This third outing in Ellen Crosby’s “Wine Country” mysteries is as history- and lore-filled as the first two. This time, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson take a role, along with a 200-year-old bottle of Bordeaux supposedly purchased for Washington by Jefferson.
For a Californian such as myself, “wine country” is the Napa Valley region, so it has been with great interest that I have read Ellen Crosby’s series, placed in the wine-growing section of Virginia. The climate is different there, and the terroir is unique. Crosby has done her research, and even though the mystery is the crux of the tale, the wine flavors each word and provides a heady background for the mystery to unfold.
Vineyard owner Lucie Montgomery has a lot in her glass. Her unconventional winemaker, Quinn Santori, continues the battle to create wine his way. Added to the mix is an old flame, surprise family visits, and Lucie’s ongoing recovery from a serious automobile accident. The harvest is due to come in, a charity wine auction is in the making, and the rare and special bottle of Bordeaux is front and center.
Another Virginia tradition comes into play when newcomers fight the longstanding institution of foxhunting, closing their acreage to the Hunt. A traditionalist at heart, Lucie tries to smooth over the tensions, but murder rears its ugly head. Now she is stuck juggling all her usual tasks plus trying to figure out who would want author and wine historian Valerie Beauvais dead.
Crosby does a great job letting those who are not knowledgeable on wine how the flow of vineyards and winemaking goes. The plot is somewhat convoluted, with a slew of new characters mixed in with those from previous books. Yet reading the earlier books is not necessary to the enjoyment of this one. The historical aspect is fascinating, as are the tidbits about Washington and Jefferson’s oft-onerous relationship.
The local color, comments about the climate, autumn in Virginia, the ages-old newcomers versus old-timers and the food make the book a delightful read as well as an educational one. Third in a series well worth checking out, this entry is delightful and enjoyable. The fourth book, The Riesling Retribution, is also now available.
A “terroir " is a collection of vines from the same region, belonging to a specific designation, and sharing the same type of soil, weather conditions, grapes and winemaking savvy, which contribute to give its specific personality to the wine.