A Delicious Read to Enjoy With a Glass of California Pinot

California summer. A vineyard. A fiancé with a British accent. A wedding dress that’s been somewhat rumpled by a nine-hour drive in the opposite direction from said fiancé . . . there’s a lot to love in the opening pages of Laura Dave’s novel EIGHT HUNDRED GRAPES. But before you dive in, you should pause to pour yourself a glass of wine (or maybe order a plate of lasagna!) because Dave stuffs this story of family, love, and secrets with so many delicious descriptions that you’ll want to taste everything yourself.

Georgia Ford grew up on her family’s idyllic Sonoma Country vineyard watching her parents craft the seasons and grapes into a fine art through their wine. It was a beautiful childhood, but Georgia especially savored watching her parents’ happy partnership, her brothers’ loving friendship, and the warmth of their family togetherness. So when a week before her wedding Georgia accidentally stumbles (at her final gown fitting, no less!) into a secret her fiancé’s been hiding, her immediate reaction is to escape back to her family home where everything always makes sense.

Unfortunately, she finds anything but escape. Her brothers are fighting, her parents are on the brink of changing their lives forever, and Georgia is caught trying to make a life-changing decision of her own.

EIGHT HUNDRED GRAPES is escapist reading at its best because not only are there sun-dappled fields to picture, a dashing neighbor vying for Georgia’s attention, and behind-the-scenes winemaking (author Laura Dave took her wine research seriously!)—there is also real heart. Laura Dave takes what seems to be a romantic comedy and spins it into a thoughtful meditation on the nature of love, partnership, and family—and what it means to take your life into your own hands.

Interwoven between Georgia’s modern-day story is the background of her parents’ early love and the dedication and commitment it took for them to build the vineyard. Dave does a fantastic job linking the secrets of good winemaking into lessons for building healthy relationships—both romantic and familial. Like the wine, relationships are a product of “synchronization . . . the coordination of events to happen in union.” In the vines it’s a combination of good soil, weather conditions, and a devotion to the process; among people it’s building a foundation, the right timing, and faith in your commitment.

Not that anyone needs an excuse to open a nice California pinot, but Dave’s gorgeous writing and subtle wisdom will have you decanting your own bottle of EIGHT HUNDRED GRAPES, have you believing in vino veritas, and leave you smiling until the very last drop.


Elizabeth Breeden works in the marketing department at Simon & Schuster. Follow her on Twitter @eliz_breeden