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Grape Expectations:
A Family’s Vineyard Adventure
in France

by

Caro FEELY

288 pages

Release date: October 2013, 288 pages,
by Summersdale
978-1-84953-257-0

In full compliance with FTC Guidelines,
I received this book as an egalley for free from  the author
in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I was in no way compensated for this post as a reviewer,
and the thoughts are my own.

Grape Expectations

This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:

     Books on France2013 Ebook Challenge

New Authors 2013

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

Rating system

Even though I spent half of my life both in the Champagne and the Burgundy region, I have to admit I knew about nothing on wine making, except that it was hard work, all year long. I was more in touch with small farms raising cattle and growing grains.

So Grape Expectations was a total revelation for me as for the world of wine, all its hellish requirements from day 1 to finally the day you an taste a good bottle. Add to this the choice to follow organic methods, and the list of daily chores for several years until you can produce a good bottle sounds more like a nightmare than a dream come true.

But this is exactly what Sean and Caro’s story is about: they had this dream, of leaving their secure jobs in England, of acquiring a house and a vineyard in France, and of producing their own wine. Add to this the barrier of a new language they basically did not know, of a different culture, and two young girls to raise, and you may have the recipe for disaster. And it did look like a disaster for most of the years covered in this book.

They had to go through so much, at so many levels, with their dilapidated house, with accidents unfortunately connected with wine making, and crazy French laws; but they also experienced the fraternity of local wine makers.

I loved the description of technical aspects of wine making. Did you know that in late spring and early summer “the vines can grow up to 10 centimetres [about 3 inches] a day”? [p.87]. Did you know that if you refuse to use chemicals, you have to spray copper and sulfur before each rain to protect your vineyard? Did you know that choosing a bad cork can basically ruin your bottle?

I loved also the descriptions of the landscape in the Bordeaux region – and sometimes the silent beauty of their surroundings was the only thing that prevented them from giving up. And I liked the cute little illustrations, such as the wine barrel and glasses at the beginning of each chapter, and the butterfly in between parts.

This book is so very inspiring. It really shows that you can definitely follow your dreams, even if all odds seem to be against you. With help and lots of hard work, one day the dream does come true.

If you like to drink smart, I mean, to know how to appreciate the wine you drink, or if you want to spend some time in France, at least through a good book, or if right now you need a good reminder that light is at the end of your black tunnel, well then, this book is for you!

With so much perseverance, things have become better for Caro, and I can’t wait to read her next book, to see how things improved.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

Filled with vivid descriptions of delicious wines, great food, and stunning views, this is a unique insight into the world of the winemaker, and a story of passion, dedication, and love.

When Caro and Sean find the perfect 10-hectare vineyard in Saussignac, it seems like their dreams of becoming winemakers in the south of France are about to come true. But they arrive in France with their young family (a toddler and a newborn) to be faced with a dilapidated 18th-century farmhouse and an enterprise that may never, ever make them a living. Undeterred by mouse infestations, a leaking roof, treacherous hordes of insects, visits from the local farm “police,” and a nasty accident with an agricultural trimmer, Caro and Sean set about transforming their “beyond eccentric” winery into a successful business as they embark on the biggest adventure of their lives—learning to make wine from the roots up.  [provided by the publisher]

NB: the book was received with success in the UK in 2012, it is now being published in the US.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Caro Feely“Apart from smoking on the fire escape at school – don’t tell my parents – I was a co-founder of the first magazine published by students which covered chocolate obsessions, and the funny, eccentric and bizarre things that happen at girls only boarding schools.

After university I wrote intermittent articles for newspapers and magazines related to my career in IT consulting. I started writing books in earnest Dublin in 2003 while on maternity leave but it took a gift of Maeve Binchy’s ‘writers club’ from my husband Sean to get my first published book Grape Expectations into good enough shape to attract a publisher – Summersdale – to whom I am eternally grateful for lifting me from the slush pile.” [from the author’s website]

COME BACK ON THURSDAY 24
FOR MY INTERVIEW OF CARO FEELY!

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Seán & Caro Feely

Terroir Feely & French Wine Adventures
EARL Chateau Haut Garrigue, LD Garrigue Basse, 24240 Saussignac, France

Certified organic biodynamic wines: www.terroirfeely.com | www.feelywines.com
Award winning tours: www.frenchwineadventures.com
Luxury eco gites: www.luxurydordognegites.com
Books: ‘Grape Expectations’ at www.carofeely.com/books.html
Twitter: @carofeely | Facebook: www.facebook.com/terroirfeely

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