatism, nature and business, politics and culture, An Ideal Wine is a fascinating look at an ever-evolving industry that reflects the values of our society and civilization.