Wine and War: The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France's Greatest Treasure [NOOK Book]


The remarkable untold story of France’s courageous, clever vinters who protected and rescued the country’s most treasured commodity from German plunder during World War II.

"To be a Frenchman means to fight for your country and its wine."
–Claude Terrail, owner, Restaurant La Tour d’Argent

In 1940, France fell to the Nazis and almost ...
See more details below
Wine and War: The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France's Greatest Treasure

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.99 price


The remarkable untold story of France’s courageous, clever vinters who protected and rescued the country’s most treasured commodity from German plunder during World War II.

"To be a Frenchman means to fight for your country and its wine."
–Claude Terrail, owner, Restaurant La Tour d’Argent

In 1940, France fell to the Nazis and almost immediately the German army began a campaign of pillaging one of the assets the French hold most dear: their wine. Like others in the French Resistance, winemakers mobilized to oppose their occupiers, but the tale of their extraordinary efforts has remained largely unknown–until now. This is the thrilling and harrowing story of the French wine producers who undertook ingenious, daring measures to save their cherished crops and bottles as the Germans closed in on them. Wine and War illuminates a compelling, little-known chapter of history, and stands as a tribute to extraordinary individuals who waged a battle that, in a very real way, saved the spirit of France.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Nazis should have realized that the French would protect their Bordeaux better than they did their eastern frontier. In 1940, almost as soon as Paris fell, the German leadership began pillaging one of the country's great national treasures: its wine. For the French, this was unthinkable. Wine was, as the Kladstrups explain, more than a beverage, more than a cultural tradition -- it was France itself. As a result, the wine producers of Burgundy and Alsace devised ploys that no paranoid Gestapo chief ever anticipated.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Both contributors to Wine Spectator, the Kladstrups Don, a distinguished journalist and former TV news correspondent, and his wife, Petie, a freelance writer have unearthed and compiled an array of facts and anecdotes about the significance of French wine to the French and to their enemies and the role of French winemakers during WWII. Basing their account on interviews with survivors and other research, the authors focus on the activities of five winemaking families in Burgundy, Alsace, Champagne, Bordeaux and the Loire Valley. When France fell to Hitler, the Reich sent German wine merchants (whom the French referred to as weinf hrers) to buy as much good French wine as possible and resell it at a large profit. Some Frenchmen, such as Louis Eschenauer (who, after the war, was tried for economic collaboration with the enemy, found guilty and sent to prison), were more than willing to do business with the enemy, but most not only resisted German occupation but also refused to give up their prized vintages to the Germans. For example, though displaced from their ch teau by German soldiers, the Miaihles family made painstaking efforts first to relocate and then to hide some Jewish friends and later helped them escape to Argentina. To get even with the Germans who stole his wine, Jean-Michel Chevreau siphoned wine from barrels that were being shipped to Germany and refilled them with water. Although their book makes for an engaging read, the Kladstrups have organized their material in a rambling manner, which, unfortunately, makes the many names and events discussed easy to confuse. (May 15) Forecast: There will be major review coverage; the authors will make appearances in the San Francisco Bay Area and NPR's Morning Edition has fallen into line. Yet one wonders whether any but the most dedicated oenophiles will care for a book-length account of how France's wines were saved from the Nazis. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Husband-and-wife journalists and contributors to Wine Spectator, the Kladstrups recount the dangerous and daring exploits of those who fought to keep France's greatest treasure out of the hands of the Nazis. Whether they were fobbing off inferior wines on the Germans, hiding precious vintages behind hastily constructed walls, sabotaging shipments being sent out of France, or even sneaking people out of the country in wine barrels, the French proved to be remarkably versatile when it came to protecting their beloved wine. The authors craft a compelling read that shifts back and forth between individual tales of bravery, including those of five prominent wine-making families, and the bigger story of how World War II affected the French wine industry. This history should prove popular with readers who appreciated other books detailing the Nazis' looting of treasures, such as Tom Bower's Nazi Gold (LJ 5/15/97) and Hector Feliciano's The Lost Museum (LJ 8/97). Recommended for public and academic libraries. John Charles, Scottsdale P.L., AZ Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
This unusual survey of the French wine industry might sound initially like a food book; but Wine & War provides an in-depth examination of the French's conflicts with the nazis and the battle for its wine industry. Three years of eyewitness interviews and research lend to stories of the men and women who risked their lives to save their industry from Nazi ruin.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780767913256
  • Publisher: Crown/Archetype
  • Publication date: 6/18/2002
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 123,595
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

The winner of three Emmys and the Alfred I. DuPont--Columbia University, Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, and Overseas Press Club of America awards for his journalism, Don Kladstrup is one of America's most distinguished network television news correspondents. His wife, Petie Kladstrup, is a freelance writer who has written widely about France and French life. Contributors to Wine Spectator, the Kladstrups divide their time between Paris and Normandy.

