Josh Jensen, the wine-besotted hero of this adventure/love story and founder of the small Calera Wine Company, set out to produce a California wine to rival the best French burgundies--an impossible quest, he was told by vintners. De Villiers ( White Tribe Dreaming ) traces Jensen's apprenticeship in the vineyards of France, his frustrating search in California for the right limestone soil and climate, his acquisition of a barely accessible mountainside in the central part of the state and his dedication to his goal, which ruined his marriage. Along the way, the character of the pinot noir grape and the difficulties of its transformation into the ``perfect'' wine become as compelling to the reader as to Jensen and the author. Equally absorbing are the details of financing the winery, bottling, labelling, pricing and marketing the wine. This gracefully written tale will delight anyone who takes pleasure in a good burgundy. Illustrations. (Feb.)
De Villiers embarked on a quest to learn more about an unknown vintner responsible for the superb wine he happened upon in upstate New York. His narrative introduces Josh Jensen, a wonderfully original personality and extraordinary wine maker, who produces California Pinot noir wines comparable to the fine French burgundies. De Villiers traces the history of the Calera vineyards from Jensen's grape-picking days in France to the purchase of limestone-rich California land for his vineyards--which was done in spite of prevailing opinion in the wine trade that the Pinot noir grapes could not be grown successfully in the U.S. This engrossing account has a real air of mystery about it and should have appeal for a broader audience than simply connoisseurs impressed with Jensen's prizewinning wines.