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Photo by Anne Woodard

     I was the guest of Jane’s Readers Club tonight at RiverRead Books. The evening started with a review of Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs. It was fun being an author sitting among a group of readers telling what they thought of a story, what the author was trying to accomplish and whether they found her successful. I imagined what it would be like if the group was discussing my novel, and what I was trying to accomplish with A Sudden Gift of Fate and whether they found my effort successful.
     After their discussion, I spoke about the selection of Finger Lakes wines Jane had set out for a sampling, telling them the history of wine grapes in New York and what I’d learned about the wine industry while researching the book. After they sampled two Rieslings, a dry and semi-dry, then I read from the novel and answered their questions about writing it. One woman, Donna, had a similar background, Syracuse U. art grad, loved music, thought of combining the two into designing record album covers. Small world!
     I found out that Jane’s husband grew up on Italy Hill, one of the locales in the novel! Even smaller world!
     It was a delightful evening made all the cozier by its great location, the always fabulous RiverRead!


As the pumpkin at Jackson Farms says, "This season, fall into a book!"

Reminder: Tomorrow is the official book launch for A Sudden Gift of Fate from 2-5 p.m. at RiverRead Books, 5 Court Street, Binghamton.  Festivities will include a reading, Q&A with the author (mise), book signing and sampling of Finger Lakes wines. Hope to see you there!

Hunt Country's Foxy Lady Blush is made with Catawba grapes

Hunt Country's Foxy Lady Blush is made with Catawba grapes

     One of my favorite moments this year at a Finger Lakes winery occurred at Hunt Country Vineyards on Keuka Lake. After a tasting, three women wandered into the gift shop and exclaimed about one of Hunt Country’s popular wine series, “Oooh, Foxy Lady! Gotta get some of that!”
     After doing research on the grapes and winery processes used in the Finger Lakes, I now know why that series name is so clever.
     The first wine grapes planted in the Finger Lakes, the so-called “native” Vitis labrusca, are also known as fox grapes. They are distinguished by their strong grapey taste. Varieties include Niagara, Catawba, Delaware, Diamond, Isabella and Concord. These grapes tend to produce sweeter wines, and they were all the rage back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. (Remember Lake Niagara and Pink Catawba?)
     Winemakers who wanted to make European-style wines, with grapes that offer a broader range of sweetness from dry to dessert, spurned the fox grapes and instead focused on French-American hybrids and Vitis vinifera grapes such as Chardonnay, Riesling, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon.
     Some Finger Lakes winemakers feel it’s important to keep the native grapes for their historical value. I agree. Having grown up visiting Keuka Lake wineries, I believe (as Hunt Country does) that there is a place for the foxy grapes among all the others on a winemaker’s palate. This year I had two wonderful foxy wines from Keuka Lake, a semi-dry Delaware (Keuka Lake Vineyards) and bright refreshing Diamond (Barrington Cellars). 
     While foxy wines might not share the prestige of hybrids and viniferas, they’re part of Finger Lakes winemaking history and its taste. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful for the efforts of Dr. Konstantin Frank to bring us viniferas (tonight I had a glass of Anthony Road’s brilliant 2008 Semi-Dry Riesling  — named best NY wine of the year). 
     But  as Jimi Hendrix sang, “Ooh, foxy lady!” And who’d argue with Jimi?



     Last night I added a bit of Finger Lakes viticulture history to the beginning of each chapter in the sequel. Spent the whole day doing research on when grape varieties were introduced into the region. Fascinating stuff. Gives me a lot of respect for the work being done in the vineyards at Loughmare Winery.
     One more read through, finish up the cover and I’ll be shipping “A Sudden Gift of Fate” off for publication. Phew! Can’t wait. Just in time for the new vintages to be bottled….

book jacket

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What readers are saying:
"This endearing foursome, that so many readers of the first book fell in love with, face new challenges with Irish wit and a generally upbeat outlook on life. They're a group of friends that anyone would want to hang out with."
"After finishing it, I kept thinking of the characters and wondered how they were doing. I had to remind myself they weren't real and had to let them go..."
"I couldn't put it down."
"Pure dead brilliant!"

The Prequel

book jacket

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Cost: $20

The story

Irish couple Fergal and Brídgeen Griffin get an intriguing wedding gift: the chance to manage a Finger Lakes winery. When they move to Keuka Lake from Queens, see the rundown winery and meet its surly winemaker, they realize it will be quite a challenge getting from grapevine to bottle.
Meanwhile their friends Maeve and Andy face a challenge of their own, separation as he pursues experimental therapy for his paraplegia.
As the two couples face the challenges ahead, will they be able to keep hope alive?

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A Sudden Gift of Fate: Sequel to the novel The Cyber Miracles

Podcast Interviews

* Listen to my interview with Bill Jaker on his WSKG radio show, "Off the Page" here.
* Listen to my 10/21/2009 interview with Morgen McLaughlin on her BlogTalk Radio show, "Finger Lakes Wine Talk" here.

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