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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

3.49  ·  Rating Details ·  90 Ratings  ·  25 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
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 3rd 2011 by Broadway Books (first published May 4th 2010)
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Kim Eley
Feb 10, 2014 Kim Eley rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Virginians
Recommended to Kim by: The author
I bought a bottle of Norton from Chrysalis Vineyards at the Total Wine and Beer and drank it while reading the book. I suggest you do the same. Call me a method reader.

So...I met the author one night at a fancy shmancy restaurant in DC. He was reviewing it for the Washingtonian magazine, and we were delighting in a once-in-a-lifetime meal. When my friends and I said we were from Richmond, he started telling us about Danial Norton, the man from Richmond who accidentally discovered the Norton grap
Mar 10, 2016 Matthew rated it did not like it
One of the pieces of advice that people often give for public speaking is that you shouldn't say something like "I am not much of a public speaker..." when you begin. It automatically tells the audience you have no confidence and perhaps are not worth listening to.

Throughout this book, the author frequently undermines the reasons why I should care about the Norton grape. At the 1873 Vienna World Exposition, a Norton wine from Hermann, Missouri won a gold medal. OK, that is interesting, but if a
Sep 03, 2016 MaryJo rated it really liked it
One can’t have an interested in local food in mid-Missouri without being aware of the Norton grape. Norton is the “serious red” made from a native grape, and now, once again, produced by a few of the new wineries growing up in the Midwest, as well as some in Kliman’s Virginia. Around 2004-2005 David Lind, a friend of mine, was involved in project for MU –extension, producing a map of regional food and wine. I think he was the first person I knew to actually drink Nortons and talk up the local gr ...more
Jul 08, 2014 Anne rated it liked it
I purchased The Wild Vine in Hermann, MO after drinking a very good bottle of red wine produced from the Norton grape at the local Stone Hill Winery. I have a weakness for local histories. I pick them up during our cross-country travels. They rarely disappoint, even if they aren't always outstanding examples of literary skill. The Wild Vine is no exception. Kliman tells his tale as a mix of economic and cultural history, a romance and a mystery. The different approaches clash occasionally but th ...more
Dec 11, 2014 Dana rated it liked it
I'm a little torn on this book. I liked the story, the background, the facts, the occasional assumptions about the history of American wine, in fact, I really liked most of this, but the writing was a little clunky for me. I don't know if it was only apparent because I was reading the book aloud, or if it would have even bothered me had I read it silently, but it was tough to get through that aspect. The writing didn't seem bad, just very unsmooth. Some of the negative reviews I read talked abou ...more
Mar 30, 2014 Christina rated it liked it
As a Virginia wine lover, I found this book to offer an interesting approach to the history of the Norton grape and early attempts at wine production in Virginia. I was recommended this book by one of the managers at Paradise Springs Winery in Clifton, Virginia. The book started with some great background on wine in Virginia through Jefferson and into Dr. Norton and the "discovery" of the Norton grape. From there, it continued with a back and forth story of the grape in Missouri then back to Vir ...more
Jorge Scheirer
Feb 17, 2015 Jorge Scheirer rated it it was amazing
Kliman takes us on a journey through the history of this obscure American grape. Who'd heard of Daniel Norton and his grape and an internationally acclaimed wine that was made with it in the 1870s. Reminiscent of Robert Mondavi in California and Angelo Gaja in Barbaresco, Italy, the Norton grape has had ardent advocates in the likes of Dr. Norton, George Husmann in its early days and today, Jon Held, Dennis Horton, and Jenni McCloud. By coincidence, I had visited Monticello two weeks before read ...more
Juliana Haught
Jun 23, 2011 Juliana Haught rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a very interesting book, written by a journalist who wanted to track down the story of the Norton, a unique American grape varietal that has struggled to gain respect in the wine world. The author firsts tastes a Norton wine at a gathering with friends, and is so taken with it that he tracks down a winemaker who champions the wine and the grape. The book goes back and forth between describing the process the author goes through of trying to find out all he can, and then sharing the hist ...more
Apryl Anderson
Apr 24, 2013 Apryl Anderson rated it liked it
It was a real push to get through the first couple of chapters—simply too many words. The descriptors abounded like bindweed in a Virginia vineyard in August.