From the Hardcover edition.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt


To Love the Vines

It was late august 1939, and French winemakers were fretting about the harvest. Two months earlier, the outlook had been bright. The weather had been good and there was the promise of an excellent vintage. Then the weather changed. For six straight weeks it rained, and temperatures plummeted.

So did the mood of winegrowers attending the International Congress of the Vine and Wine in the resort of Bad Kreuznach, Germany. The weather was all they could think about—that is, until the next speaker was announced. He was Walter Darre, the Minister of Food Supply and Agriculture for the Third Reich. Winegrowers had been jolted when they first walked into the convention hall and discovered a large portrait of Darre's boss, Adolf Hitler, dominating the room. Like the rest of the world, they had watched with growing alarm as Hitler annexed Austria, carved up Czechoslovakia and signed a military agreement with Italy's dictator, Benito Mussolini. Many, fearful that full-scale war was just one step away, felt sure Darre would have something to say about the latest events.

But when the Reichsminister took the podium, he did not speak about the war. He did not even talk about wine. Instead, he called for the Congress delegates to go beyond the concerns of wine and winemaking and work instead to "advance the mutual understanding of peaceful peoples." Those in the audience were thoroughly confused.

What they did not know was that at almost the same moment Hitler himself was giving a very different kind of speech—this one to his high command—in another German resort, Berchtesgaden, the favored vacation spot of the Nazi leadership. The Fuhrer was telling his generals what was coming next and exhorting them to remember, "Our opponents are little worms. . . . What matters in beginning and waging war is not righteousness but victory. Close your hearts to pity. Proceed brutally."

Within a week, his forces invaded Poland. The date was September 1, 1939. French winegrowers at the conference were promptly summoned home. Two days later, France, along with Britain, Australia and New Zealand, declared war on Germany.

For the second time in little more than a generation, French winegrowers faced the agonizing prospect of trying to get their harvest in before vineyards were turned into battlefields. As in 1914, the government mounted an extraordinary campaign to help. Winegrowers were granted delays in being called to active duty, military labor detachments were sent to the vineyards and farm horses of small growers were not to be requisitioned until the harvest was completed.

Memories of that earlier war, "the war to end all wars," still haunted them—the brutality, the hardships and especially the staggering loss of life. Out of a population of 40 million, nearly a million and a half young men were killed, men who would have entered their most productive years had they survived. Another million lost limbs or were so badly wounded that they could no longer work.

It was a bloodletting that left almost no family in France untouched: not the Drouhins of Burgundy, the Miaihles of Bordeaux, the de Nonancourts of Champagne, the Hugels of Alsace, nor the Huets of the Loire Valley.

Gaston Huet's father returned home an invalid, his lungs permanently scarred after his army unit was attacked with mustard gas.

Bernard de Nonancourt's father also suffered the ravages of trench warfare and died of wounds soon after the war.

The mother of Jean Miaihle lost her entire family when German troops attacked their village in northern France.

The Hugel family, which had lost its French heritage and nationality when Alsace was annexed by Germany after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, sent their son away so that he could escape being drafted into the German army.

Maurice Drouhin, a veteran of trench warfare, escaped physical injury but not the nightmares which haunted him for years afterward.

Like nearly everyone else in France, these winemaking families watched with trepidation as the specter of another war approached. Although France had been the winner earlier, it had paid a terrible price. Could it afford another such victory? Many in France doubted it, especially Maurice Drouhin, who had witnessed the horrors of war close up.

Thoughts of his family and vineyard were all that comforted him as he huddled with his men in the muddy blood-soaked trenches of northern France, peering at the enemy across a strip of no-man's-land. Although the winter of 1915 still had that part of the country in its grip, Maurice knew that back home in Burgundy, the vines already would be stirring and workers would be busy pruning. If he closed his eyes, he could almost picture it, the men with their secateurs working their way slowly down the long rows of vines; and he could almost hear the church bells that called them to work each day.

Those bells were the first sounds Maurice heard each morning when he awoke in his home in Beaune. For him, they were the background music to life in the vineyards. They rolled across the villages and wheat fields, they sent children racing to school and mothers scurrying to markets for the freshest produce of the day. They heralded lunchtime, dinnertime, and called people to worship, and to celebrate. But as World War I ground on, they were calling more and more people to mourn.

Now, on the battlefields of northern France, the sounds that surrounded Maurice were artillery and machine-gun fire and the agonized cries of the wounded. In the heat of one battle, he saw a German soldier crumple to the ground, unable to move after being shot. With German troops too frightened to venture into the storm of bullets to retrieve their comrade, Maurice ordered his men to cease firing while he raised a white flag. Then, in impeccable German, he shouted to the Germans, "Come get your man. We will hold our fire until you have him." The Germans moved quickly to rescue their fallen comrade. Before returning behind the lines, however, they halted directly in front of Maurice and saluted him.

