From Napa to Tuscany in Search of Great Wine
By Nick Wise
Movie moguls… chefs… musicians… even porn stars! There are a lot of celebs in the wine industry today. The burning questions we all want to ask are: How involved are they really in the winemaking process? Are their wines any good? And what draws these personages to wine in the first place?
Author Nick Wise answers these questions in Celebrity Vineyards by examining sixteen different celebrity-owned operations. They are a varied and diverse lot, from the historic Inglenook estate owned by director Francis Ford Coppola and the rustic Tuscan wines of porn star Savanna Samson to the tiny Sonoma vineyard plot owned by chef Charlie Palmer and the modern, state-of-the-art Anta Banderas winery in Spain of actor Antonio Banderas.
Each of the celebrity vineyards featured in Wise’s book is beautifully illustrated with abundant color photographs. Wise provides brief biographies of each VIP, tells the story of how they got into winemaking and gives detailed tasting notes for many of his favorite wines. Unfortunately, he rarely managed to interview his star subjects in person. Instead, he was typically hosted at each estate by its winemaker or general manager.
Wise writes enthusiastically, engagingly and insightfully, if sometimes repetitiously. His colorful comparison of the effect of oak casks on wine to makeup on a woman is well-observed: “a little can enhance the naturally beautiful, while too much can easily hide nuances, good or bad.” Readers who enjoy Celebrity Vineyards can look forward to a sequel. Wise ends his book with a list of possible future subjects, including wine critic Robert Parker’s Beaux Frères Vineyard & Winery in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and Madonna’s Ciccone Vineyard and Winery on Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula.
Reviewed by Barnaby Hughes
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