Eight Hundred Grapes: A Novel
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Eight Hundred Grapes: A Novel

4.0 28
by Laura Dave

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Heralded as “impossible to put down” (Elle), and named a Best Book of the Summer by Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Marie Claire, and Us Weekly, Eight Hundred Grapes is a heartbreaking, funny, and deeply evocative novel about love, marriage, family, wine, and the treacherous terrain


Heralded as “impossible to put down” (Elle), and named a Best Book of the Summer by Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Marie Claire, and Us Weekly, Eight Hundred Grapes is a heartbreaking, funny, and deeply evocative novel about love, marriage, family, wine, and the treacherous terrain in which they all intersect.

There are secrets you share, and secrets you hide… What if your beloved fiancé, he of the crinkly smile and irresistible British accent, had kept a life-changing secret from you? And what if, just a week before your dream wedding, you discovered it?

Georgia Ford, bride-to-be, hops in her car and drives through the night, from Los Angeles to Sonoma, to her safe haven: her family, and the acclaimed family winery. Georgia craves the company of those who know her best, and whom she truly knows. Better yet, it’s the eve of the last harvest—the best time of the growing season, and Georgia knows she’ll find solace—and distraction—in the familiar rituals. But when Georgia arrives home, nothing is at all familiar. Her parents, her brothers, the family business, are all unrecognizable. It seems her fiancé isn’t the only one who’s been keeping secrets…

Eight Hundred Grapes is a story about the messy realities of family, the strength (and weaknesses) of romantic love, and the importance of finding a place to call home. “This winning tale will both satisfy on a literary level and encourage oenophiles to pour themselves a glass of a recent vintage to enjoy while reading; it’s a tasty treat for wine lovers and teetotalers alike” (Publishers Weekly). You won’t be able to put this “addictive” (Us Weekly) novel down.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“I couldn't put Eight Hundred Grapes down! Laura Dave writes with humor and insight about relationships in all their complexity, whether she's describing siblings or fiancés or a couple long-married. Eight Hundred Grapes is a captivating story about the power of family, the limitations of love, and what becomes of a life's work.”
—J. Courtney Sullivan, New York Times bestselling author of Maine and The Engagements

“Laura Dave paints Sonoma County and its inhabitants with both warmth and smarts in this delicious novel. Eight Hundred Grapes is fun and thought-provoking, and is guaranteed to make you deeply thirsty for some Pinot Noir.”
—Emma Straub, New York Times bestselling author of The Vacationers

Library Journal
A week before her wedding, Georgia Ford flees to her family's vineyard in Sonoma: the vineyard where she and her brothers grew up; the vineyard that is now being sold to a big commercial winemaker. She might be losing a fiancé, but it's the vineyard that Georgia can't bear to let go. "Be careful what you give up," her mom says, in the midst of having marital problems with Georgia's father. Meanwhile her brothers are fighting. Then, Georgia's fiancé arrives to make amends—but his ex-girlfriend also pops up. Enter the handsome Jacob, who is buying out Georgia's family. There is so much going on in this lighthearted, mainstream chick lit; so many conversations about complicated feelings. It takes 800 grapes to make one bottle of wine, but how many winemaking metaphors does it take to get to the predictable happily-ever-after? VERDICT Fast-moving chapters and snappy dialog make this a quick, breezy, perfect beach read, but the story would improve if the protagonist had some romantic love scenes and a bit more passion. This is Dave's (The First Husband; The Divorce Party) fourth novel; she is gaining a following and finding her spot next to the likes of Emily Giffin and Nancy Thayer.—Sonia Reppe, Stickney-Forest View P.L., IL
Kirkus Reviews
Days before her wedding, Georgia's relationship breaks down. But when she tries to escape home to wine country, she discovers nearly as many fissures in her family. In the navel-gazing microcosm of California, worlds don't get much more different than Los Angeles and Sonoma: the former rich in artificial vice, the latter in cultivated flavor. Dave, a seasoned writer of literary romance (The First Husband, 2011, etc.), explores this divide through the eyes of Georgia Ford, a 30-year-old LA-based corporate lawyer on the cusp of marrying her dream guy, Ben. He's a devastating British architect, of course—rom-coms breed such fellows on a Burberry island somewhere—and his long-ago fling with an equally devastating movie star resulted in a 4-year-old daughter he's just learned about. Cue the devastation for Georgia, who flees up the coast in wedding garb after spying the seemingly happy family walk by during her final dress fitting. Destination: The Last Straw, the idyllic family vineyard in Sebastopol where she grew up with handsome twin brothers and crazy-in-love parents. Unfortunately, the clarity Georgia hopes to find there is quickly marred by everyone else's problems. Her parents' marriage is faltering; her feisty brothers are warring over a woman; and, in the deepest cut of all, her dad plans to sell the vineyard that's always anchored them. As Georgia weighs her ambivalence about Ben, she struggles to understand the parade of relationships blooming and busting around her. Through a series of flashbacks that range from canny to cloying, we learn how the Ford family has reached this collective crisis point. Resolutions arrive slowly and often unexpectedly for each of them, giving this satisfying novel legs. A lovelorn winemaker's daughter seeks the right way to crush sour grapes into a winning blend.

