Dreamers of the Valley of Plenty: A Portrait of the Napa Valley

Cheryll Aimee Barron, Author
Cheryll Aimee Barron, Author Scribner Book Company $24.5 (319p) ISBN 978-0-684-81295-3
Reviewed on: 05/01/1995
Release date: 05/01/1995
Hardcover - 319 pages - 978-0-689-12196-8
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Examining the cosmopolitan culture of the winemakers of California's Napa Valley, freelance journalist Barron visits the homes and wineries of an assortment of French, Italian, Russian, German and American vintners. Many are art collectors whose houses constitute a melange of architectural styles: ``a Greek monastery, a medieval fortress, a Rhenish castle, French chateaux, Spanish missions, California barns, Italianate Victorian mansions... a pseudo-Minoan temple.'' Some of the Europeans remain contemptuous of American consumers; others are energized by the open spaces and freedom of the West. Some have come because the land is cheap compared with that in Europe. Almost all are dedicated to producing the best wines in the world. Barron examines the difficulties of Napa wine-growing and the innovations in the process made by, among others, Tschelistcheff (Beaulieu), the French-trained White Russian, and Joe Heitz (Heitz Wine Cellars), the scientific-minded American who sneers at the ``artsy-craftsy, tiddly-diddly'' elite of the valley. But while many Americans have been Europeanized and the Europeans Americanized, according to Barron, the Mexicans, who do most of the hard work, remain mystified by the money and care spent on producing a drink ``not half as tasty as beer or tequila.'' Photos not seen by PW. (May)
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