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The Grail: A Year Ambling & Shambling Through an Oregon Vineyard in Pursuit of the Best Pinot Noir Wine in the Whole Wild World
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The Grail: A Year Ambling & Shambling Through an Oregon Vineyard in Pursuit of the Best Pinot Noir Wine in the Whole Wild World

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  104 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
Paperback, 208 pages
Published April 1st 2006 by Oregon State University Press (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 234)
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Mar 09, 2012 Diana rated it really liked it
Shelves: wine-books
On a recent visit to Seattle, I was very happy to see an old friend. While we were catching up, I mentioned that I'd love to live in or around Portland, as I am a huge Oregon Pinot fan. Steve, my friend currently living in Seattle, immediately asked me if I had read The Grail. When I replied that I had not, he jumped up and disappeared into another room to find said book, which he very graciously lent me. So, less than a week later, I've finished The Grail, and first off, I have to give Steve cr ...more
Nov 23, 2010 Melody rated it really liked it
Brian Doyle's is the first byline I learned to look for in the Oregonian when I moved here, and I still get an anticipatory flutter when I see it. He's recently written a novel, Mink River and I went to Powell's to listen to him talk. He's an insanely intense and achingly vulnerable speaker who laughs and cries at his own stories. I found out then that he has published several books of essays, and I ordered them all from the library. This is the first one I got, and I dove right in.

I love his tu
Nov 17, 2008 Cerissa rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Beth
Excellent book! A more apt title would be, "The Grail: A Year Rambling About Pinot Noir". Here's the perfect excerpt:

“And the most sensitive and touchy and weird of all grapevines is pinot noir. Which is why winemakers call it the poet’s grape. It’s a finicky plant, your margin of error is tiny, a million things can go wrong, you worry about the weather, but can get so locked into pinot noir. It’s the most diverse red wine of all. It has grace and power. It has endless nuance. It has an awesome
Nov 24, 2014 Linda rated it it was amazing
Beginning in the month of October and continuing up through the vendage of the year next, Brian Doyle plunges wholeheartedly into the world of the winemakers of the Oregon pinot noir. The result is a fascinating read which will enlighten and entertain. Chapters, if they be such (really, more like individual essays)are divided not only into the seasons of the vineyard but also histories of the area and recollections that include wine within the context of the tale told. Doyle is a story gatherer ...more
Jul 05, 2012 Nicole rated it it was amazing
My favorite is Pinot Noir, and we are going t o Oregon in few weeks- thought this read would come in handy. But, every time I am reading it, he is such a good writer I want to pour a glass.
May 22, 2013 Steve rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People interested in OR wines.
Oregonian Doyle spends a year hanging about the Lange Winery learning about the process of growing grapes and making wine. I really appreciated the sections on the history (human and geological) of the area, and this is a book that demands you be drinking a glass of wine as you read it. Some great bits and pieces of info here and there.

His writing style is very "chatty", which makes it easy to read, but can also wear on you after awhile. He loves run on sentences, and even more run on lists of
Aug 02, 2015 Kate rated it it was amazing
Ambling and shambling is a good description of this book. I deem it quintessential Boyle and quintessential Oregon. Sometimes the writing carries you along like floating down a quiet stream and other times it's more like going over the rapids. This one will have to do me until his novel set in Chicago comes out next March.
Carol C
May 12, 2014 Carol C rated it it was amazing
I just love this book. The subject itself is loveable, but Brian Doyle's writing is exuberant and lush and alive with the possibilities of people and vine. I also found that I have a bottle of Lange pinot via the generosity of friends which I am now prepared to drink. It is time to have them over.
Maryka Biaggio
Dec 29, 2014 Maryka Biaggio rated it really liked it
Brain Doyle has written a most entertaining account of a year in the vineyards of Oregon. This is a great read for anybody interested in Oregon wine or pinot noir--packed with fascinating and informative details and a fun read. I knew there was a good reason to love pinot noir!
Aug 12, 2014 Jane rated it liked it
The book is one long "stream of consciousness" with a few breaths in between. In spite of the esoteric ramblings, I liked the book - learned things, smiled and enjoyed each short chapter. It made me want to go taste more Lange wine and that's a good thing.
May 04, 2015 Skye rated it it was amazing
A lovely book, with an in-depth examination of one vineyard for a year. Love love love the author's tone and writing style--very much personal and drastically different from general wine writing.
Jo Ann
Mar 23, 2014 Jo Ann rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anita Rudin
This book is an interesting collection of essays about the process of wine making in Oregon. It makes the reader want to visit Oregon wine country and do some sightseeing and tasting.
Mar 12, 2009 Brad rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book's biggest success was in making me want to drink more wine. Being from the region I also appreciated the bits of history, both recent and ancient. The Lange's (the main subjects of the book) come across as prototypical decent folks both in opening themselves up to Doyle's curiosity and in the way they run their business/craft.