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Simon & Schuster
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5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

Read an Excerpt

Eight Hundred Grapes

  • Sebastopol, California. Six months ago

    My father has this great story about the day he met my mother, a story he never gets sick of telling. It was a snowy December morning and he was hurrying into his co-worker’s yellow Volkswagen bug parked in front of Lincoln Center, holding two cups of coffee and a massive slew of newspapers. (His first wine, Block 14—the only wine in his very first vintage—had gotten a small mention in the Wall Street Journal.) And between the excitement of the article and the steaming coffee, Daniel Bradley Ford didn’t notice that there were two yellow bugs parked in front of Lincoln Center. That his East Coast distributor was not the one huddling for warmth in the yellow bug’s driver’s seat. But, instead, his future wife, Jenny.

    He had gotten into the wrong car to find the most gorgeous woman he’d ever seen, wearing blue mittens and a matching beret. Her long, blond curls seeping out from beneath. Her cello taking up the whole backseat.

    The legend goes—and knowing my parents I almost believe it—that my mother didn’t scream. She didn’t ask who my father was or what he was doing in her car. She offered one of her magical smiles and said, “I was wondering what took you so long.”

    Then she reached out her hand for the cup of coffee he was ready to give her.

    Synchronization, my father would say. This was a very big word for him. Synchronization: The coordination of events to operate in union. A conductor managing to keep his orchestra in time. The impossible meeting of light reflection and time exposure that leads to a perfect photograph. Two yellow bugs parked in front of Lincoln Center at the same time, the love of your life in one of them.

    Not fate, my father would add. Don’t confuse it with fate. Fate suggests no agency. Synchronization is all about agency. It involves all systems running in a state where different parts of the system are almost, if not precisely, ready.

    For my father, it was the basis of how he approached his work: first as a scientist, then as a winemaker. He was one of the first biodynamic winemakers in America, certainly in his little corner of it. He considered not just the grapes themselves, but—as he liked to espouse—the ecological, social, and economic systems that needed to be synchronized in order to properly grow them. My father said that doing it any other way was lazy.

    As for me, I had trouble seeing the role synchronization played in my own life. The role it was supposed to play. Until it went and destroyed my blessedly ignorant, willfully optimistic life, in a way I couldn’t ignore unless I ran from it.

    So, on that fateful Friday, I did just that. I ran from it.

    With only the clothes on my back and a hastily packed suitcase, I drove from sunny Southern California—the place that had been my home for the last fourteen years—to the small town in Northern California on the edge of the Russian River Valley. The place that’d been my home for my entire life until then.

    Nine hours, five rest-spot stops, two terrible milkshakey coffee drinks (one vanilla, one strawberry), and a roll of Rolos later, I arrived in Sonoma County. I should have felt relief, but as I passed the familiar sign for Sebastopol—its wiry hills visible behind it—I caught a glimpse of myself in the rearview. My hair was falling out of its bun, my eyes were deeply unsettled, and I couldn’t escape the feeling that I was about to walk into a new kind of hell.

