Recently my passion in the wine world has not been for a particular wine or region, but for the business of wine. This passion causes me to scour the Internet for information and knowledge. I have gotten excited about the politics of wine and the laws that make buying wine directly from a producer or a store in another state difficult. I have come across excellent content, both in virtual and traditional print form, and some that are a combination of both.
Currently I am reading Wine Wars on a Kindle App, which is a book about the wine business by Mike Veseth, a Professor of International Political Economy at the University of Puget Sound in Washington State. I discovered this new book through reading his blog, The Wine Economist (wineeconomist.com). Not only is there a blog about wine economics, there is also an association and yearly conference held in some great locations including Bolzano in Northern Italy this past year and UC Davis in California the year before. I highly recommend reading this if you are at all interested in the wine industry or work in the industry in any capacity. There is such great background on wine markets. Mike touches on everything from Blue Nun and Trader Joe’s to Lafite in China and explains why certain wine history has evolved and impacted the economics of wine. I remember some of the wine history in his book from other wine books I have read, such as the great book about the Gallo Family and their wine business holdings, Blood & Wine: The Unauthorized Story of the Gallo Wine Empire. The Blood & Wine book was forced out of publication shortly after it was released and for many years it was difficult to find. While I have read many wine books that are only reference guides, I enjoy books like these that offer a story about a part of the wine industry or history. Two others that deserve attention are Wine and War: The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France’s Greatest Treasure by Donald and Petie Kladstrup, and Napa: The Story of an American Eden by James Conaway.
Wine & War gives the background of how the wine regions of France handled the devastation of war trampling through their beloved vineyards and the looting of world-class wines by the Nazis and a great look at the heroes of France’s wine regions. The Napa book tells the story of how Napa was built from the days before, during and after Prohibition and the famous families and individuals. Napa spends plenty of time discussing the Mondavi family and the different directions each brother took, and how it affected the Californian wine industry. There is also a more recent book that chronicles the Mondavi “Wine Dynasty”— The House of Mondavi by Julia Flynn Siler. The book focuses on the Robert Mondavi family and the sad way their famed winery was sold to a giant corporation.
Wine is about wonderful people, history and stories, but besides books about such, reference books are also very important to a wine lover’s library. We need to be able to find out about the soils or grapes or climate of our favorite wine regions when interested. Soon, however, much of the reference material for wine will be found through the Internet, but that can be a minefield as there are plenty of falsehoods and folklore found on the web. But on the positive side of wine reference on the web, wine regions and styles are always changing and printed material can’t keep up, while the Internet is flexible when things in the wine world change.