The Winemakers

The Winemakers

by Jan Moran


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250048912
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 04/05/2016
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 313,283
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

JAN MORAN is the author of the novel Scent of Triumph, and Fabulous Fragrances I and II, which earned spots on the Rizzoli Bookstore bestseller list. A fragrance and beauty expert, she has been featured in numerous publications and on television and radio, including CNN, Instyle, and O Magazine, and has spoken before prestigious organizations, including The American Society of Perfumers. She earned her MBA from Harvard Business school and attended the University of California at Los Angeles Extension Writers' Program.

Read an Excerpt

The Winemakers

By Jan Moran

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2016 Jan Moran
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-09118-5



"Sign here, Miss Rosetta." The attorney slid several typewritten documents across his immense oak desk. In his gnarled outstretched hand speckled with brown age spots was a pointed mother-of-pearl fountain pen.

Seated across the desk, Caterina pressed her fingers against her damp collarbone. How can I do this? The writing instrument might as well have been a dagger for her heart.

Caterina fanned her face with a cherry blossom paper fan she'd bought in Chinatown. Where is the breeze off the San Francisco Bay? It was an unseasonably humid day in the city, a day so scorching it rendered her mind sluggish. Or was that only an excuse for evading the decision she could not bring herself to make?

Fumbling in her purse, she drew out a wrinkled monogrammed handkerchief embroidered by her own hand. The linen held the milky, sweet scent of her little girl, now a year old. Marisa. She dabbed her neckline and face, stalling the inevitable. She placed the handkerchief and fan in the lap of her light wool skirt and struggled to compose herself.

In the outer office, a typewriter's staccato rhythm jangled her nerves, each strike an assault on her sanity.

"Miss Rosetta, we've been through this before. My clients are growing impatient." Harold Exeter straightened his crooked frame and stood behind her. "I must have your signature today."


This was her last day with her daughter. Tomorrow morning, Caterina would hug Marisa and kiss her good-bye forever. Her throat closed and her breath became shallow.

She swallowed the lump in her throat and fought to lift her leaden wrist, but she could not. To her horror, the lawyer clenched her hand, wrapped her trembling fingers around the pen, and positioned it over the contract. He clamped her shoulder with his other hand. All at once, the air in the office grew thick. She gasped for breath.

His bony grip on her hand tightened. "You have already agreed to their offer."

Indeed she had. Nevertheless, she instinctively flung her hand from his grip, dropped the pen, and pushed the documents away as if they were contaminated. Dark ink splattered like wine across neat pages that threatened to extinguish the only pure joy she had in her life.

"Is it more money you want?" Mr. Exeter's voice had an edge she hadn't heard before.

Caterina snatched her purse, dug out the lawyer's crumpled check, and flung it onto the desk. "I don't even want the money you gave me," she snapped. Distraught, she sank her face into her hands, her breath coming in short rasps.

"That was for your medical bills and rent." The attorney shifted on his feet and waited for her to regain control. Once she did, he eased himself into a chair next to her. His demeanor softened. "Miss Rosetta, I'm a father and a grandfather. I know how difficult this is for you. But adoption is the best alternative. If you love your child, how can you subject her to a life of shame?"

Caterina's eyes glistened, and a moan escaped her lips. There was nothing she wouldn't do for Marisa. Yet the motherly instincts of her heart and the rational judgment of her head warred within her.

"Do you want her to suffer the brand of illegitimacy for life?" His voice dropped a notch. "Don't make your child pay for your mistake. She needs a family."

She agreed. And she'd tried to do just that, though she had failed. Faith, the kind woman who ran the small maternity home where she'd been living, had warned her. The longer she waited to give up her baby, the more gut-wrenching it would be.

But Caterina had to know, beyond any doubt, that this was the best decision for Marisa. She could bear nothing less. Clutching her handkerchief, she intercepted the tears that spilled from her lids. "I must meet them."

"I beg your pardon?"

"The new ... couple," she managed to say, instead of parents. Caterina's skin crawled with unease.

"I'm afraid that's impossible."

Caterina shoved the fan and handkerchief into her purse and sprang from the chair.

Immediately, Mr. Exeter placed a firm hand on her arm. "That is, it's highly irregular." He shook his graying head as if it were the worst imaginable deed. "But I can inquire." He glanced at his wristwatch. "We hadn't much time left. Will you sign the documents today?"

Caterina bit her lip. "If I like them."

"My dear, they are the finest people. Your question should be, will they love and care for your daughter? I assure you, they will. However, I shall try to contact them with this unusual request. Nevertheless, in good faith, your signature will be required first." He scooped up the documents. "If you'll wait in the reception area, I'll have this first page retyped."

Caterina felt as if she were suffocating. "I need air. I'll wait outside."

Once she was outside, her step faltered, and she leaned against the brick building, gulping air thickened with humidity. She watched steam waffle from the pavement in waves. This cloying summer heat was nearby Napa Valley weather — good for ripening grapes — but it was a temperature seldom seen in San Francisco.

Although she had a decent job in the city, she ached for the panoramic views from her mother's high-perched vineyard, the scent of soil rich enough to yield the finest wine, and the sound of birdsong on breeze-cooled evenings. She had grown up at the vineyard; it was an idyllic setting for a child.

And yet she could not return with Marisa. Illegitimate. Why did society pin labels of hatred on innocent children? Why were families robbed of their precious children, all in the name of propriety?

Marisa. All at once, Caterina sensed an inexplicable draw toward her little girl. She brushed salty tears from her cheeks.

Her skin crawled with a sudden urgency. Marisa needs me. As if in a trance, she turned and began walking in the direction of her car.

In the logical recesses of her mind, she knew she should stay and sign the final adoption papers. "It's the loving thing to do," Faith had told her this morning before she'd left the house. Caterina had agreed. She was not a young woman prone to dereliction of her duties.

She had seen other women at the maternity home give up their babies, some mere hours after giving birth. A few girls were heartbroken over lost lovers, while others bravely maintained they were glad to be rid of the product of rape or incest. Yet she had witnessed the tears and agony etched on each face after they'd handed their tiny offspring to a nurse, never to see their child again. Never to feel a heartbeat flutter against their chests in the small hours of the night. Never to see the first loving smile of recognition or hear the first cry of "Mama."

Their inconsolable sobs still rang in her ears.

Something is dreadfully wrong. Her heart palpitating, Caterina quickened her step, brushing past people on the crowded sidewalk.

At first, she'd refused to give up Marisa, hoping to hear from her child's father, the man she loved. Praying for a miracle. "You've waited too long," Faith had told her months later. "You must make a decision for the good of the child."

Caterina sniffed the air, detecting a trace scent of thundershowers. Clouds shadowed the sun.

"Excuse me." Caterina pushed past a group of meandering students. She stepped off the curb and dodged a taxi pulling to the corner. Her chest tightened. Her car was parked in the next block down the hill. She shed her jacket and broke into a trot.

Breathing heavily, she increased her pace. She had to reach Marisa. Was it a mother's instinct? Frantic now, Caterina ran down the hilly street, her purse knocking against her side, her high heels clattering on the sidewalk.

She reached her car and flung open the door of her turquoise Chevrolet Bel Air with pointed rear fender fins. Her mother had given her the car when she'd moved to San Francisco for college. She turned the key in the ignition and pumped the gas pedal. She had to reach Marisa as soon as possible. She didn't know why, but she knew it was dire.

A fat raindrop splattered her windshield, and then another, and another. She flicked on her wipers and pushed the large sedan as fast as she dared on city streets. By the time she arrived at the maternity home, sheets of rain were battering her car.

She parked down the street and then raced through the downpour past old Victorian homes, which lined the way like pastel macarons. Turning in, she hurried up the steps and passed under a canopy of ornate fretwork freshly painted in lemon yellow, mint green, and cornflower blue. Panic rose in her throat. She pushed open the door and pounded up the stairs, leaving a trail of water in her path.

Caterina gripped the doorjamb of the children's nursery in the old home overlooking the bay. Half a dozen playpens with babies lined the perimeter. Paintings of giraffes, monkeys, and elephants adorned the walls, mocking her with their cheerful countenances.

Marisa was pulling up on her railing, teetering on strong, developing legs. A well-dressed, middle-aged couple stood next to Marisa's playpen, exclaiming over her.

"What are you doing?" Caterina demanded, brushing damp hair from her forehead. They've come too soon. Terror seized her. She wasn't ready.

Faith O'Connell hurried to her side, embarrassment stamped on her reddened face. "This is Mr. and Mrs. Anderson. They wanted to visit today while you were out. You're back early," she added in an apologetic tone, fumbling with the top button on her green-checked housedress.

A woman with perfectly coiffed blond hair jerked her head around and glared at Faith. "You said she wouldn't be here." She turned a withering gaze on Caterina.

