"Kliman's thorough research and entertaining spin on the Norton's history make for a vintage that goes down smooth." T. Rees-Shapiro, Washington Post Book World
"Who knew a grape could generate so much history, so much commerce, so much entrancing narrative, so much splendid writing. Todd Kliman's The Wild Vine is as brilliantly successful a hybrid as its subject: combining the best characteristics of history and memoir, biography and travelogue, it is an utter delight."
Robert Olen Butler, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
"Todd Kliman's The Wild Vine is beautiful and eye-opening and you'll enjoy it as you would a bracing and wonderful wine. It's a mystery story, a history lesson, a personal journey between hard covers: a great, American vintage."
Darin Strauss, author of Chang & Eng and More Than It Hurts You
"This book will move you in ways that might surprise you, for The Wild Vine is about much more than an obscure American grape; it's about heartbreak, determination, courage, and humanity. If in vino veritas, this may be the truest story ever told, and Todd Kliman tells it with grace and sensitivity."
Don and Petie Kladstrup, authors of Wine and War
"A fascinating, well-written and researched cross-generational journey that follows the DNA of a single grape variety that I had never heard of before. I don't know if the Norton grape will make it as one of the great wines of the world, but its history, and the eccentric characters who carried its hope for a wine that could be grown and vinified in Virginia, of all places, makes for page-turning reading."
Rex Pickett, author of Sideways
"Kliman tells the ups and downs of Norton with equal panache, pointing a bright light on grape hybrids, an important yet little-known part of the wine world, and introducing a cast of interesting characters along the way. While reading this book, I kept wishing that I had a bottle of Norton at my elbow."
George M. Taber, author of Judgment of Paris
"A well-researched and fascinating story that reads like a novel. A true and highly entertaining American tale."
Anthony Dias Blue, The Tasting Panel magazine, WCBS, KABC
"This is a terrific book. If it were a wine, it would be expressive but earthy, subtly spiced, with great structure and a long, lingering finish."
Toby Young, of Top Chef
"Hold on for an entertaining and enlightening 400-year, transcontinental, trans-cultural investigation of the greatest wine you’ve never heard of. Todd Kliman squeezes a hell of a yarn from a grape."
Daniel Evan Weiss, author of The Roaches Have No King and The Swine's Wedding
Kliman's thorough research and entertaining spin on the Norton's history make for a vintage that goes down smooth.
The Washington Post
In this engaging history, food and wine writer Kliman focuses on the Norton, an American grape hybrid, its namesake early 19th-century creator, and its current-day advocate. Going back to the early efforts of American grape growing and winemaking, Kliman assembles a solid biography of the bereaved doctor and amateur horticulturalist whose Jeffersonian devotion to a native American grape and wine eventually led to the birth of a new variety. Despite viticultural progress and recognition, however muted, and his efforts to draw the former president's interest, Norton died without achieving viticultural success and was lost to history. Kliman's narrative discloses the hidden story of the Norton's nurturing over the decades in the Midwest and the role of German-Americans and other immigrants in its survival. Through means and methods like homemade winemaking, the hardy fruit endured blight and Prohibition, and was eventually restored to its native Virginia soil, where the book's other dominant and most colorful personality, a transsexual, was liberated by her physical change to professionally pursue the grape's cultivation. (June)
To tell the story of the forgotten and almost lost Norton grape, which was developed in the experimental garden of Dr. Daniel Norton in Virginia long before California's wine-producing reign, Kliman (food & wine editor, The Washingtonian) takes the reader on a colorful romp from its creation in the 1800s through Prohibition to the present-day efforts of vintner Jenni McCloud. Kliman's easy and friendly writing style makes the book highly accessible. He went to McCloud's vineyard, and his first-person accounts and impressions make the history feel close and real. Kliman clearly did a great deal of research; however, he does not include foot- or endnotes, and this omission is likely to be frustrating for historians. VERDICT While not a scholarly history, this is an engaging book on an untapped area of American history and an appealing account of current efforts to make wine with the Norton.—Lisa A. Ennis, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham Lib.