Later, in a letter to his wife, Pauline, Maurice described the incident. Pauline was so moved that she passed the story on to the local newspaper, which published it. Headlined "The Glorious Hours," the article said, "The glorious hours sound not just for heroic action on the battlefield but also for those activities that occur in daily life, for it is when war is over that a soldier's heart and character are also revealed."

Maurice was highly decorated for his military service. Among his awards was the Distinguished Service Medal from the United States government, a medal for which he had been nominated by Douglas MacArthur. But as proud as Maurice was of that medal and his life in the military, it was his life in the vineyards that held even greater meaning for him—one that beckoned him home when the "war to end all wars" had finally ended.

* * *

That life was one of legend and myth, a life which, in many ways, had changed little since the Middle Ages. "It was a simpler time in the vineyards," Maurice's son Robert recalled years later. "We had a way of living, a way of making wine that was natural and tres ancienne."

It was made the way their grandfathers and great-grandfathers had made it. There were no experts to rely on, so everyone followed the traditions they knew and had grown up with. Plowing was done with horses. Planting, picking and pruning were done according to the phases of the moon. Older people often reminded younger ones that the merits of pruning were discovered when St. Martin's donkey got loose in the vineyards.

It happened, they said, in 345 a.d. when St. Martin, dressed in animal skins and riding on a donkey, went out to inspect some of the vineyards that belonged to his monastery near Tours in the Loire Valley. He was a lover of wine and had done much over the years to educate monks about the latest viticultural practices. On this occasion, St. Martin tethered his donkey to a row of vines while he went about his business. He was gone for several hours. When he returned, he discovered to his horror that his donkey had been munching the vines and that some had been chewed right down to the trunk. Next year, however, the monks were surprised when they saw that those same vines were the very ones which grew back the most abundantly and produced the best grapes. The lesson was not lost on the monks, and as centuries passed, pruning became part of every winegrower's routine.

Days began early and lasted until the work was done. There were no fixed hours. As they pruned, checked for maladies, tied back shoots that had come loose—day after day, week after week, month after month—workers came to know each vine personally. There was an almost mystical connection as they let the vines set the rhythm and pace of life.

After picking, grapes were crushed with bare feet. The must, or grape juice, was then poured into giant vats, followed by a process called pigeage, in which naked workers plunged themselves into the frothy liquid. Holding tightly to chains that had been fastened to overhead beams, the workers would then raise and lower themselves over and over again, stirring the must with their entire bodies so as to aerate the mixture and enhance the fermentation. It was a dangerous exercise. Hardly a harvest went by without some workers losing their grip and drowning, or being asphyxiated by the carbonic gas given off by the fermenting juice. Victims were almost always men, since women, in some parts of France, were barred from the chai, or winery, during harvesttime. Their presence, according to superstition, would turn the wine sour.

Yet harvesttime was always the happiest time of the year. When the last grapes were picked and loaded onto a horse-drawn wagon, workers would gather wildflowers to decorate the cart and to make a bouquet for the lady of the house. She would hang the bouquet above the entry to the cave, where it would stay until the next harvest to bring good luck—and good wine—to the house. Others would even scatter grape leaves on the floor to encourage the "good spirits" not to leave.

Time, then, was almost magical; it felt never-ending, Robert Drouhin recalled. During walks through the vineyards, he and his father often stopped for long, rambling conversations with the workers.

"People seemed to have more character then. They never hesitated to tell my father what they thought or how they believed things should be done, and my father was always ready to listen. Those were the moments when I learned to love the vines."

Unfortunately, those vines were in miserable shape. The years between the wars had brought mostly misery to winemakers, who suffered through a string of horrible vintages—and not just because of the weather. Battles that had raged during World War I had rendered vineyards, especially those in Champagne, practically lifeless. They had been sliced up by trenches and blown apart by artillery and mortar shells, which left enormous craters in the ground. Worse were the chemical shells that leaked into the soil, poisoning the vineyards for years to come.

World War I had arrived just when winegrowers were beginning to recover from another crisis. Phylloxera, a tiny insect that attacks the roots of grapevines, had invaded France in the middle of the nineteenth century, reducing vast areas of vineyard to what one winegrower described as "rows of bare wooden stumps—resembling huge graveyards." Over the next thirty years, the disease would spread to every vineyard in the country, prompting the government to offer a 300,000-franc prize to anyone who could find a cure. All kinds of ideas were suggested, ranging from the bizarre—planting a live toad beneath each vine—to the hopeful—watering vineyards with white wine. Some growers flooded their vineyards with seawater; others sprayed their vines with a vast array of chemicals or simply burned them. Nothing seemed to work.

