Archive for September, 2014

Set In: Wine Country

Seeing as late summer/early fall is the ideal time to harvest grapes (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), we thought we’d take a look at books set in wine country. These regions, whether in Northern California, or virtually anywhere in France, lend themselves to unique stories involving growing, harvesting, and of course, competition. Keep in mind, however, reading a few of the following titles might just get you a bit tipsy with wine knowledge. Santé!



Bordeaux – Paul Torday

  • Taking an unexpected detour on the way home from work, Wilberforce, a wealthy, self-contained young man, is drawn into an unexpected new world thanks to an encounter with Francis Black, an eccentric and enigmatic wine merchant, who introduces Wilberforce to fine wines, new friends, and his new wife, but he soon discovers that his new life comes at a price.

A Delicate Finish – Jeanette Baker

  • Left by her husband, Jake, without a word of explanation, Francesca DeAngelo struggles to cope with a hundred-year-old vineyard, a young son, and feisty mother-in-law, but now she is confronted by smooth-talking Mitchell Gillette, who is putting small independent vintners out of business and the return of her repentant husband.

A Good Year – Peter Mayle

  • Having lost his biggest client to an unscrupulous boss, Max Skinner journeys to Provence to inspect a vineyard he has inherited and finds additional challenges in a California woman’s claim on the estate.

House of Daughters – Sarah-Kate Lynch

  • Expecting to inherit the family’s vineyard in the French province of Champagne after her father’s death, Clementine discovers to her dismay that she must share the inheritance with her two half-sisters.

Nose – James Conaway

  • Delightedly discovering a first Cabernet to receive his highest score, egotistical wine critic Clyde Craven-Jones investigates the vintage’s mysterious origins with his wife and two underdogs only to land in the middle of a scandalous family squabble with ties to a decades-old wrongdoing.

Sideways – Rex Pickett

  • What better way for two friends to contemplate their last days of freedom (Jack) or reevaluate their lives (Miles) than to take off on a weeklong road trip from L.A. to the Santa Ynez wine country?

The Villa – Nora Roberts

  • Sparks fly, as two wine-making families merge–the Giambellis and the MacMillans–and try to make the deal work. Tyler MacMillan and Sophia Giambelli are forced to work very closely together and are torn between a powerful attraction and a professional rivalry.

The Vineyard – Barbara Delinsky

  • A woman and her daughter accept an invitation to spend the summer on a vineyard to help the owner, a widow, write her memoir. They soon learn that all is not as it seems at the vineyard.

The Vintner’s Daughter – Kristen Harnisch

  • When Sara Thibault escapes a murder charge in 1895 France, she ends up in America, where she can put her knowledge of the wine-making process to work to save herself and her sister.

The Winemaker’s Daughter – Timothy Egan

  • Brunella, an accomplished Seattle architect, stumbles upon a web of family secrets, while struggling to help her aging father protect his beloved vineyard during a drought that is ravaging the Pacific Northwest.



Joni Folger’s Tangled Vines series

  1. Grapes of Death
  2. Of Merlot and Murder

Ellen Crosby’s Wine Country series

  1. The Merlot Murders
  2. The Chardonnay Charade
  3. The Bordeaux Betrayal
  4. The Riesling Retribution
  5. The Viognier Vendetta
  6. The Sauvignon Secret

Carole Price’s Shakespeare in the Vineyard series

  1. Twisted Vines



Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine – Benjamin Wallace

  • Describes the 1985 purchase of a bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafite Bordeaux for $156,000, the mysterious background of the wine, and the enigmatic wine collector who discoverd the bottle, once supposedly owned by Thomas Jefferson, in a bricked-up Paris cellar.

Blood and Wine: The Unauthorized Story of the Gallo Wine Empire – Ellen Hawkes

  • A portrait of the Gallos uncovers the existence of the family’s black sheep, Joseph Jr.–Ernest and Julio’s younger brother–and probes into why he was denied his third of the winery.

Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World’s Most Ancient Pleasures – Paul Lukacs

  • Describes the eight thousand year history of wine, chronicling the changes that have taken place in preparation and taste as the ancient world gave way to the scientific, industrial, social, and ideological revolutions of modern times.

Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting that Revolutionized Wine – George M. Taber

  • Looks at an event held in 1976 in which French judges, during a blind taste-test, chose unknown California wines to be superior to Frances’ best wines.

Passion on the Vine: A Memoir of Food, Wine and Family in the Heart of Italy  – Sergio Esposito

  • Recounts the author’s childhood in Naples and New York, focusing on his deep association between wine and family, and discusses the winemaking process in different parts of the world.

Reflections of a Wine Merchant – Neal Rosenthal

  • A successful importer of classically made European wines discusses his decision to learn about wine and old-world wine production thirty years ago, his observations about the role of terrain in imparting distinctive qualities, and his relationships with traditional winemakers.

The Road to Burgundy: The Unlikely Story of an American Making Wine and a New Life in France – Ray Walker

  • Recounts the author’s decision to abandon his financial career to pursue a dream of running a Burgundy vineyard, describing his immersion into regional wine history and the ancient techniques that rendered him a first non-French winemaker to produce a vintage from Le Chambertin.

A Vineyard in Tuscany: A Wine Lover’s Dream – Ferenc Máté

  • Shares the story of how two New Yorkers converted an ancient farm into a renowned winery, a labor of love during which they struggled to plant fifteen acres of vines while drawing on the wisdom of famous vintner neighbors.

Virgile’s Vineyard: A Year in the Languedoc Wine Country – Patrick Moon

  • An Englishman crosses the Channel to spend a year in the vineyards of France. Overcoming the traditional Briton’s bewilderment at sunshine, he learns a bit about the quaint locals and an awful lot about oenology.


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The Way Back Machine – Best Sellers 2002

Only going back a dozen years this week (still, though, is it even possible we’re almost 15 years into this new century? Doesn’t 2002 seem like yesterday?) For those of us in the Intermountain West, 2002 started out with a big bang since the Winter Olympics were in Salt Lake City. If you can’t remember that, maybe you’ll remember these events:

  • In January, Euro notes and coins start circulating.
  • In March, Denzel Washington and Halle Berry take home the top acting Oscars at the 74th Academy Awards, the first time the two awards went to African-Americans in the same year.
  • In November, the UN passes a unanimous resolution warning Saddam Hussein to disarm.

In case you’re still having difficulty thinking back to 2002, here are the New York Times Best Sellers for the week of September 22. Maybe you’ll recognize a favorite – or remember what was going on in your life as you read them.



1. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

2. Red Rabbit by Tom Clancy

3. Dark Horse by Tami Hoag

4. Standing in the Rainbow by Fannie Flagg

5. The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara: Morgawr by Terry Brooks

6. The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

7. The Remnant by Tim Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

8. Celebrate Through Heartsongs by Mattie J. T. Stepanek

9. The Beach House by James Patterson and Peter De Jonge

10. Mission Compromised by Oliver North with Joe Musser

11. The Grave Maurice by Martha Grimes

12. A Love of My Own by E. Lynn Harris

13. The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen



1. Let’s Roll! by Lisa Beamer with Ken Abraham

2. Let Freedom Ring by Sean Hannity

3. What We Saw by CBS News

4. Above Hallowed Ground by Photographers of the New York City Police Department

5. Breakdown: How America’s Intelligence Failures Led to September 11 by Bill Gertz

6. A Mind at a Time by Mel Levine

7. Slander by Ann Coulter

8. Longitudes and Attitudes by Thomas L. Friedman

9. The Cell: Inside the 9/11 Plot and Why the FBI and CIA Failed to Stop It by John Miller and Michael Stone with Chris Mitchell

10. Good to Great by Jim Collins

11. Sacred Contracts by Caroline Myss

12. Stupid White Men by Michael Moore

13. A Nation Challenged by The New York Times

14. The Lobster Chronicles by Linda Greenlaw

15. Among the Heroes by Jere Longman

14. Charleston by John Jakes

15. Shadow Puppets by Orson Scott Card


Take Ten: The Roosevelts

With the new Ken Burns documentary airing next week, the name Roosevelt seems to be everywhere. The film should be interesting (and it’s getting good reviews), but I’m not sure that 14 hours can do justice to these three titans of the 20th Century. Start with the companion book – The Roosevelts: An Intimate Portrait by Geoffrey C. Ward – and then venture out to a few more books that cover them more extensively. Whether we talk about their impact in a political or social sense, there’s no denying that they served a large role in helping to define America. Learn more about this fascinating trio with one of these titles.


Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (1858-1919)

The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism – Doris Kearns Goodwin

Bully!: The Life and Times of Theodore Roosevelt – Richard Marschall

Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt’s Doomed Quest to Clean up Sin-Loving New York – Richard Zacks

Mornings on Horseback – David McCullough

The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey – Candice Millard

The Rough Riders: An Autobiography – Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt and the Assassin: Madness, Vengeance, and the Campaign of 1912 – Gerard Helferich

Unreasonable Men: Theodore Roosevelt and the Republican Rebels Who Created Progressive Politics – Michael Wolraich

When Trumpets Call: Theodore Roosevelt After the White House – Patricia O’Toole

The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America – Douglas Brinkley


Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882 – 1945)

By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans – Greg Robinson

The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope – Jonathan Alter

FDR – Jean Edward Smith

FDR v. the Constitution: The Court-Packing Fight and the Triumph of Democracy – Burt Solomon

Final Victory: FDR’s Extraordinary Campaign for President During World War II – Stanley Weintraub

Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship – Jon Meacham

The Man He Became: How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency – James Tobin

Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt – H. W. Brands

Young Mr. Roosevelt: FDR’s Introduction to War, Politics, and Life – Stanley Weintraub

Six Months in 1945: FDR, Stalin, Churchill, and Truman – From World War to Cold War – Michael Dobbs


Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (1884 – 1962)

Casting Her Own Shadow: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Shaping of Postwar Liberalism – Allida M. Black

Dear Mrs. Roosevelt: Letters to Eleanor Roosevelt Through Depression and War – ed. Cathy D. Knepper

Eleanor: The Years Alone – Joseph P. Lash

Eleanor Roosevelt: An American Conscience – Tamara K. Hareven

Eleanor Roosevelt, Reluctant First Lady – Lorena A. Hickok

She Was One of Us: Eleanor Roosevelt and the American Worker – Brigid O’Farrell

This I Remember – Eleanor Roosevelt

What I Hope to Leave Behind: The Essential Essays of Eleanor Roosevelt – Eleanor Roosevelt

With Love, Aunt Eleanor: Stories from My Life with the First Lady of the World – Eleanor Roosevelt II

A World of Love: Eleanor Roosevelt and Her Friends, 1943-1962 – Joseph P. Lash


And two extra that look at the relationship between Franklin and Eleanor:

Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage – Hazel Rowley

Too Close to the Sun: Growing Up in the Shadow of My Grandparents, Franklin and Eleanor – Curtis Roosevelt


Snake River Canyon 1, Evel Knievel 0

Sep 9 1974_full    September 8, 1974 was a disappointing day for many Americans; not only were they reeling from the news that Gerald Ford had issued a pardon for Richard Nixon, but their favorite dare-devil had failed in his attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon. Evel Knievel’s rocket parachute opened shortly after take-off, rendering his whole jump a disaster. Nowhere was there more disappointment than in Twin Falls – the newspaper the next day offered many opinions from the masses who had gathered to witness the event. The excitement of the jump had brought national exposure, both wanted and unwanted, and repercussions that the community felt for long afterward.

   Knievel’s stunt may have been the epic fail of the 70s – the chaos surrounding that event still lingers on in our collective memories – but it did bring about a few positives. The people of Twin Falls learned a few lessons about big-time promotion, as well as the idea that we could survive the outcome of such an event. Plus, it put our area on the map – and you know the saying that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

   Relive the event – without the problems – by reading the Twin Falls Times-News accounts of the jump: