I’ve always wanted to go to wine country but have yet to plan the trip or save enough dollars to go. However, I did find another way to experience it! Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave, released June 2, gave me a little taste of Sonoma, California with this vibrant yet well-balanced story.
Georgia Ford, the youngest of three siblings and a corporate lawyer in Southern California, runs home to her family’s vineyard in Sonoma County after some unexpected news about her fiancé just two weeks before their wedding. She couldn’t wait to leave her childhood home after high school but now it’s the only place she wants to be as her world is turned upside down. The annual harvest is normally a jovial and celebratory atmosphere but she finds upon her return that her family is dealing with drama of their own.
The things Georgia had relied upon her whole life were no longer as they appeared; the family business, her fiancé, the strength of her family, even who she thought she was and what she wanted from life.
The thing I loved most about the story were its characters. They were rich in personality and the banter between old friends, siblings, even “enemies” was engaging, witty, and real.
Another thing I enjoyed about the book was that the author gave a sense of place with its past and present narrative. She intertwines details of the bucolic nature of her family’s home since 1979, mixing the past and present, giving the reader a fuller understanding of what the land truly means to all of them.
I even learned a little about winemaking while reading this book! Eight hundred grapes refers to how many grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine and learned about the myriad of elements that determine how the wine turns out. The author made a great analogy between the synchronicity of winemaking and the synchronicity of life and carried the theme throughout the story very well.
This was a complex read in that it was light-hearted and witty as well as heavy and emotional. By the end of the book, I felt like I was part of the Ford family and was sad for their story to end. It’s a quick but enjoyable read and I highly recommend!
Have you read Eight Hundred Grapes or another of Laura Dave’s novels? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks!