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The Wild Vine: A Forgotten Grape and the Untold Story of American Wine
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The Wild Vine: A Forgotten Grape and the Untold Story of American Wine

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  141 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
A rich romp through untold American history featuring fabulous characters, The Wild Vine is the tale of a little-known American grape that rocked the fine-wine world of the nineteenth century and is poised to do so again today.


Author Todd Kliman sets out on an epic quest to unravel the mystery behind Norton, a grape used to make a Missouri wine that claimed a prestigious g
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ebook, 288 pages
Published May 4th 2010 by Clarkson Potter
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Kay
A beautifully written, evocative book

As a foodie living just across the river from a slew of up-and-coming Virginia wineries, how could I not be drawn to a book on an all-but-forgotten and all-American grape?

Little did I know that there would be much more to this book than a lively treatise on American wine history and culture. From the first chapter of Wild Vine, it was patently clear that I was being taken along on a personal quest, a quest that would take me back in time and into the company
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Terri
Feb 10, 2014 Terri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food-and-drink
"She runs her fingers through the tiny blue-black orbs, like a jeweler showing off the quality of the pearls. 'That's history, right there. The native grape of America. Good old Norton. Born right here in Virginia, in Richmond.'" Jenni McCloud is the exuberant woman who introduces the author to the Norton grape and Kliman credits her with so much knowledge of "the doctor" that she could be his biographer.

In 1821 Daniel Norton was "at a single blow of destiny made a childless widower." In his dep
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Stan Crader
Feb 26, 2017 Stan Crader rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're at all interested in wind and its American 'roots,' this is an excellent read. And if you're from Missouri, it should be mandatory reading.
Bernie
Jul 28, 2012 Bernie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wine
The Wild Vine by Todd Kilman

This a very interesting book about the history of Wine in America. More specifically it is about the first attempt to make wine from a Native American grape, vitus nortoni, or the Norton grape. Though Thomas Jefferson was not able to jump start the American Wine Culture, a life time pursuit of his, his enthusiasm and support eventually set many colonial farmers on the path to cultivating grapes for wine in America. Dr. Daniel Norton, an amateur horticulturalist, while
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Casey Kirk
Oct 27, 2011 Casey Kirk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book after an improbable discovery. Three summers ago I went with my wife on a wine tasting tour around Birmingham, Al (one of our favorite short vacation cities). My mother suggested a North Alabama Wine Trail due to the fact that wineries are springing up there. We went to one of the recommended ones and honestly I wasn't expecting much. The taster said that the wine was grown on their property. I was anticipating some skunky muscadine. What I tasted blew me away. I asked them aga ...more
Dave Roberts
Apr 30, 2013 Dave Roberts rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Are you interested in wine and wine-making? And in Virginia wines and wine-making, in particular? If you are, this could be the book for you.

The book starts with Thomas Jefferson, who during his time in France became enamored with French wines, and wanted to grow the same grapes near Monticello. Alas, he never succeeded.

But during this same time, a physician was experimenting with hybridizing grapes in his own attempt to develop a strain that would grow in the US. And he succeeded!

Alas, when gra
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Rhodies
Apr 16, 2010 Rhodies rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was fortunate in getting a publisher's ARC copy of this book a couple months before release. Great book about the truly American Norton grape and its wines (not to be confused with eastern muscadine wine and worse). This book reads like a novel as the author ping pongs you back-and-forth between 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries introducing wonderful characters that all were concerned in making legitimate American wines. Bottom line, after two centuries of experimentation, America now has w ...more
Kelly Forrest
Jul 02, 2012 Kelly Forrest rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
I wanted to rate this higher. I do think it's worth reading because the story it tells is fascinating. I just wish someone else had told the story. The Wild Vine tells the story of the Norton grape, the only grape native to the United States that makes a really great red wine. In telling the story of the Norton, we learn about the early obsession of the Europeans who came to this continent with producing wine on American soil, the importance of wine in the British Colonies and newly independent ...more
Linda
Norton is America's mostly forgotten grape. A potential contender to the great grape varieties of Europe, it was nearly forgotten and still struggles in relative obscurity. Though I had heard of Norton and even tasted wine made from Norton, I knew little about it.

Reading the tale of Norton, itself woven into the larger tale of wine making in America was a fascinating journey through time. From Jefferson's failed attempts at growing European vines to the rise and fall of Virginia and Missouri as
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Rob Roy
Apr 25, 2012 Rob Roy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wine, 40-hist-us
This book tells the story of the Norton grape and the wines that are made from it. Few have heard of this grape, a native American grape, that makes a magnificent age worthy wine. The story is also about Americans who have thought outside of the wine box and have learnt the tie between land and wine. For me, particularly fascinating is that I know two of the people written about in this book. The author has captured them very well. If you enjoy wine, read this book, then hie thee to your local w ...more
Jay Rich
Sep 13, 2011 Jay Rich rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating and thought-provoking and beautifully written. I learned so much, too, but it was all done so smoothly. Jenni McCloud, the heroine of the book -- I'm tempted to call it a novel because of its complexity and structure -- is one of the greatest characters I have come across in a long time. She's larger than life, a millionairess and transsexual who cusses up a storm and also seems to contain all the best qualities of being an American. I think the genre-bending of the book is going to ...more
Mike Mathews
Oct 01, 2012 Mike Mathews rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


I picked up a bottle of Chrysalis Norton at my neighborhood wine shop on a whim. After tasting the wine, my curiosity led me to the Internet, which led me to this book. It is a great story told by a great storyteller. Being a native Richmonder, I was familiar with many of the locales described in the book, and the author does a wonderful job capturing the spirit of the places he describes. If his descriptions of the Missouri wine country are as accurate, I need to start planning a trip! While re
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Candace
Jul 29, 2011 Candace rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A much more enjoyable and engaging read than expected. I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in wine, wine-making, or the history of viticulture in the U.S. Kliman interweaves the story of the under-recognized and under-appreciated Norton grape (developed and introduced by a contemporary of Jefferson) with that of its greatest modern-day champion, the Virginia-based wine-maker Jenni McCloud, all contextualized by the larger history of wine-making in the U.S. I was maybe most surprised by ...more
Lauren Ozanich
Aug 17, 2013 Lauren Ozanich rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was gifted to me because I love wine and live in Virginia and it is amazing. Having been to many of the wineries mentioned and tasted many of the wines, it hit a chord inside me and made me feel so connected not only with the author but with all the historical figures who helped Virginia wine become what it is today. Kliman's writing is extraordinary, mixing historical facts with the interesting story of Jenni made "learning" about wine feel more like listening to be a great story. I r ...more
Jennifer
Mar 02, 2016 Jennifer rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
My first abandoned book in years. What should have been an incredibly interesting story about the history of the state grape of Virginia, the Norton grape, was dull and full of run-on sentences that waxed poetic without actually being such. When I found out that the author is a journalist for the Washington Post, the writing style makes much more sense; it's a good rhythm for a short news piece, but terrible in long prose.
R
Sep 19, 2010 R rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of the American grape the Norton, and how it brought the American wine industry to the attention of the world only to be lost during prohibition. It has begun a comeback due to the persistence of various folks described by the author in a way that is both interesting and informative. Perhaps this book will encourage folks to try a bottle of Norton, which is now made in Virginia and Missouri. The wine is great and so is the book.
Gef
Aug 09, 2010 Gef rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not a wine drinker. The stuff gives me a headache nine times out of ten. That may be due to drinking lesser wines, but while I may not drink it I did find this book to be a surprisingly engaging book. Discussing the history of a particular grape and its American history in winemaking, Kliman almost turned me around on the whole wine conniseur deal. Almost. I'm a hard nut to crack--or is that a hard cork to pop?
Leslie Hickman
I'm more than ready for a road-trip to wine country in both Missouri & Virginia. I picked up this book by just strolling down the aisles at the library; it's probably one of the best reads in a while! It makes me want to grow grapes, buy some wine & travel to see all the wine countries outside California!
Kathleen Hooker
Jun 20, 2016 Kathleen Hooker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Virginia wine lovers will enjoy this book about history of the Norton grape and Jefferson in Virginia. Went to a wine tasting in Branson Mo. they tried to claim Dr Norton and his findings as theirs. Mt Pleasant and Stone winery were mentioned in the book. Didn't realize they were so old. Virginia now has more than 230 winerys. We have come a long way.
T. Carter Ross
Part history, part examination of the Virginia (and Missouri) wine industries with a central focus on the Norton grape. The wine is good, and this book does a decent job of championing it, and while it reads well, I was left feeling like it was only a surface treatment for both the history and the wine ...
Brother Fred Jaxheimer
I checked this book out of the Library primarily because of my interest as a vintner in the Norton Grape. This historical based tale is a "Wine Journey" that reads like a novel. I liked it but if your not into Wine or wine history in America I would not recommend it. The shocking truths of some of the Characters makes some of the history seem gritty and real... and other parts seem unreal.
Kathryn
This book was about a forgotten grape, originally from Virginia, that people have tried making wine from over the centuries. It started with Thomas Jefferson, and his obsession with making wine from this country. He was unsuccessful, but others did manage to make wine from the Norton grape, and have now brought back that grape to Virginia in hopes of making wine today.
David Brown
Oct 29, 2010 David Brown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, history
This was a great quirky slice of American history. Kliman is a vivid and descriptive writer who takes advantage of charming and weird historical figures to lend power to his narrative. You don't have to love wine to enjoy this book, but who doesn't love wine?
Mary Ann
Jul 11, 2011 Mary Ann marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Found this little gem through "Costco Connection" magazine review. Took the advice of other reviewers and ordered some bottles of Norton wine from Chrysalis Vineyards before I started reading it. I can now read the book and enjoy the wine together!!
Laura
Feb 19, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
American ingenuity at its best! The story of Dr. Norton and his vines, eventually wines was delightful. The only thing that would have made this book a better read was a glass of Norton to accompany. Personally, I can't wait to try some from Chrysalis Vineyards in VA.
Jennifer
Oct 13, 2010 Jennifer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: real-life
The Wild Vine tells a story that few people know or understand. It tells a story of American history. I would recommend this story to anyone who enjoys Amerian history and the it leads to your life today. In particular it tells the story of THE American grape.
Courteny Morehouse
I loved this book. Engaging Ina bit of a "who dunnit" style the author lays out how the wine industry ended up the way it did, bullying out variety and true terroir throughout the industry thus bastardizing a great craft. Clearly it got me caring way more than I should about the subject.
Camille
Jul 31, 2016 Camille rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book about the history of the Norton grape, as well as the history of Missouri and Virginia winemaking! I reviewed it on my blog, here's the link: https://wineandhistory.wordpress.com/...
Wendy Henning
Oct 31, 2015 Wendy Henning rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a Virginian, maybe I'm biased to enjoy this book. The writing is terrific though, and the history of the Norton grape (and of early American wine-making in general) is compelling.
Kevin Kosar
May 24, 2011 Kevin Kosar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My audio interview with Todd Kliman is at: http://alcoholreviews.com/wp/?p=1130
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