Mrs. Anderson's lips twitched with disdain as she took in Caterina's rain-stained shoes and wet hair.

Caterina flicked away errant strands plastered to her flushed cheeks. She shrugged free of Faith, but before she could reach Marisa, Mrs. Anderson picked up her baby. Caterina's heart thudded.

"How are you, darling?" the woman cooed, kissing Marisa's cheek. "Would you like to come home with us?"

Marisa's lower lip began to tremble, and her eyes sought out Caterina.

"Get away from her. I'm her mother." Fuming, Caterina crossed the room in long strides, intent on rescuing her beautiful dark-haired girl from the woman's pale arms.

Mr. Anderson wore a charcoal suit and a grim expression. "We came here to adopt this little girl. We can give her a good home. Don't you want to do what's best for her?"

Caterina yanked her daughter from his wife and pressed Marisa's trembling little body to her chest. She turned her back to the couple, shielding Marisa from their prying eyes. She couldn't let her go. "I am doing what's best for her."

Her russet curls quivering with distress, Faith hurried to Caterina's side. "A child needs a mother and a father, dear."

"We wanted a little blond-haired girl, but we'll take her," Mrs. Anderson said. "She has such a pretty smile and the brightest blue eyes we've ever seen."

"And a sweet nature," her husband added. "We adopted a boy last year, and this girl is for my wife. It's her birthday today."

Caterina was livid. "You can't pick out a baby like a birthday gift. And certainly not my child."

"Mr. Exeter assured us we had an agreement." Mr. Anderson jabbed a finger in the air. "You must be reasonable. How will you care for her?" He looked at her with contempt.

"I have a college education and a good job," Caterina said with pride. "I'm a sommelier at the St. Francis Hotel."

"Isn't that like a bartender?" Mrs. Anderson narrowed her eyes and shrank back with disgust.

"Surely you're exaggerating." Her husband snorted. "No place would hire a woman as a sommelier."

Caterina ignored his jibe. "I'm not giving her up, and that's final." Marisa began crying at her mother's distress, and Caterina patted her back. "It's okay, sweetheart. Mommy's here."

"Oh dear," Faith said, wringing her hands. "You must understand that Miss Rosetta is distraught."

"Rosetta? Well, she's a hotheaded Italian. That explains everything." The woman peered down her nose at Caterina. "Come, Fred, I don't think we want this one after all. She'd probably grow up to be just as willful as her mother."

"Get out," Caterina said through clenched teeth.

The woman shifted her large leather purse on her arm and wedged past Caterina, her sharp heels clicking on the wooden floor, punctuating Marisa's wails.

Her husband trailed behind her, glaring at Caterina. "You've spoiled her birthday, you know. And you'll regret this decision."

After the Andersons stormed out, tears welled in Caterina's eyes. She rocked Marisa in her arms, soothing her.

Faith clucked her tongue. "My dear, you must think of Marisa's welfare. It's been a year now. If you wait any longer, it's going to be very difficult for her to adjust to a new family. The Andersons were good people. They would have grown to love her."

"But I love her. I'm enough for her."

"You must face facts. Why, a lovely girl like you can start over and marry a nice boy. No man wants another man's child." Faith paused. "You never heard from the father?"

The father. Caterina shook her head, feeling as if her heart had surely sustained injury. For years they'd been the closest of childhood friends, delighted in each other, read each other's mind, and only recently, as adults, had succumbed to a newfound passion. But now, Marisa was all that remained of their expression of desire. "My mother was widowed, and she raised me alone. I can do this."

"There's a vast difference in our society between a widow and a single woman with an illegitimate child. Think of the stigma she will suffer. Is that what you want for your child?"

Caterina looked at her little girl. Marisa's tears had dried, and a smile crept onto her face. Caterina's heart melted like sweet honey. Her little girl's vivid blue eyes were round and innocent and perfect replicas of her father's eyes. Caterina couldn't let her go. Marisa was all she had of the man she would love forever. "She stays with me."

"We only want what's best for you." Faith heaved a great sigh.

Caterina peppered Marisa with kisses, relieved that she'd gotten there in time. Faith and Patrick O'Connell were fair with the unwed mothers who came to them, and Caterina knew they wouldn't have allowed the Andersons to take Marisa without her permission — unlike some of the other oppressive maternity homes she'd visited — but the mere thought of strangers fawning over Marisa curdled her stomach.

