Monday, September 21, 2015

Book Review: "Wines of Vermont"

I have a soft spot for wine books that focus on the history of wine within a specific state *, so I was very enthusiastic about purchasing the recently published Wines of Vermont written by Todd Trzaskos. Full disclaimer, Todd is a friend that I've known for a number of years. And on occasion he has provided me with a couple of his excellent homemade wines that Deirdre Heekin mentions in the book's forward. That being said, this is an excellent resource, not only with it's portrayal of the past and present wine environment in Vermont, but more importantly, expanding upon the Green Mountain States' geography, history, culture, and agricultural industry. It's this expanded coverage which separates Wines of Vermont from similar books and provides an underlying basis for the rise of Vermont's unique wine culture. 

theCompass view of
Vermont's 30+
wineries & cider houses
The book starts with a detailed review of Vermont's geography from the birth of it's mountains, to the limestone soils, to the consequences of past glacier activity. One interesting fact is that the Taconic and Green Mountain ranges "represent the eroded remains of some of the first mountains on earth...".  Part II delves into Vermont's wine culture, from it's shared heritage with Quebec to the rise of the Farm to Table movement. Part III augments the Farm to Table culture by describing the plethora of fruit agricultural products grown in Vermont, finishing with a detailed description of wine grapes. Pay close attention to the Minnesota breeds. Part IV encompasses the Farmers and Winemakers who gave birth to and advanced the Vermont wine industry. I had expected the book to start with this topic, but by holding back this information, Trzaskos provides the reader with a clearer understanding of the risks and rewards experienced by these industrious entrepreneurs.  Who in their right mind would plant Pinot Noir in the shores of Lake Champlain? Or bases their winery operation on native yeast fermented Marquette and La Crescent?  The Wines of Vermont reveals this information and much more and forces the reader to admire and appreciate "the people from the little state of Vermont".

* Two recent books are Richard Leahy's Beyond Jefferson's Vines: The Evolution of Quality Wine in Virginia and Regina McCarthy's Maryland Wine: A Full-Bodied History (American Palate).
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