    So I turned around and started driving the nine hours back to Los Angeles.

    But it was getting late, and I hadn’t eaten (save the Rolos), and the rain was coming down hard, and I was so tired I couldn’t think. So I pulled off Highway 12, getting off at the exit for downtown Santa Rosa, knowing where I was going before I admitted it to myself.

    The Brothers’ Tavern was something of a Sonoma County institution. The original owners—and brothers—had opened the doors seventy-­eight years ago with the idea that it would be the place in the county that was open late, and the place that served the best beer. The subsequent owners had stuck with the plan, taking the bar and grill to another level, brewing award-winning beer on site that drew people from all over the state.

    Of course, the current owners of The Brothers’ Tavern were my brothers. Finn and Bobby Ford. And the jig would be up as soon as they saw me. They would see it on my face. What I had been through.

    But when I walked into the bar, Finn was the only one standing there. No Bobby. Bobby was always there on the weekends, so this was the first confusing thing.

    The fact that my father wasn’t sitting on the corner bar stool having a drink with them was the second.

    My father came by every Friday—the only way to start his weekend, he liked to say, was to have a drink with his boys. My heart dropped in disappointment, realizing that this was really why I had shown up, despite the ramifications. So that my father would have a drink with his girl, jig up or not.

    But it was only Finn standing behind the bar, looking at me like he didn’t recognize me. And, for a minute, I wondered if he didn’t. My hair was in a disheveled bun, my smile fake and forced. And it was late. Maybe I looked like another straggler, trying to get a drink before he closed down for the night.

    To his credit, Finn didn’t call me out on any of this. He walked past the other customers, who stared at me as I took a seat at the end of the bar—the one close to the fireplace. My father’s seat.

    I sat down, ignoring their pseudo-casual glances, Finn drilling them with looks so they’d stop staring. This was Finn, the perpetual big brother. He was ready to protect me even before he knew what he was protecting me from.

    He offered a big smile. “What are you doing here?”

    “Took a drive.”

    “A nine-hour drive?” he said.

    I shrugged. “Got carried away.”

    “Clearly.” He paused. “No speeding ticket?”

    “No, Finn,” I said, knowing Finn thought I was an awful driver. Like running-out-of-gas-while-getting-a-speeding-ticket awful. It’s hard to lose that reputation. Even if it only happened once.

    “Glad to hear that, at least,” Finn said, sincerely.

    Then he nodded, trying to decide how hard to push, keeping his eyes on me.

    Finn was my good brother. They both were pretty good, but Finn was the truly good one in my book, even if he wasn’t the good one in anyone else’s. Bobby was more ostensibly impressive: The captain of the high school football team, a local legend, a successful venture capitalist with a full life in San Francisco. A beautiful town house, beautiful cars, beautiful family. He was five minutes younger than Finn, but in every other way he seemed to always come in first.

    Bobby had bought the bar as a hobby and to give Finn something to do. Finn believed less in employment. He owned the bar so he could drink for free and so he could keep taking photographs. Finn was a great photographer, but he seemed to only work—weddings, family portraits—when the mood struck him. He was a little like my father in that way, adhering to a code of purity that only he understood.

    “I missed Dad?”

    “He didn’t come in tonight.” Finn shrugged, as if to say, Don’t ask me. “We can call him. He’ll come now, if he knows you’re here.”

    I shook my head, keeping my eyes down, afraid to meet Finn’s eyes. Finn looked so much like my father. Both of them had these dark eyes, with matching piles of dark hair. They were handsome guys, all American. The only obvious difference was that Finn liked to keep that mane of hair under a backward baseball cap. Usually a Chargers cap.

    It made it hard to tell him what was going on without feeling like I was about to disappoint my father too.

    Finn cleared his throat. “So they don’t know you’re here? Mom and Dad?”

    “No, and I’d appreciate if you don’t tell them, you know, the circumstances. It wasn’t planned, obviously.”


