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The Grail. A year ambling & shambling through an Oregon vineyard in pursuit of the best pinot in the whole wild world. Brian Doyle, Oregon State University Press, Corvallis, 2006, 208 pp, paperback, $18.95. I read this book on a recent flight to Australia and it kept me entertained the entire trip. The diary chronicles the author’s experiences intermittently hanging out at Lange Winery in Dundee, Oregon, following a vintage with winemaker Don Lange and other members of the winery crew. Doyle asks plenty of questions and gets a plethora of practical answers about winegrowing and winemaking. He sprinkles the story with interesting historical facts on Pinot Noir as well. An author of six books and editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, Doyle is a talented and humorous writer who had me laughing out loud at several points in the story. Examples of some of his pithy quotes: I don’t know if you could possibly stumble into two careers that entail less profit for more labor than making music and making wine.” “Making wine is not an art, but it most certainly is a craft, and some people are masters at it.” One factoid I learned can be used to stump your wine geek friends. What is the name of the tool for punching down the must in the fermenter? Answer: The tool has no name. Zing!

Vineyard Memoirs or “So this is what it’s like to plant a vineyard?” Kerry McDaniel Boenisch, Sheridan Books, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 2004, 112 pp, paperback, $19.95 ( available from Vineyard Memoirs, PO Box 512, Dundee, Oregon 97115, enclose $3.00 for S&H or phone BooksAmerica at 1-800-929-7889). Kerry McDaniel Boenisch writes about her recollections of living, grape-growing and winemaking in the 1970s when the modern Oregon wine industry was born. McDaniel is a resident of Dundee and dedicated her book to Loie Maresh who encouraged McDaniel to write this memoir. McDaniel’s parents, Jim and Donna Jean McDaniel, purchased three separate acreages in the Red Hills above Dundee in 1973 and the family planted vineyards on all three. Today, the original house and vineyard is Torii Mor Winery (for the fifteen years the McDaniels lived and worked there it was known as McDaniel Vineyards). McDaniel shares much personal information about people and families that were early winegrowing pioneers in the Red Hills including Arthur and Vivian Weber, Jim and Loie Maresh, Martha Maresh, Susan Sokol-Blosser and Bill Blosser, Bill and Bessie Archibald, Dick and Kina Erath, Charles and Shirley Coury and several others. A casual and informative read for lovers of the history of the early days of Oregon Pinot Noir.

My First Crush. Misadventures in Wine Country Linda Kaplan, The Lyons Press, Connecticut, 2005, 214 pp, hardcover, $22.95. Linda Kaplan’s spouse left his law practice in Iowa after buying Panther Creek Winery and the two came to McMinnville, Oregon with no formal training in winemaking. This memoir details the challenges of the uninitiated making a premium Pinot Noir in Oregon while adapting to a completely different lifestyle. Numerous tips are included about enjoying wine and food. The preface includes a cheeky one-page recipe for producing 36,000 bottles of Pinot Noir. If you have ever even had the slightest inkling that you wanted to drop everything and move to wine country and make wine, read this book first.

Oregon Eco-Friendly Wine: Leading the World in “Green” Wine Clive S. Michelsen, Wine Appreciation Guild, 2007, 264 pp, hardcover, $39.95. The methods used by well-known Oregon wineries to produce “green” wine are detailed. The author’s favorite wines are highlighted and there is a complete winery directory with tasting room hours and contact information. The included summary of Oregon’s AVAs is a helpful reference.

The Two-Lane Gourmet: Fine Wine Trails, Superb Inns, and Exceptional Dining Through California, Oregon, and Washington Tom Snyder, St. Martin’s Griffin, 2007, 272 pp, paperback, $16.95. A comprehensive guide to wineries, B&Bs and fine eateries along the wine road in three states. There is also quite a bit of general wine information for beginners such as how to taste wine and a glossary of wine terms.

Note: These books are heavily discounted at www.amazon.com.

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