Caterina vowed never to let anyone try to take Marisa from her again. She would do whatever it took to keep her child, and as far as she was concerned, society and its snotty judgments could go straight to hell.

"It's not that we don't love you and Marisa." Faith's expression was earnest. "But you must know you're running out of options, dear."

Caterina squeezed her eyes against Faith's stinging words. Faith had once been a nun, and her mission in life was to be of service to others. But Caterina found it difficult to face her dilemma.

Instead, she closed her eyes and savored the warmth and pressure of Marisa's body against her own. Her sweet, powdery scent always brought a rush of joy to Caterina, but today her emotions were in tatters. A swath of wavy dark hair soft as duckling's down lay against Marisa's smooth, olive-toned cheek. Caterina stroked her baby's skin in a feathery caress. "My precious girl," she murmured. Marisa closed her eyes, snuggling against her bosom. Caterina stroked her hair, stifling a cry. How could I have thought to let her go?

Faith put a hand on Caterina's shoulder. "If you won't consider adoption, can you go home to the vineyard in Napa? Perhaps your mother will relent if she meets Marisa."

Caterina shook her head vehemently. "Going home to Mille Étoiles would be disastrous. My mother will never forgive me." Years ago, when Caterina had crossed the threshold into womanhood, her mother had warned her against the mistakes a girl might make. Sex before marriage, pregnancy, illegitimate children. Utterly unforgivable.


