"Easy to read and engaging...I, for one, am eager for another volume on life in Burgundy.”
—Eric Asimov, The New York Times
“Wine lovers, Francophiles and anyone who roots for dreamers will want to raise a glass to Ray Walker.”
“Walker is a deft writer; as with the wines of his beloved destination, a light touch makes for a more engaging product. . . . riveting reading. But the human side, especially the thoroughly French characters and Walker’s saintly spouse, makes this an engaging account for anyone to savor on the patio or by the fireplace—a glass of wine optional, but recommended.”
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“An intoxicating tale…Mr. Walker’s story is sure to inspire a few more leaps of faith.”
“Completely disarming…utterly charming writing voice…If Ray Walker is the new face of winemaking…let the counter-reformation begin.”
“An appealing success story and a wide-eyed homage to Burgundy.”
“In this rich account, Walker chronicles his five-year journey from Northern California to the French countryside with self-deprecating humor and earnestness. . . . Wine geeks will enjoy Walker's blow-by-blow account of the winemaking process. Those less inclined to appreciate wine's back story can revel in his descriptions of Burgundy's food and lifestyle. Walker's tale evokes the exquisite thrill of finding and following your passion, no matter how crazy it might seem.”
“Walker’s energy and warmth lift this book.”
"The main appeal is the amazing story of how someone was able to realize his seemingly farfetched dream."
—New York Journal of Books
"True oenophiles will love it. . . . a great summer read."
"Readers who share his passion for fine wine will be entertained by his detailed descriptions."
Drinking wine and talking about it is pretty much a given when you live in California’s Bay Area, near multitudes of vineyards. Nevertheless, Walker inherited a disdain for wine from his parents who proclaimed it a drink for snobs. But during a trip to Italy with his fiancée, Walker tasted a new world. “I took a bite of my spaghetti, working the tender noodles and rich tomato, herb and olive oil around in my mouth, and then swished with a sip of wine. It was alchemy.” His curiosity about wines blossomed, then grew into a full-blown obsession, until he found himself living out his dream in the vineyards of Burgundy and making a wine of his own. In this rich account, Walker chronicles his five-year journey from Northern California to the French countryside with self-deprecating humor and earnestness. Whether he’s learning French from cable television, convincing his wife of the validity of his plan, deconstructing the terroir of Burgundy, or negotiating a price for some of the “most precious grapes in the world,” Walker fearlessly plunges in. Wine geeks will enjoy Walker’s blow-by-blow account of the winemaking process. Those less inclined to appreciate wine’s back story can revel in his descriptions of Burgundy’s food and lifestyle. Walker’s tale evokes the exquisite thrill of finding and following your passion, no matter how crazy it might seem. Agent: Sharon Bowers, Miller Bowers Griffin Literary. (July)
A family man recounts the improbable journey that made him a critically acclaimed winemaker in France. Walker never understood the fuss over the drink around which an entire culture and industry was built in his native California. It wasn't until a trip to Italy on which he proposed to his wife, a grounded and supportive voice throughout the story, that he fell in love with a restaurant's house wine. The experience turned him into a self-proclaimed wine geek who bought gadgets, joined online forums and desperately tried to enjoy Bordeaux. Upon accidentally discovering Burgundy wines at a store tasting, Walker and his wife promptly fell in love with this special wine that tasted like "something living and undisturbed in nature." With a baby on the way, Walker quit his stifling job in finance to pursue his dream of making wine. Like the Burgundy monks of centuries past, he sought to shepherd grapes into wine that reflected terroir, instead of overemploying modern techniques. He gained a few months' experience at small California wineries before contacting courtiers (grape brokers) and making two trips to Burgundy, the second of which landed him a deal for grapes from Chambertin, one of the world's most sought-after vineyards, from which no American had ever produced. Walker acknowledges the somewhat miraculous nature of this event, given his inexperience and outsider status, with self-deprecating thrill. From here, the book shakes its initial navel-gazing drag and becomes far more engaging and educational as it acquires characters, plot and pace (even if the writing remains pedestrian). Through diligence and luck, Walker navigated the ins and outs of the local culture and wine business, raised money, protected his wines from the jealous sabotage of another winemaker, processed grapes from three harvests by himself and transferred the wine into caves in a literal race to the finish. An appealing success story and a wide-eyed homage to Burgundy.