James Conaway's remarkable bestseller delves into the heart of California's lush and verdant Napa Valley, also known as America's Eden. Long the source of succulent grapes and singular wines, this region is also the setting for the remarkable true saga of the personalities behind the winemaking empires. This is the story of Gallos and Mondavis, of fortunes made and lost, of dynasties and destinies.
In this delightful, full-bodied social history, James Conaway charts the rise of a new aristocracy and, in so doing, chronicles the collective ripening of the American dream. More than a wine audiobook, Napa is a must-listen for anyone interested in our country's obsession with money, land, power, and prestige.
©2002 James Conaway; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
"Narrator John Morgan remains animated and engaged. He doesn't create character voices, but listeners will find scant need for them to identify the sources of quotes. His pace suits the enjoyable stories of locals struggling to survive and migrant laborers seeking a better life. The Spanish, French, and Italian vocabulary of enology taxes him a little but doesn’t spoil his excellent performance." (AudioFile)
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The general overview of the changes in the Napa Valley into the Napa Valley we know today.
It wasn't really necessary in this book since he's narrating, not acting the parts.
No, it was just good backstory and overview to the Napa Valley from sleepy little farming valley to internationally acclaimed wine-producing region, including the players who helped to make it that way.
I've been visiting the Napa Valley regularly since 1983 and am familiar with many of the players in this book and the events being shared here. Unfortunately, the narrator doesn't seem to be from the area, nor familiar with wine, and he constantly mangles the pronunciation of literally almost everything, even nearby towns like Vacaville, famous wines like Petrus, the mansion at Spring Mountain Vineyards (Miravalle, which is pronounced Mihir-uh-vye-ay but that he mangles as Mihr-uh-valle), and so on, even among the famous names that most anyone knows. It's both funny and distracting, but overall the story makes up for it.
As a newcomer to Napa Valley, for me this book has placed so much of the rich history in context. It has sent me looking on side roads for old wineries, satellite maps to find "Rutherford International Airport" and to the St Helena Public Cemetery to see the graves of John Daniel, Robert and Margrit Mondavi, and Andre Tchelistcheff. My only quibble with the book reading is that many of the names and locations are pronounced differently by the locals than reflected in the recording, leading to some confusion as I went asking after some things I heard (e.g., Chiles is pronounced like "miles" not like the peppers). But otherwise a very good performance and a gripping story.
After listening to about 60 books in seven months I've noticed something of a pattern. Quite frequently there is a wonderful dramatic narration with pronunciation of words that any educated person would find appalling. On a major level I'm shocked. Where are the producers? Are they unaware of the correct pronunciation of many words or are they too lazy to start the tape over. On a lesser level I understand the source of the errors-while actors sound marvelous, as a whole they are not educated people. What a shame !
If audio works for your commute or your walk, this one is very well done.
James Conaway tells the story of the people and issues that built Napa.
John Morgan delivers the story with perfection!
Tensions between growers and developers, owners and politicians, and locals are all told in vivid detail. Consider the debate about how many grapes are needed to name a wine from Napa ... 75%. Interested tensions in development and preservation of vinyards.
Brings the issues and successes of the area to life.
I am getting ready to visit Napa again and wanted to become more familiar with the history of Napa, including the cast of characters. I wasn't disappointed. By the way, I think John Morgan is probably the best narrator I have listened to, after listening to numerous books. Sorry Mr. Brick, I have a new favorite.
John Morgan needs to do better with pronunciation
No. It's a long dull look into the nuances of county zoning, local politics, and policy; I had been hoping for more discussion of the wines, winemakers, and wineries.
Maybe for a simpler topic.
If you know wine the mispronunciations will drive you nuts. As for content, The first half was terrific. History of Napa and it's pioneers. Second-half went on forever about politics in minute detail.
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