Doyle's style is often effusive, and here it is at its effusivest. At times his use of the run-on sentence litany wore me out, but his decency as author is ultima
Jeanie B
Aug 30, 2013 Jeanie B rated it it was amazing
Recommend for anyone curious about the life & trials, not the romance, of being a winemaker.
My first experiences with Oregon wines were in the Yamhill countryside in 1978. This story led me back to that area & time. Easy to understand descriptions without a lot of technical (& snooty) jargon for those enjoy good wine without making it into a religion.
Yes, I agree with others, it made me want to drink more Pinot, not a bad thing!
My friends & I celebrated my 59th birthday at the b
Jun 05, 2016 Mgriffith rated it really liked it
Year spent Lange Winery. Doyle writes for University of Portland
Donna K
Jan 10, 2016 Donna K rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
Wineries are interesting..
Apr 27, 2013 Neil rated it really liked it
Although I'm not typically a fan of the essay genre, Brian Doyle's book took me back to an amazing tasting I experienced on afternoon at Lange Winery where the book was set. He has captured, and moreover expanded upon, the easy-going yet insightful perspective that Jesse and Don shared with me an my wife that December afternoon when the grounds of the winery was covered in snow. Thank you Brian - capturing your memories and sharing your experiences was truly delightful.
Mar 24, 2012 Hollis rated it liked it
Shelves: favorite-author
I 'discovered' Brian Doyle through Mink River, which totally knocked me over. Thus I tried another of his (given that this was about Oregon Pinot Noir, which I love), I thought I'd enjoy this as much. It didn't quite measure up to Mink River, but I enjoyed learning more about the making of the wine and I'm totally charmed by his whimsical use of language. Although I'll probably check out his other non-fiction, I'm really waiting for his next novel!
Mar 26, 2014 Eric rated it it was amazing
A nice little "travel" book, about the travel from bud to bottle. Makes you want to drink a glass or two of Pinot Noir!..A good read for sure!
Nov 15, 2008 Ali rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It has a great narrative style that allows readers to experience the winery for the first time with the author. The chapters are each only a few pages, too, so these bite-size chunks are perfect for sitting in the waiting room. Brian Doyle does have a tendency to write in long, fairly rambly sentences, though, so if that drives you crazy, this would not be a good book for you to read.
Feb 26, 2011 Emily rated it liked it
I read this book with the intention of getting to know a little more about the wine industry in Oregon and in this way, it was informative although the author's bent was definitely as a storyteller which did make it an easy read. My one pet peeve was his use of descriptors. At one point, I decided to count and he actually used twelve descriptors to tell about one word.
Jul 29, 2010 Molly rated it liked it
Recommends it for: wine folk
Even after working in a tasting room for 9 years, I learned so much reading this book. I can't believe how much goes into making wine - or running a winery for that matter. You've gotta be an expert in so many things. I'll stick to drinking and talking about it. But trust me, I appreciate each sip a little more now.
Melenie Reiter
Jul 26, 2008 Melenie Reiter rated it liked it
Offers a unique perspective on the elements surrounding the wine industry within the Willamette Valley and in general. I HEART Oregon Pinots!! This one will make your mouth salivate for a juicy glassful of Pinot goodness. :)Or, you might want to roll up your pant legs and smush a barrel of Pinot grapes...
Oct 01, 2014 Deb rated it really liked it
I love Brian's writing, and I also happen to love Oregon pinots. I recommend you sit down with this one on a snowy winter evening with a nice glass of Anne Amie L'Iris Pinot Blanc. The title is apt, this book ambles and meanders. Settle in and savor it.
Danita Reynolds
Mar 27, 2011 Danita Reynolds rated it liked it
A great read especially while sipping on a lovely glass of wine. A quarky, fun and insightful book about the in and outs of grape growing and wine making through out the year at a small winery in Oregon.
Matt Elerding
Aug 30, 2009 Matt Elerding rated it really liked it
Good stuff. Especially if you're from the area.

If you like BD's stuff, you'll like this.

Read it. It's fun and short.

John McPhee
Oct 26, 2009 John McPhee rated it really liked it
Oregon has great pinot ... and there's no better man to tell the story than the inimitable Brian Doyle.
Jamie Caulley
Jun 04, 2014 Jamie Caulley rated it really liked it
A Witty, funny education of all things wine in the red hills of Dundee.
Wendy Hollister
May 02, 2011 Wendy Hollister marked it as to-read
Recommended in article Brian wrote in the Stanford Alumni magazine.
Aug 18, 2008 Eriel rated it really liked it
Funny, witty essays on Oregon wines and those who make them.
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Doyle's essays and poems have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, The American Scholar, Orion, Commonweal, and The Georgia Review, among other magazines and journals, and in The Times of London, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Kansas City Star, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Ottawa Citizen, and Newsday, among other newspapers. He is a book reviewer for The Oregonian and a contributing ess ...more
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