By Virginie Boone

Whether you plan to be by the beach, the pool, on a plane, or just taking a moment away from work for a spell, summer is an ideal time for reading, and what’s more fun to read about than wine, food and the people who spend their lives creating, producing and enjoying it?

Here are a few wine-minded suggestions for what to read this summer.

History of the Sonoma Viticultural District: The Grape Growers, the Wine Makers and the Vineyards
Compiled by the late viticultural historian and winemaker Ernest P. Peninou in 1998, this is a fascinating compendium of Sonoma County’s historically documented vineyards and winemakers by area, with wine grape acreage statistics from 1856 to 1992, among other details. Peninou started compiling material for the book in 1946, taking decades to put it all together.

Inside the California Food Revolution: Thirty Years That Changed Our Culinary Consciousness
Written in 2013 by Chef Joyce Goldstein, the mother of beloved Master Sommelier and educator Evan Goldstein, this is a lovely and informative look at how we got to where we are in California – defined by our beautiful fresh produce and locally sourced ingredients – and about the farmers, ranchers, chefs and winemakers who played a part. The chapter on “Merging the Worlds of Wine and Food” is particularly interesting, with a detailed recounting of the birth of Wine Country Cuisine.

Judgment Of Paris: California Vs. France And The Historic 1976 Paris Tasting That Revolutionized Wine
Written by George M. Taber, the only American and only reporter to witness the tasting in real-time, this book is about the groundbreaking event that heralded California wine’s arrival to the world. The passing of two of the most important main characters earlier this year – winemakers Warren Winiarski and Mike Grgich – makes it a good time to revisit the riveting account of the events as they unfolded. The book provides an equally important historical perspective on the tasting’s aftereffects, which helped to upend the wine world’s impenetrable hierarchies and traditions.

On California: From Napa to Nebbiolo… Wine Tales from The Golden State
A collection of stories released in 2021 that are written by a wide array of people, this book includes a few standout chapters that consider Sonoma County. In one, Bloomberg journalist Elin McCoy calls Sonoma, “the heartland of relaxed rural living and delicate Pinot Noir,” and predicts that its diversity “gives the region more flexibility,” in the face of climate change.

Perfectly Paired: The Love Affair Behind an Iconic Wine
Bonny Meyer, the co-founder of Silver Oak and wife of the late wine legend Justin Meyer, provides a very personal, behind-the-scenes detailing of the couple’s love story and the beginnings of Silver Oak Cellars. Through detailed remembrances of the people and places that mattered at the time, she gives insight into the rise of California wine during the 1970s, 80’s and 90’s, including the establishment of Silver Oak in the Alexander Valley.

Pinot Rocks: A Winding Journey Through Intense Elegance
Kosta Browne co-founder/winemaker Michael Browne, now of Cirq Estate and Chev, released this memoir in 2020 to detail his pursuit of the American dream and encourage others to never give up their own dreams, whatever they may be. Along the way he recalls his childhood time in the circus, how he found wine and his love of storytelling and connecting with people, in addition to giving some thought to the haters and a little bit of wisdom about the wine business. It’s a page-turning read. If you prefer a listen, the audiobook is narrated by none other than William Shatner.

Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman: Conservation Heroes of the American Heartland
Author Miriam Horn profiles the men and women of agriculture across this country who love the land, their communities and way of life and work hard to preserve and sustain it. While there’s nothing specific to wine grapes, the shared challenges, stresses and joys of a life on the land transcends specifics.

The Widow Clicquot :The Story of A Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It
Tilar J. Mazzeo’s compelling bestselling biography about Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin gets to the heart of a woman who ignored the cultural conventions of the 19th century to run a Champagne empire after her husband’s death, steering it to the enormous heights we know today as Veuve Clicquot. A marketing genius and super taster, among the widow’s many gifts to the world is the riddling rack. A film based on the book comes out in theaters July 19.Watch the trailer here.

The World in a Wineglass
Traveling to a wine region this summer? You might want to consult Food & Wine Executive Editor Ray Isle’s guide to environmentally friendly wines from around the world, released last November. For friends traveling here, the sizable chapter on California highlights many Sonoma County producers. Subtitled “The Insider’s Guide to Artisanal, Sustainable, Extraordinary Wines to Drink Now,” the book asks wine drinkers to value wines and wineries that promote sustainability, underscoring that the way a wine is made and who made it can change the way we experience it, taking a farming-first approach across wine regions.

Image by Browne Family Wines