John Briscoe; CRUSH; University of Nevada Press (Nonfiction: Cooking) 34.95 ISBN: 9781943859498
Byline: Rachel Jagareski
John Briscoe's Crush: The Triumph of California Wine is a lively introduction to California's wine industry. Though blessed with a superb climate and geography for cultivating grapes, California winemakers endured centuries of obstacles, from a plague of vine-munching lice to the long years of "the ignoble experiment of Prohibition." Briscoe vivaciously recounts it all, along with intriguing portraits of the eccentric, passionate characters who shepherded California wines to their rightful place among the world's first-class wines.
Crush is made authoritative by primary-source accounts, chapter notes, and a thorough bibliography. Wine labels, maps, and other illustrations add historic flavor. Frequent sidebars about wine tasting, varietals, and farm-worker rights lend nice balance, as do the author's tart opinions on everything from the destructive mission period to "neo-Prohibitionist" forces.
Briscoe evokes clear pictures of the changing California landscape. Images of San Francisco firefighters pumping wine through their hoses into offshore tankers during the...