Summer in a Glass: The Coming of Age of Winemaking in the Finger Lakes
By Evan Dawson
Read Sept 2017
The beauty of book discussion groups! A local library’s approach to book discussions is to set a theme and have each participant share a book within that theme. I wasn’t sure how this would work but now I know: IT DOES!
The theme of my first foray with this group was “Wine” — about wine or wine in the title.
A book shared at that meeting with a “thumbs up” recommendation: Summer in a Glass by Evan Dawson.
I now provide a “thumbs up” and recommend you to read as well.
I live in the Finger Lakes in the summer and I listen to Evan Dawson’s daily show on Rochester’s NPR affiliate WXXI so this seemed a natural book for me to try. I read it in only a very few sittings and was sorry to see it end. Evan’s articulate and crisp voice comes through as he describes with clear joy and appreciation his encounters with some of the best winemakers/wineries in the area. He provides some of their personal history in getting to their place in the story of Finger Lakes winemaking. I was pleased to learn that collaboration and knowledge sharing is rampant in the Finger Lakes. These wineries want to make world-class wines and they want the world to understand this. They believe–and walk the talk—that success of any individual winery can raise the profile of the region and engage more people to visit and enjoy them all—now over 100 in number.
I knew pieces of the stories of some of these wineries—which I’ve visited with frequency. Others I knew less about and now I know why—some of these winery owners are very private. I’m glad to have learned more about them and will appreciate their wine and facility even more during future visits.
Evan’s writing is brisk, concise, and engaging. He’s packed 12 stories with index and acknowledgements into 266 pages. He’s revealed a little, but not too much, about himself as he’s not the focus of the work. But his desire to understand the region and tell others about it required a dedicated journey so it’s appropriate to learn about specific days and encounters. He starts and ends with the story of a young winemaker from Germany, his strong desire to stay in the Finger Lakes, and the immigration challenges he has faced. The reader wants him to stay too as we learn about the great wine he’s made and especially as we learn about his desire and efforts to help make all Finger Lakes wineries great. By the end of the book word from the Labor Department about his final appeal hadn’t been obtained so it ends with a cliff hanger as well as a toast to this winemaker for the positive impact he’s made on a number of wineries.
The book was published in 2011 so I hoped that I could learn the outcome of Johannes’s wait and that it would be positive. I was delighted to learn that it was and he and his wife are making wine not too far from where I live. Yeah!
In summary—a pretty fast and very enjoyable read to learn about the NY Finger Lakes Wine Region and the people who are enabling it to be considered one of the world’s great wine regions.