Review

A Vineyard in Tuscany: Shooting for the Moon

by Ferenc Máté

There is something both exhilarating and heartwarming reading
the exploits of an author who lives and ultimately accomplishes his
dream. The story becomes even more uplifting when his or her
aspirations can be shared by readers who have experienced the joys
described in the adventure. Ferenc Máté had a dream to
move to Tuscany, own a vineyard and produce award-winning wine. A
VINEYARD IN TUSCANY is the story of how he and his wife
accomplished that goal. For anyone who has visited the beautiful
province described in his glorious prose and partaken of the wines
produced in its vineyards, this book is to be savored and enjoyed,
just like a fine Chianti or other exquisite wine of the
region.

Of course one does not just decide on a whim that a Tuscan vineyard
is their life ambition. Máté sets the scene for readers
by describing in beautiful detail his family life in Italy. He and
his wife Candace, a painter, had purchased and restored a small
villa in Tuscany called La Marinaia (an apt name for property owned
by Máté, who has written several books with nautical
themes). While he loved the property, the two acres of land were
far too small to allow him to fulfill his dream: the production of
a world-class wine with his name on the label. An undertaking such
as this requires far more than growing grapes. Italian winemakers
toil on the land where their grapes are produced and attend to each
and every aspect of the wine production. The end product is the
result of personal blood, sweat and tears.

A VINEYARD IN TUSCANY details Máté’s search for
precisely the right piece of property on which to produce his wine.
But the property is but one of many required pieces of the dream.
After finding what seemed to be a glorious vineyard of 15 acres,
Máté meets his vintner neighbor, Angelo Gaja, and learns
the story behind the production of the world-renowned Gaja wines.
It would serve as a roadmap and inspiration for Máté.
Shortly after their first meeting, Gaja presents him with a $400
housewarming gift: a bottle of Sori San Lorenzo wine.
Máté’s dinner guests treat the gift as though it is
the Holy Grail.

The new vineyard requires several laborious tasks before wine can
be produced. The property includes a 13th century friary that will
be converted into a home and winery. As the author details the
rebuilding and construction effort, readers can almost see the
dollar bills (or perhaps, more appropriately, the Euros)
hemorrhaging from his accounts. One thing is clear from this book:
producing a world-class wine is neither a simple task nor an effort
where one cuts financial corners. For Máté the end result
is the achievement of his dream. His wines receive international
acclaim; in fact, his Máté Syrah is voted the 2007
Italian Wine of the Year. The book’s last pages contain
information and comments on the various products of the vineyard.
Italian food lovers will also find some classic Tuscan recipes to
please the palate while enjoying any fine wine.

A VINEYARD IN TUSCANY is a delightful and humorous tale that
combines elements of travelogue and wine drinking for readers
interested in either subject. Anyone who has traveled to Tuscany or
Italy will find pleasure in the detail of the Italian countryside
as recreated by Máté. Any lover of wine will understand
why the Italians take meticulous effort to produce wines that have
no equal in the world. Like the wines he creates, Máté
has written a book that readers can consume with pleasure and
delight.

Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on January 24, 2011

A Vineyard in Tuscany: Shooting for the Moon
by Ferenc Máté

  • Publication Date: November 17, 2008
  • Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction
  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Albatross
  • ISBN-10: 0920256589
  • ISBN-13: 9780920256589