    He paused, like he wanted to say something else, but thought better of it. “They’ll be happy to see you,” he said. “That you came. Whatever the reason. None of us thought you were coming home for the harvest, you know?”

    The harvest of the grapes—the most important five weeks in my father’s year. I’d arrived home under duress the very weekend he always held most sacred—the last weekend of the harvest. Every year I came home for it. We all did. We returned to the family house: The brothers slept in their old rooms, I slept in mine. Our various spouses and partners and children filled up the rest of the house. And all of us joined my father to harvest the final vines, to drink the first sips of wine. We all stayed for the harvest party. But this year was supposed to be different. For a variety of reasons, I wasn’t supposed to be there.

    Finn, realizing his error in raising this, shifted from foot to foot. “What do you want to drink?” he said.

    I pointed at the entire bar behind him. The bourbon and scotch and whisky were like Christmas presents.

    Finn smiled. He put a glass of bourbon in front of me, and a glass of red wine. “What you think you want,” he said, pointing to the first. “What you’ll actually take more than two sips of.”

    “Thank you,” I said.

    “My pleasure.”

    I sipped at the bourbon. Then I turned, almost immediately, to the wine.

    Finn put the bottle on the table so I could see what he had poured. It was a dark and grippy Pinot Noir. The Last Straw Vineyard. B-Minor 2003 Vintage. One of the wines from our father’s vineyard. My favorite wine from our father’s vineyard, mine and Bobby’s. One thing we had in common.

    “This is a great bottle,” I said. “You should take it away and save some for Bobby.”

    Finn nodded, tightly. Like there was something he didn’t want to say, not out loud.

    Then, just as quickly, he softened.

    “You hungry?” Finn said. “I could get the kitchen to fix you something.”

    “They’re not closed?”

    Finn leaned against the countertop. “Not for you,” he said.

    It was the nicest thing he could have said, and I gave him a smile so he knew how much I appreciated it. Then he walked back toward the kitchen, taking a sip from the bourbon as he went.

    I sat taller on the bar stool, more aware of the looks I was getting, now that Finn was moving away.

    Finn turned back for just a second. “Hey, Georgia . . .” he said.


    “You know that you’re still wearing your wedding dress, yes?” he said.

    I looked down at the sprawling lace, dirty from the five-hundred-mile drive and the run across The Brothers’ Tavern parking lot. And what looked, sadly, like a lost Rolo.

    I touched the soft skirt. “I do,” I said.

    He nodded and turned back toward the kitchen. “All right, then,” he said. “One grilled cheese coming up.”

  • Meet the Author

    Laura Dave is the international bestselling author of Eight Hundred Grapes, The First Husband, The Divorce Party and London is the Best City in America. Her novels have been published in fifteen countries and optioned as major motion pictures. Dave's writing has appeared in The New York Times, Glamour, Self, Redbook, and Cosmopolitan. She lives in Santa Monica.

