A week before her wedding, Georgia discovers a secret her fiance, Ben, has been keeping from her. Her first impulse is to hop in her car and drive the 9 hours home to her parents’ vineyard in Sebastopol, CA. Still in the wedding dress she had been wearing for her final fitting, what she finds when she arrives at her parents’ house just adds to her distress — her parents have separated, her brothers are fighting, and the biggest shock of all, they’re selling the vineyard.
Georgia falls right back into her family role — she ignores what’s going on in her own life and is determined to repair everything that has fallen apart, starting with the vineyard. She butts heads with Jacob, the head of the giant wine corporation that is buying the vineyard, convinced he does not have what’s best for the vineyard or her father at heart. When Ben shows up, determined to explain himself, Georgia can’t ignore him anymore. But now she’s not sure if marrying Ben is what she really wants.
Eight Hundred Grapes alternates Georgia’s story with that of her father and his journey with the vineyard over the 3 decades he’s owned it — deciding to buy the land during a time when Sonoma County wasn’t well known, meeting Georgia’s mother (they have an awesome meet cute), the struggle of growing the right grapes and all that comes with the harvest. There are also some interesting descriptions of what it takes to grow the right grapes and how the wine is made. There’s a definite disdain for people who drink wine just to get drunk, and the Ford family are unabashed wine snobs, which is to be expected from those who make it.
Eight Hundred Grapes is a modern day romance that examines relationships of all kinds with lots of wine references and is a good book for an end-of-summer read.
Notes on the audiobook: This novel is read by Joy Osmanski, a narrator who has a long list of women’s fiction in her catalog. While her male voices sound similar, her voice is engaging and always keeps my attention. To hear an excerpt from the book, along with a video of author Laura Dave explaining the secret to her delicious lasagna, visit Eight Hundred Grapes at Simon & Schuster.