WINE--A GENTLEMAN'S GAME: The Adventures of an Amateur Winemaker Turned Professional by Mark Miller

WINE--A GENTLEMAN'S GAME: The Adventures of an Amateur Winemaker Turned Professional

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A mild-mannered informal history of one of the best New York State ""boutique"" wineries. Benmarl Vineyards, which somewhat antedates the nation-wide winery boom, was one of the first to realize the possibilities of the Seyval Blanc grape and other hardy French hybrids in the Hudson Valley region. (Earlier in the century, that orchard area had supported a number of native grape vineyards for juice and jellymaking, as well as a few long-defunct experiments--including the present site of Benmarl--in growing American hybrid grapes for winemaking.) Miller, who acquired the deserted farm in 1957 as a getaway from his work as a magazine illustrator in the city, pleasantly recounts a predictable hobby-to-profession path: lifelong love of wines; inexpert but fairly well-directed (and lucky) amateur endeavors at the new property; the infusion of critical savvy from a six-year sojourn in the heart of the Cote d'Or; the final establishment of Benmarl as a paying business. It's an attractive enough story, the more so for Miller's own line drawings. But it falls between two stools--with too little narrative satisfaction for the memoir-audience, too little technical detail for out-and-out wine buffs. For those in the field, the book's most tantalizing aspect may be Miller's fragmentary but provocative sketch of the political collision between the giant western New York State producers (virtually synonymous with bad wine, but not about to share their clout in Albany with interlopers) and the growing crop of small high-quality wineries in several parts of the state. There would be quite a book in a no-holds-barred account of that struggle, and Miller sounds as if he would love to provide it--but not in this blandly agreeable autobiography.

Pub Date: March 14th, 1984
Publisher: Harper & Row