When I was growing up, I thought that we’d all be driving flying cars by the time the year 2020 arrived. Other than the occasional Tesla, it’s still grounded petrol-powered vehicles everywhere.
I also never would have thought that by 2020 I’d have published a book about wine – “Valleys of Wine”. Somehow, it happened. And as of next April, I will have my name on another book, the 6th edition of John Schreiner’s Okanagan Wine Tour Guide.
At the moment, I am procrastinating from completing my comments on the final edits. Because I own 3 previous editions of this very book (as well as at least 10 other books by John), I catch myself reading it with the same wine fanboy reverie that I’ve had for the past two decades instead of doing what I’m supposed to be doing, which is a search-and-destroy mission for typos, grammatical no-no’s, errant punctuation, or other literary faux-pas of which anyone is capable when writing about wine. This is the last chance to make changes and if anything gets through at this stage, we have to live with it just like I have to live with the couple of goofs that I’ve caught recently in “Valleys of Wine”.
So why bother typing this out instead of focusing on the task at hand?
Because books like this always seem to get me excited about the wine industry that we have here in BC. Though this one focuses on the Okanagan Valley, there are other regions lumped in as well. It should really be thought of as a book about wineries in the interior rather than just the Okanagan because it does include wineries in other places, like Kamloops, Creston, and Nakusp (spoiler alert) among others. After spending the past 5 years of my creative life looking backwards at the history of BC’s wine industry, it’s exciting to me to be looking forward for once.
There is a lot to look forward too. It seems that there is a book renaissance happening now with the publication of many amazing books about wine and culinary topics. If one of your resolutions is to read more, 2020 is not going to disappoint you with a bad selection of available books. Though I’m still going through my stack of books that I’ve had to hold off on reading while I’ve been writing over the past couple of years, I am finding myself distracted with all kids of amazing volumes. Shane M. Chartrand and Jennifer Cockrall-King’s book “Tawâw” is a stunning cookbook. (It’s cool to just read a cookbook, right?) And I can’t wait for the upcoming release of Jennifer Schell’s new book, “The BC Wine Lovers Cookbook” which, based on her previous books (like “The Butcher, The Baker, the Wine and Cheese Maker”), means this is going to be on a whole other level of amazing.
Kevin Begos’s “Tasting the Past” is probably the most important wine book I’ve read in a long time and I highly recommend that every wine lover read it cover to cover. The reason? It will totally reset your point of view regarding why we assume that particular grape varieties (i.e. the “Vitis Vinifera Greatest Hits” varieties like Merlot, Chardonnay, et al) as being the de facto kings and queens of the wine world. Suddenly after reading it, the hegemony of the European grapes in the world of wine as we know it today doesn’t seem so secure anymore. Maybe there are other grape varieties that are perhaps less “noble” (a very European aristocratic term) but can still produce quality wines if grown in the right place. Perhaps growing these “noble” European grapes in every corner of the world capable of growing grapes is never going to make great wine in any of them and that we are missing the point by trying? Maybe we should be looking for what grows there naturally and accept it rather than trying to shoehorn a grape variety into a terroir where it clearly doesn’t belong and has no chance? These are the questions that Begos poses throughout his book and it is zeitgeist-altering to say the least.
Suffice to say that the literary landscape for wine lovers is looking pretty good for 2020. With recent releases proffering some amazing new thoughts on our industry in light of things like climate change, technology (new and old), and the increasing focus on buying local first, it’s great to see that Google hasn’t totally been able to quantify our thoughts into its algorithms. Even blogs (*gasp*) don’t hold the keys to unlimited casual insider knowledge that they once (may) have had. It is comforting that books like this are still being released and hopefully, they will be taken a lot more seriously than a page of search results or social media memes.
Of course, when it finally does happen, I will first in line to hover-convert my Subaru and I will read a book while I wait for the mechanics to finish.