Synopses & Reviews
An intoxicating memoir of an American who discovers a passion for French wine, and gambles everything to chase a dream of owning a vineyard in Burgundy
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.
"Drinking wine and talking about it is pretty much a given when you live in California's Bay Area, near multitudes of vineyards. Nevertheless, Walker inherited a disdain for wine from his parents who proclaimed it a drink for snobs. But during a trip to Italy with his fiancÃ©e, Walker tasted a new world. 'I took a bite of my spaghetti, working the tender noodles and rich tomato, herb and olive oil around in my mouth, and then swished with a sip of wine. It was alchemy.' His curiosity about wines blossomed, then grew into a full-blown obsession, until he found himself living out his dream in the vineyards of Burgundy and making a wine of his own. In this rich account, Walker chronicles his five-year journey from Northern California to the French countryside with self-deprecating humor and earnestness. Whether he's learning French from cable television, convincing his wife of the validity of his plan, deconstructing the terroir of Burgundy, or negotiating a price for some of the 'most precious grapes in the world,' Walker fearlessly plunges in. Wine geeks will enjoy Walker's blow-by-blow account of the winemaking process. Those less inclined to appreciate wine's back story can revel in his descriptions of Burgundy's food and lifestyle. Walker's tale evokes the exquisite thrill of finding and following your passion, no matter how crazy it might seem. Agent: Sharon Bowers, Miller Bowers Griffin Literary. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
An intoxicating memoir of an American who discovers a passion for French wine and gambles everything to chase a dream of owning a vineyard in Burgundy
Ray Walker had a secure career in finance until a wine-tasting vacation ignited a passion he couldnt stifle. He quit his job and moved to France to start a winerywith little money, limited command of the French language, and no winemaking experience. He immersed himself in the extraordinary history of Burgundys vineyards and began honing his skills. Ray shares his journey to secure the regions most coveted grapes. The Road to Burgundy is a glorious celebration of finding ones true path in life and taking a chancewhatever the odds.
About the Author
Ray Walker lives with his wife, Christian, and their two daughters, Isabella Ilan and Siena Jesline, in Burgundy, France.