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    Eight Hundred Grapes: A Novel 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book was amazing. A great book about family and really knowing what is best for yourself even though it may take you awhile to figure out where you truely belong. Had me hooked from the beginning to the end.
    AnnieMcDonnell More than 1 year ago
    Laura Dave wrote a fabulous story, it was like a lyrical dance between life and the making of a bottle of wine. It was very intriguing. She is a very gift writer. We are introduced to Georgia Ford, a Real Estate Lawyer in Southern California that ran back home to Sonoma County when she finds her fianc&eacute; in a lie&hellip;.one that could ruin their wedding that is taking place in eight days. Sonoma County is where her parents own a vineyard/winery, called &ldquo;Last Straw Vineyard&rdquo;. Nothing written in this book was by chance; it was like poetry how perfect everything flowed. Georgia runs back home, right to her brother&rsquo;s bar, &ldquo;Brother&rsquo;s Tavern&rdquo;. Her brothers Bobby and Finn own the bar, and she stands out like a sore thumb. She has a great relationship with her Brothers, and they will stand by her no matter what. She then returns to her family home on the Vineyard only to find out that her parents have a secret, too. All of this is too much for her, and she just wants to fix everything. There is a quote in the book, which truly sums up the entire story&hellip;.&ldquo;Because that&rsquo;s what we do for the people we love. We don&rsquo;t sit around watching while they make mistakes. We at least try to stop them from doing things we know they will regret&rdquo;. I absolutely adored this story, reading it was quite intoxicating&hellip;.and I have to say that I would have loved to try a glass of B-Minor, that the Ford&rsquo;s make on &ldquo;Last Straw Vineyard&rdquo;. This is a must read, just in time for the lovely weather.
    TAWNEYBLAND1 More than 1 year ago
    This book pours a fantastic story together with great characters and a wonderful setting that keeps us interested until it&rsquo;s finished, just like a good glass of wine. I have always loved the wine country. This book is set in California&rsquo;s Sonoma wine country, with a variety of wonderful characters! I must admit I drank wine while reading it because who can resist when Laura&rsquo;s words and description make you feel like you&rsquo;re right there making the wine yourself. Georgia Ford grew up on her parents wine vineyard, so she knows a lot about wine! Her father decided this would be his second career, so that&rsquo;s what drew them into the wine business. As Georgia wedding is a week away, she see&rsquo;s her fianc&eacute; walking down the street with a woman and a small child. Turns out that he has kept a secret from her, this is his love child with a very famous woman. So in emotional distress, Georgia goes back home to the vineyard to contemplate what her next step is. But the surprises just keep coming. Her parents are separated, her brothers are at odds with their wives. The big bomb that drops is that her father is selling the vineyard they all love to a big corporate wine monster. Laura does a wonderful job weaving these stories together into a wonderful conclusion. What I love about this books it the fact the characters are personal and you connect with them. All the relationships are complex and you can&rsquo;t help but keep turning each page, and gulping some wine, to find out what happens next. The dialogue between the characters is wonderful and Laura casts a spell on you with her words. You can tell that Laura did her research on the trials of having a wine vineyard with weather, soil and life getting in the way. Her descriptions are so vivid that sometimes I can smell or taste the wine. I love how Laura lets us have a peek at the background to the vineyard&rsquo;s making in some short chapters. It let&rsquo;s us see how that intertwines into the current problems. This book is not only a romance read but you can walk away with a lesson on life and relationships all through the wonderful words of wine making. It includes characters struggling with infidelity, divorce, child rearing, surprise pregnancies, lost love, and aging. So much drama but such a good story to finish. Much better than what&rsquo;s on TV these days. Should you read it? YES! The writing is beautiful and the characters engaging. One recommendation, drink some wine with the book and immerse yourself into a fun, emotional story.
    TheAvidReader_KA More than 1 year ago
    I just finished the novel Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave. Did you know that it takes eight hundred grapes to make one bottle of wine? Georgia Ford was at the final fitting of her wedding dress when she saw her fianc&eacute; walking down the street with a beautiful red head and a little girl. Georgia chases after Ben (fianc&eacute;) in her wedding gown, when she catches up with him the little girl calls him Dad. Instead of staying to talk, Georgia gets into her car (in her wedding gown) and heads for her family&rsquo;s home, The Last Straw Vineyard in Sebestopol (Sonoma in California). One of her first sights upon arriving at home is a naked man walking out of her mother&rsquo;s bedroom (talk about a shocker). Changes have been taking place at home and no one has told her. They were waiting until after the wedding. Georgia is no longer sure of anything. Georgia is the type of person who likes to fix things for her family. She always wants to make things right for them. When Georgia finds out that her father is selling the vineyard, Georgia is sure it made the wrong decision. She sets out to stop the sale of the vineyard to Jacob McCarthy of Murray Grants wines. Georgia has to decide what to do with her future. Is she going to marry Ben and move to London? There is also problems with her two older brothers, Finn and Bobby (twins). Which, of course, Georgia wants to find out what the problem is and fix it. Eight Hundred Grapes is a good book, but not great. It is the kind of book you know what is going to happen at the end of the book after reading fifty pages. The information on wine making is interesting but it also bogs down the book (and almost put me to sleep). I give Eight Hundred Grapes 4 out of 5 stars. The book does have a lovely ending. I received a complimentary copy of Eight Hundred Grapes from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The review and opinions expressed are my own.