Excerpted from The Winemakers by Jan Moran. Copyright © 2016 Jan Moran. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Winemakers 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! Very interesting story with the mother and daughter and wine making!
Bethany05 More than 1 year ago
Where do I begin? This is by far one of the best books of 2016 hands down. I have not been able to put it down since the day I received it in the mail. It has this way to draw you in as a reader, you feel a special connection to each and every one of the characters. Caterina has gone away to school and is living her life the way she sees fit and then one day spends time with a friend she has known all her life and after their special night together everything changes. Caterina has become pregnant and is not married and the father is not in the picture. She wants so badly to go home, but she knows her mother will never accept her daughter. Just when she is about the adopt her away, Caterina can't go through with it. This is her own daughter, her flesh and blood and she will raise her and love her even if she is a single mother on her own shunned by society. When Caterina returns home she learns that she has just inherited some property from her long lost family in Italy, she thinks that her luck is turning around, just when she needed a home for her and her daughter she is given one by her late grandmother that she never had the chance to meet. But life is not as easy at it seems. She packs up and takes her daughter to Italy and is treated with a cold shoulder from almost every living family member that she has. They are infuriated that she was left the home, the outsider. Not only does the home come with issues, then her mothers lies start to unravel little by little. How could her mother lie to her all her life? Will she ever be able to trust her again? Will her mother ever accept her daughter or will she be shunned forever? Then her daughter's father re-appears, she is torn between telling him about his daughter or pretending that she doesn't exist to keep her away from him for good. She is still in love with him and can't get him out of her mind, but again a deep dark family secret comes to light, will their love survive or will they just be ships passing in the night, never to see each other again. There are so many amazing story lines woven through out and I would love to talk about each and every one till the early hours of the morning. But I can not, you must experience this novel for your self and you will fall in love as I have.
BettyTaylor More than 1 year ago
I gave her “Scent of Triumph” four stars, but this one is undeniably a FIVE! Loved it, loved it. This book is about family – the struggles, the secrets, the salvation. The subtitle “A Novel of Wine and Secrets” is totally apropos. Caterina Rosetta is hiding a huge secret from her mother. But her mother has her own secrets. Dreams dashed, futures uncertain. Caterina has grown up on the family-owned vineyard in Napa, California. But now she is at odds with her mother Ava over the daughter Caterina has kept secret. The unexpected notice that she has inherited a vineyard in Tuscany could not have come at a better time. Shortly after her arrival in Italy the family secrets begin to be revealed to her. She learns that Ava kept serious information from her in the belief that she was protecting her daughter. But now Caterina has to deal with the consequences resulting from this “protection”. How can she forgive her mother, and how does she tell the love of her life these secrets – secrets that will possibly destroy them? How can life be so cruel? Caterina’s story is set in 1956, while Ava’s story is in 1928. Things were much different for women then. A child out of wedlock could destroy your reputation, and men had to give permission for their wives to handle financial transactions. How difficult it must have been then for the women who refused to follow the norm. Having once lived near Napa Valley (and frequently visited the wineries) I especially loved the setting. The book is beautifully written with luscious descriptions of the Napa region and the wonderful wines produced there. The characters became my family and I rejoiced with them and felt broken-hearted along with the characters when dreams seemed inevitably dashed. I was emotionally spent when reached that last chapter. Jan Moran is AMAZING!
gsbarbie More than 1 year ago
What a richly woven tale of family secrets, romance and wine! The Winemakers is a book that you won't want to put down. I was quickly drawn into the lives of Caterina and her mother Ava. I definitely wanted a happy ending for them both, but with all the twists and turns in the book, I wasn't sure if a happy ending was in store for them. I find the 1950s an interesting time in history and thought the author captured the era well. The author describes the scenery of the Napa Valley, Italy and Paris with such lush details that I was nearly inspired to plan a trip for myself. I learned much about the process of making wine and gained a greater appreciation for the work involved. The Winemakers was the first novel I have read by Ms. Moran and I look forward to reading more books in the future. I received this book courtesy of St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review.
lC_reader More than 1 year ago
Best enjoyed while swirling a glass of Brunello. If you love wine and romance, The Winemakers is the book for you. Jan Moran weaves fascinating details about wine vintages and the winemaking process into her story about two generations of women who excel in this formerly male dominated field. Learn about grapes from France, Italy and early Napa as you enjoy a sizzling romance or two.
csmmom More than 1 year ago
From the very first pages, I was hooked. I wanted to read this book without stopping and savor it all at the same time. I didn't want it to end and when it did, I missed the characters. The characters were so beautifully written and the story was heartfelt. This is a novel about the secrets we keep in order to try and protect those we love. It is about family; those related by blood and those that we surround ourselves with. It is about wine and the joy and work that goes into making it. Read my full review on my blog.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Page turner…I inhaled the book in one evening! The little lies spiral into enormous deceptions that rock lives and threaten to up end all that Ava and Caterina have built and loved. Vivid details of 1950s Napa, Paris and Tuscany whisked me away on a romantic escapade and kept me routing for Caterina and Santo’s happy ever after. I received the ARC from the publisher for a fair and honest review.
Griperang72a More than 1 year ago
*This is a review in progress as I received this book late in order to do a full review today* I am enjoying the writing style of this author. She is good with the descriptions and the character development. The story has caught my attention and is flowing nicely. I like that there is a bit of mystery in this story and can't wait to see how it all unfolds with what is going on. I like how Caterina is a strong woman and running her own vineyard alongside her mother. I am looking forward to seeing how this book ends and how all the secrets play out.
TheBunny1 More than 1 year ago
First, with this you need to drink wine. Not because it is bad so you need the alcohol but because you spend so much time talking about wine, hearing about wine, and learning about wine that you want wine. Was that just me? Probably not. The detail and the depth given to the locations, the story and the characters draws you in with this one, from the beginning. The characters are so strong, to go through all that they do, the choices they have to make, the things that they have to deal with and still be able to function and get through it. This review is not easy to write. It really is a novel about wine, and about secrets, just like it claims on the cover...and part of the great page turning fun of this one is that it is written in such a way that even if you have a pretty good idea where it is going, it is still a lot of fun getting there...of finding out exactly how it will get to where it ends up. The writing is amazing, the pages turn themselves, I can say that much without giving anything away. This is my first novel by this author, but it won't be my last. ***ARC Provided by the Publisher and NetGalley***
kharderschauer More than 1 year ago
I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The cover and title of this book made me think of Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave and I've always enjoyed historical fiction so I was excited to dive in. It absolutely did not disappoint. As a modern feminist, I spend large portions of the book irritated at the beliefs and actions of society in general. I realize that the attitudes were commonplace in the 1950s, when this book is set, and it makes me so thankful that I was born after the big push of the women's rights movement. I definitely had no problem relating to Caterina and Ava and their issues with society's attitudes toward strong, independent women. The story got off to kind of a slow start for me, building the mystery and anticipation. There was a lot of "I can't ever let her know this very important secret" kind of stuff going on, and it was kind of obvious that these secrets should really be divulged (although maybe I just wanted that because I didn't get to know what most of them were either in the beginning.) Once the story picked up, it had me on the edge of my seat until the very end. There may have been some squealing involved (and pleading, ranting, and a bit of hoping as well if I'm being totally honest). I probably sounded like a certified lunatic for the last 30% of the book. Overall I give The Winemakers 5 out of 5 stars because it was just that good. I would highly recommend it. Reviewed on Just Another Girl and Her Books blog