Friday, January 27, 2017

Tangled Vines: a very short review

One of my holiday gifts this year was Francis Dinkelspiel's Tangled Vines: Greed, Murder, Obsession, and an Arsonist in the Vineyards of California

Which is, really, about a 2.5 hour read.

So it's perfectly reasonable to give this a really, really, really short review.

Who knew that a single warehouse in boring old Vallejo, California could possibly hold 400 million dollars worth of wine?

Who knew that a warehouse holding 400 million dollars worth of wine would not have a state-of-the-art sprinkler system?

Who knew that wine auctions, wine clubs, and fine wine in general, were such a magnet for money and greed, and such an opportunity for fraud and deceit?

Well, as regards that last question: I did.

So there.

Anyway, Tangled Vines manages to do a perfectly respectable job of telling a "true crime" story about a wine fraudster who committed one of the biggest acts of arson in the last hundred years in order to (unsuccessfully) cover up his fraud.

And, interleaved, it does a much nicer job of re-telling the 175-year-old store of winemaking in California, starting (more or less) with the Franciscan Missions, making sacramental wine for their services, and continuing on through the decades and centuries, with hiccups like Prohibition along the way.

If you've ever been to Rancho Cucamonga, you'll enjoy this book.

But most people on the planet have never thought much about Rancho Cucamonga, and I'm not sure I can really blame them.

Anyway, I enjoyed Tangled Vines, but I'm not suggesting you go out of your way to acquire it.

But if it should cross your desk (say, via your local Public Library), you'll probably enjoy it, too.

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