The remedy, as it turned out, was something totally un-French. Growers discovered that by grafting their vines onto American rootstocks, which were naturally resistant to the root-eating louse, they could save their vines. It was a long and costly process. Vineyards had to be uprooted and replanted. Then growers had to wait several years for their vines to begin bearing fruit, and even longer for them to reach full maturity.

Just when things began looking up after World War I, disaster struck again. This time it was the Great Depression, and the effect on the wine industry was devastating. In Champagne, major houses could no longer afford to buy grapes from their growers. In Alsace, huge numbers of winegrowers went bankrupt. Those in Bordeaux were forced to accept prices that were below the national average—the first time in history that had happened. In Burgundy, wine production fell 40 percent as nearly half the vineyards went uncultivated. Even the great Domaine de la Romanee-Conti was floundering, but the family which owned it was determined to hold on to it. "My father felt it was like a beautiful jewel a woman has in her jewelry box," Aubert de Villaine recalled. "She would not wear it every day, but she was determined to keep it so she could pass it on to her children."

To do that, de Villaine's father did what many other winegrowers were forced to do to survive: he took on another job. It was his third. He was already managing the family farm and running Romanee-Conti; now he started working in a bank as well. "My father was constantly busy; he never stopped," de Villaine said, "but that is how much he loved Romanee-Conti and he spent every spare moment working there."

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations viii
Introduction 1
1 To Love the Vines 13
2 Nomads 35
3 The Weinfuhrers 57
4 Hiding, Fibbing and Fobbing Off 91
5 The Growling Stomach 109
6 Wolves at the Door 137
7 The Fete 155
8 Saving the Treasure 173
9 Eagle's Nest 195
10 The Collaborator 205
11 I Came Home Not Young Anymore 223
Epilogue 240
Glossary 250
Notes 257
Bibliography 270
Acknowledgments 275
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 26 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2015

    Not bad

    Not bad

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 28, 2013

    I received this book from my grandfather (?) a decade ago. I wi

    I received this book from my grandfather (?) a decade ago. I wish I had read it when he was still alive so I could talk to him about the events in this book. Like me, he was a Francophile and we shared stories of the different trips we took around France. He fought in WWII, but never spoke about his time code-breaking. I wonder if discussing this book could have opened that door.

    This was an interesting look at the economics of wine during Hitler's reign and the Occupation of France. The histories of the different vineyards, the details of the wines, and the stories of the owners--some who were left to run the vineyards and others who were in hiding or sent to concentration camps--make this book come alive.

    And though war is a solemn subject, humor makes itself known throughout the novel. My favorite is the section about the wolves:

    The grapes had an "exhilarating effect" on the wolves. "I suspect the stomach of the wolf is so constructed that the fermentation of the fruit juices proceeds rapidly after the animal has eaten the grapes. At any rate, intoxication is frequently the result."

    Monsieur Le Brun says he recalls seeing a drunken pack running by his home. "...the wolves were all intoxicated. That was what caused them to run into the town in the first place, and it was also what saved the townsfolk after they had come in. They were too drunk to remember that they were wolves...they just lay down in the street, stupidly drunk."

    This book isn't for everyone: if wine isn't your drink of choice, or you don't care about French wines, then you'll probably find this too dry to swallow.*

    * pun not intended, but it totally works

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2012

    Well done

    This book differs from the other books i have read concerning the resistance and WWII. It presents a personal view point of many involved and the various complications which arose during their time under Nazi rule. But it was the desire to survive along with somehow keeping the vineyards producing and old wines safe - that brought this book alive.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2010

    My New Favorite!

    I was totally engrossed in this book from the second I picked it up. If you like France, wine, or history you will enjoy this book. I applauded the people who helped fleeing Jewish families and smiled knowingly when the winemakers remained a few steps of the Nazis, hiding their best vintages and sending watered down wines in their place.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2004

    Great Read

    What a great tale. Filled with fact and intrigued. Great narrative with stories from all over the wine world of France. A true story told well. I loved it!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2002

    Not bad, but get it at the library

    The book is a good, light read, but as a reader I felt distant from the people and events. Considering I read it cover-to-cover in two evenings I should have borrowed it from the library.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2001

    A First Class Effort

    The Kladstrups have written a fine account about a little known aspect of both the wine world and World War II. The myriad machinations of French winemakers to keep their best wines out of German Army cellars are fascinating. So too are the many tales of subterfuge: some subtle, some rather dangerously overt. I first met Don Kladstrup in 1976, when he was a reporter for CBS News and I was a freelance cameraman. We spent much time together during the hostage crisis in Iran. When you read WINE & WAR, be sure to have a glass of fine Bordeaux at your side- it adds a certain air of verisimilitude.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)