Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Grape Expectations

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 2nd July, 2013

Grape ExpectionsLike many urban-dwelling wine lovers I had never given much thought about how the stuff is made. I suppose if pressed I would have gueseds that you need the right climate and soil, must pick the grapes when they are ready, then put them in a blender and hey presto! Of course, it is nowhere near as simple as that, but just how complex the process is — especially when French red tape also plays a part — came as quite a shock, as I read Caro Feely’s account of her young family’s “vineyard adventure” in the Dordogne, “Grape Expectations” (Summersdale, £8.99). She and her husband Sean had a dream of a rural idyll in which they would become owners of their own château-label wines while escaping the rat race of a desk-based employee´s existence. But they ended up working far harder than they ever had before, while the sword of possible insolvency hung over their head. It is surprising their marriage survived the pressure, and indeed it barely did. Yet they persevered and overcame the hurdles, both natural and human. And even if the wine-making business doesn’t make one rich they achieved their goal, branching out later into wine tourism and holiday lets. Caro Feely’s style is at times breathless but the central message of this revelatory book is clear: viticulture is not for wimps.

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