But there were luxuriant vines here, too. Kliman presented each element as an individual plant—all had their own story to tell—just as it takes many grape stocks to make a great wine.

I won't reveal his little secret. I found it tacky, but I see where he was going with it: the wild vine, dontcha know.

And yes, I'm prepared to be a Norton advo
Oct 31, 2012 Memphis rated it really liked it
American wine has some great stories. This book does a very nice job of telling some midwest and modern east coast tales, instead of rehashing Jefferson and California over and over. Kudos for that.

The book celebrates a unique, native American grape and its flavors. We have rejected most Old World standards for everything else but still cling to them in wine. Thus, most American grapes are dismissed out of hand. At the same time, other countries seem invited to try unusual grapes. So why are Am
Nov 14, 2014 Valerie rated it really liked it
Being from Missouri and recently visiting Hermann I found this book in the gift shop at Stone Hill Winery.
Boy, I wished I had read this before going as it would have given me some perspective about the rich history of this town and how it played a
Role in the American wine scene. I would have also tasted some Norton which for some
Reason I bypassed in the tasting rooms we visited.
I thought this book was well written and drew me into the story of Dr. Norton, Jenni and this Native American grape th
Oct 26, 2014 Krista rated it really liked it
If you had told me the history of a grape I’d never heard of would turn out to be a page-turner, I’d have scoffed. But after a bit of a slow start (common in wine books), I was completely sucked in to the story of how this grape went from skeptical responses to years of glory and then on to relative obscurity.

This is a book that merges history, viticulture and more - well worth a read, especially if you're a wine lover.

I did a full review on my wine blog, link below:
Aug 22, 2011 Amari rated it really liked it
Did you know that, until WWI, Missouri had a very large German-speaking community?

Kliman's writing style isn't quite to my taste, but it's engaging and effective. There's a lot of stimulating information here, and much of it is only tangentially related to wine. A well-crafted, worthwhile romp through American history. I'm going to buy a couple of bottles of Norton the next time I'm in the U.S.
Jan 04, 2012 Margi rated it really liked it
Great historical content. I learned so much interesting trivia about Thomas Jefferson. The book is researched well and the story comes out as very interesting. This was my first attempt at reading about wine and it really is intriguing. Not only the history of the wine and grapes themselves, but also the history of the world at each time period. We read this book for our bookclub and hosted a wine tasting for the event. Fun idea.
Jul 03, 2014 Sara rated it liked it
I was hoping for more information about the history of the grape and less about the author's writing process and experiences in researching the topic. But not a bad book if you know what you are getting into before you start reading.
Jun 16, 2012 Linda rated it it was ok
I'm not a wine connoisseur so all the details about growing grapes was a bit boring to me. I liked learning about the history of wine in Virginia and Missouri. I never knew the prominent role played by wine in these states.
Aug 08, 2011 Barbara rated it really liked it
Loved this historic "Virginia" grape-growing, wine-tasting adventure....mixed passed and present beautifully, with some suprises too. Made me want to investigate the Virigina wineries in the near future. True story.
Gena Stack
Fascinating history of wine in the United States. Jumped around a bit, but the author tied it all together in the end. I've been to Stone Hill once-makes me eager to go back! And I suddenly want to drink Norton everywhere!
Feb 21, 2012 Michelle rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting book. I am now totally intrigued by wine from Norton grapes and can't wait to find a few to try.
Jeff Royce
Dec 13, 2012 Jeff Royce rated it did not like it
I would be very interested in this subject, but this book was just way too boring to get through. I tried, but couldn't finish.
Dec 14, 2013 Lauren rated it liked it
I got a little bogged down in all the details about Dr. Norton, but it was interesting to hear the story behind Virginia (and Missouri's) grape!
Robert Utter
Robert Utter rated it liked it
Feb 05, 2016
Melinda rated it liked it
Sep 05, 2014
Carol rated it it was ok
Oct 08, 2011
Dri rated it did not like it
Mar 26, 2012
Daniel Pill
Daniel Pill rated it it was amazing
Oct 13, 2014
Lisa Corathers
Lisa Corathers rated it liked it
Sep 14, 2012
Lydiarich rated it it was amazing
Oct 13, 2014
Geeka rated it really liked it
Mar 24, 2012
Apr 15, 2012 Raymond rated it liked it
I think I've maxed myself out on the subject at this point.
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