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Jul 29, 2010 08:41 PM

Todd Kliman's "The Wild Vine"

Todd Kliman’s “The Wild Vine” is a new non-fiction book about an obscure American wine grape.

The Norton.

It starts off like a good detective story (Who Killed the Norton?), becomes intriguing, eventually compelling, and by the end my heart was racing with its connection of American history, social construct, perseverance, transformation, love, and death.

I am still shaking a bit from reading it.

Like the best of books, it made me think of greater things than its subject matter. As if watching a storm blow in, I thought of howling…. other than the wind’s howling.

Highly recommended. For a wine lover, required reading.

Has anyone ever heard of the Norton? It is still produced. The book talks about Horton Vineyards as well as Chrysalis, both in Virginia.

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  1. It's still produced. AKA Cynthiana. From a wine-making standpoint, it's probably the best native North American grape. Rightly or wrongly, I think of central Missouri as its spiritual homeland.

    1 Reply
    1. re: carswell

      Wow, you go to the head of the class! Bonus points for mentioning Missouri.

      I think there is some question if it really is the same grape as Cynthiana, but no matter. After reading this book, I feel connected to the grape, the soil, everything. I want to try some right this minute!

    2. There's a thread about Norton here

      I don't understand the title of Klimans book, its not a 'wild vine'.

      I read the first few pages in a book shop but it put me off being terrible wordy about the smalled detail of where he was going etc.

      Chrysalis claims the largest plantings of Norton and makes it their speciality.

      I have had about half--a-dozen Nortons and liked them. Big beefy reds

      2 Replies
      1. re: Gussie Finknottle

        Some of those small details figure prominently later on. Just like a good detective story.

        Since you only read a few pages in the bookstore, you can't be expected to understand the title......

        1. re: Steve

          Fair point, Steve.

          I would have bought the book but for its raggedy pages. I found another copy last week in a different shop and that has the same edging. Looks like a faulty print run.