A CULTIVATED LIFE by Joy Sterling

A CULTIVATED LIFE

A Year in a California Vineyard

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Rambling, sometimes rankling account of a year spent producing, promoting, and peddling the wines of the noted Iron Horse Vineyards in California's Sonoma Valley. Sterling--daughter of the firm's original owners, and marketing and sales director of Iron Horse since 1985--packs in so much p.r. that this is like an infomercial between covers. Sterling describes the winery's yearly round of domestic activities--family get-togethers, anniversaries, gardening, entertaining the doyens of the food-and-beverage industries--with an air of superiority that's captured well in her father's observation that ``Ralph Lauren is just an imitation of people like us.'' The author also turns her attention to such wine arcana as the perils of phylloxera, a fungal disease that has decimated vineyards worldwide; the differences between cordon and cane pruning; and the complexities of the malo-lactic fermentation process. Also included are some snipes at rival wineries, mainly in nearby Napa Valley; plugs for various restaurateurs and their establishments (presumably Iron Horse clients); and name-dropping of a host of political and entertainment figures with whom the author and her family have come in contact. One of Sterling's more successful sections deals with wine experts and their metaphorical jargon--about which she says, ironically, ``more often than not, winespeak is merely pretentious and boring.'' Touted by the publisher as a successor to Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence, Sterling's tale merely proves that charm, like wine, often doesn't travel well. (Ten watercolors)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-41989-6
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Villard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1993