    Anonymous 7 months ago
    This book was heralded as one of this summer's best reads. I have to question the credentials and expertise of those who said this. The grammar and writing style were so poor as to be distracting. The characters were very one dimensional and the plot entirely predictable. Save your pennies for something better.
    Anonymous 8 months ago
    PinkStar More than 1 year ago
    Very enjoyable read. Loved the story line and characters
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    After reading the reviews,espeically one below,plus the rest,who in the world want to purchase this book?!!!!!Scratching my head on this one.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    It was OK ... after reading reviews expected something unique and different If you enjoy this type of book, many more notable ones out there "dictatorship of dress" by Jessica Topper, JoJo Moyes' "Me Before You" & "After You" ; Matchmaker Series by Elise Sax All fun light easy beach reads , you will laugh out loud, cry ... great books just say'n
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I loved this story. I'm sending it to my daughter who loves wine (she's a sommelier).
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Very easy read. I have read all laura dave books. He best one is the best city in ametica is london (or something like that). This one was a little week. I had the bood figured out by the first time she met jacob. Cute easy read.
    jessrobs More than 1 year ago
    KateUnger More than 1 year ago
    I adored this book. I love dysfunctional family stories, and this one drew me in immediately. Georgia finds out 10 days before her wedding that her fiance has a daughter that he never told her about. She freaks out and immediately drives to her childhood home...without even removing her wedding dress that was being fitted when she discovered this secret. The secrets keep coming! This family was an absolute mess, but it didn't seem over the top. I soaked up all the drama without complaint. The pacing of this book was fantastic. Laura Dave dives right in and kept me guessing the whole book. I was surprised by many of the plot points and couldn't decide what I thought was going to happen. And the writing is beautiful! In the way of John Green, except for adults, this book is full of hard truths about life. Seriously, there were so many nuggets of wisdom in this book - about relationships mostly. I couldn't stop recording quotes. If I assigned half stars, this book would have been a 4.5. I was so torn about 4 stars vs. 5 stars, but I ultimately went with 4 stars because of the repetitive use of the word "synchronization". I appreciated what Dave was trying to do, but the overuse was a little distracting. The grape growing and wine making elements of the story were an added bonus. I will definitely be serving wine at our book club meeting tonight when we discuss this book. It was a great read, and at only 260 pages, I devoured it in two days, staying up way too late to finish it. http://www.momsradius.com/2015/11/book-review-eight-hundred-grapes.html
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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    bookloverfl12 More than 1 year ago
    I LOVED THIS BOOK! Everybody goes home when the going gets tough but little do they know that it is never the same after you left. When you read this book, you feel as though you are right there in the Sonoma vineyard along side the characters. I have never been to California but the descriptions the author uses makes me feel like I have been there. I enjoyed that the twists of the story just don't stay with the main character but her family as well. Made the story more interesting. Even though I don't drink wine (or alcohol), I found it very interesting the detail that was put into the wine making descriptions, now I want to go! Must read for the summer!
    KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings A fantastic family drama! Georgia, the youngest of three heads back to her parents vineyard to escape some drama that unexpectedly came into her life. She returns home and everyone in her family - her twin brothers and her parents all have drama of their own and some are known and some are kept as secrets, but in this tight knit family, secrets don't last long. I absolutely adored this book from beginning to end. Georgia was a great character and was easy to fall in love with. Although she is the main character, I felt like the author built a great main character, but the large cast of secondary characters were all fantastic. There wasn't one character that I didn't love reading.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I loved the chaeacters, the storyline and the experience of the wine country.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous 10 months ago
    Go to res 3 real quick
    Anonymous 10 months ago
    Hey :)
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    So many times, I had to go back and read sentences or even paragraphs over to try to figure out what the author thought she was saying. What passes for a good read with professional critics baffles me. Besides that, I couldn't muster up any concern for the characters. Don't bother with this one.