Ray Walker had a secure career in finance until a wine-tasting vacation ignited a passion that he couldn't stifle. Ray neglected his work, spending hours poring over ancient French winemaking texts, learning the techniques and the language, and daydreaming about vineyards. After Ray experienced his first taste of wine from Burgundy, he could wait no longer. He quit his job and went to France to start a winery - with little money, a limited command of French, and virtually no winemaking experience.
Fueled by determination and joie de vivre, he immersed himself in the extraordinary history of Burgundy's vineyards and began honing his skills. Ray became a pioneer in his use of ancient techniques in modern times and founded Maison Ilan. In 2009, Ray became the first non-French winemaker to purchase grapes and produce a wine from Le Chambertin, long considered to be one of the most revered and singular vineyards in the world.
Along with his struggle to capture his wine's distinct terroir, Ray shares enthralling stories of late-night tastings, flying down the Route National on a vintage Peugeot bicycle with no brakes, and his journey to secure both the trust of his insular Burgundian neighbors and the region's most coveted grapes. Capturing the sunlight, the smell of the damp soil, and the taste of superlative wine, The Road to Burgundy is a glorious celebration of finding one's true path in life, and taking a chance - whatever the odds.
©2013 Ray Walker (P)2013 Tantor
Better than average. The story is fairly simply told and not all that subtle, but as a Burgundy aficionado I had a great deal of interest in the subject matter. An added bonus is the book's clear depiction of an inveterate impulsive optimist.
Ray's optimism and impulsivity can get a bit tiring at times. I appreciated the down-to-earth Frenchmen he had to work with, like the two courtiers who help him find his grapes.
Someone fluent in French. You'd think that would have been the first requirement for this assignment.
There were many Cinderella moments, but the scenes where he obtains the rights to the grapes are pretty powerful.
The story is so compelling, at least to a wine geek like me, that despite the atrocious French pronunciation I would still recommend the book.
Yes, I would listen to it again. The book, to me, was very moving and poignant. It is about a man that literally drops everything to pursue his dreams and succeeds.
The fortuitousness of finding the grapes and the funding to pay for them.
No, my first book from this reader. I think he did an excellent job conveying the story.
When the farmer decided to to sell Ray the grapes.
Great book for any wine lover that dreams of ever producing their own wine.
My husband definitely would. He loved it. It's pure escapism and at the same time, it is a (mostly) true story. I found it far-fetched and a little bit contrived, but it is (mostly) a true story, and the narration just detracted from the overall experience.
To me, it was Ray Walker's return to Northern California after having spent months in Burgundy - and his comments on how life in France and French culture is different - what's important, the focus on freshness of meats and produce, how 'terroir' weaves into the fabric of french life in ways that just don't happen in the US.
The narrator did not add to the story at all - left a lot to be desired, and at times seemed snarky to me. He kept mispronouncing words like 'Beaune' (he pronounced it as 'Boone' as opposed to the correct pronunciation, phonetically 'Bone') a fairly important city in Burgundy. Initially I thought this oversight (there were others) was part of the charm of the story (San Fran native moves family to Burgundy to make wine, knows no french much less how to make wine), but this wasn't the case. How could one love Burgundy and then consistently mispronounce that great city's name or the Côte d'Or? Cringeworthy, but obviously I got over it.
One of the lessons of this story, I believe, is the underlying 'make it happen against all odds' David v. Goliath message. Walker understood his passion, never knew quite were it would take him, yet persevered through the stress, naysayers and uncertainty to arrive at a place in his life he never could have imagined. And he tells you at the end, it is worth imagining, believing and pursuing doggedly -- making happen what one may only dream about.
This book will make you jealous. Ray Walker found a passion. That passion grew into a dream. Hard work, and serendipity fermented into success. A love of wine, became a passion for making it. The Road to Burgundy is a long, and winding one. Full of twists, and turns. Bumps, and pot wholes. But a road you will love walking with Ray. I'll bet you will became so engrossed, that you, like I, will google Ray Walker to see what he is up to today.
Beautifully written, compelling story of courage and following a soul-calling. Thoroughly enjoyed it, and would wholeheartedly recommend this book!
Narration was beautifully done. Crisden's French accent, however - well, if he meant to convey that the author has (or had) an atrocious accent in French, he succeeded thoroughly. We nearly fell over laughing at his pronunciation of "Beaune" throughout the book...
I enjoyed this memoir of a guy who had a dream and followed that dream. He immersed himself in wine making and made his dream happen and he appears to have been fully supported by his wife. Not many of us would dare to give up a job, move to another country and culture and become an expert and success in a field we previously really knew nothing about. And not many partners would hold down the home fort an ocean away. Plus it was educational and well narrated.
Great story, well told, and full of wonderful information about Burgundy and basic wine making. This is a very enjoyable listen.
Man lives out his dream
thought Sean Crisden did wonderful job! Kept me involved and interested, doing an admirable job with difficult French pronunciations
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