Who knew that the next big thing in wine books would be regional wine? But that's the case, with publishers scrambling to find writers who can do justice to the subject.
In this, Richard Leahy's publisher found the perfect author. I suppose there might be a couple of people who know more about Virginia wine than Leahy does, but they haven't come forward yet. "Beyond Jefferson's Vines" ($19.95, Sterling Publishing) reflects this knowledge -- it's comprehensive, authoritative, and complete. Those of a technical bent will find thorough discussions of terroir and grape growing and wine making techniques, while those who want the broader picture (as well as suggestions for Virginia wine tours) will get that as well.
More, after the jump:
Which, actually, is the reason why I know that Leahy knows so much about Virginia wine. He demonstrated it when we held our conference in Virginia two years ago, and he demonstrates it again with this book. Some highlights:
• A discussion of the state's support for Virginia wine and why that matters -- not just for the wine industry, but for Virginia taxpayers. Over the past couple of years, as other states (including New York and Texas) cut funding for their wine industries, Virginia increased what it spent. Or, as the state agriculture commissioner (who has an MBA) told Leahy: "The wineries are catalysts for growth, but also generate hospitality and tourism revenues; I see that for the future even more than today."
• Virginia wine and the U.S. wine media. This, as regular visitors here know, is a topic of great interest on the blog. Leahy looks at how the the Winestream Media perceives Virginia (and regional wine), and how that seems to be changing. He is optimistic that the changes will continue, driven by the improvement in regional wines and the Internet, which has made regional wine writing more accessible to consumers.
• The state's wine history, which usually starts and ends with Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson is widely regarded as the father of U.S. wine for his efforts in the 18th century to grow grapes and make wine, even though he wasn't successful. Leahy goes into more detail, tracing possible influences on Jefferson as well as the birth of the norton grape and how all of that affected the modern Virginia industry.