The best books about wine, love, and landscape

Who am I?

I am a winegrower, farmer, writer, photographer, and pop-upeuse. I fell in love with food and wine while living and working in Italy, then returned stateside to create an homage to the people and place that embraced us and taught us so much. That endeavor--the restaurant osteria pane e salute opened with my chef husband Caleb Barber—was where I curated the wine program and became passionate about wines farmed artfully. I began working as a winegrower in 2007, a personal landscape experiment that led me down the rabbit hole of growing and making wine from hybrid varieties focused on regenerative viticulture and low intervention winemaking.

I wrote...

An Unlikely Vineyard: The Education of a Farmer and Her Quest for Terroir

By Deirdre Heekin,

Book cover of An Unlikely Vineyard: The Education of a Farmer and Her Quest for Terroir

What is my book about?

Against all odds, I planted vines on my hillside farm in Vermont believing that what I was embarking on was a small experimental and personal project about growing natural wine in the fringe wine region of Vermont. What happened instead was the blossoming of a vineyard that has become one of the most creative projects in American wine. An Unlikely Vineyard tells the story of our farm and winery, our kitchen and table, from overgrown fields to a fertile, productive, and beautiful landscape that melds with its natural environment.

We wanted to create, or rediscover, a true sense of place using the philosophy and techniques gleaned from organic gardening, permaculture, and regenerative farming. Written as a joyful and inspiring narrative that celebrates wine, food, farms, and connecting with the landscape.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Naked Wine: Letting Grapes Do What Comes Naturally

Why did I love this book?

Wine writer, and now friend, Alice Feiring has often been controversial, but she has always been a champion of the kinds of wines I love, natural wines that are allowed to tell the story of where they are grown and the people who steward them. Her book Naked Wine came out in 2011, just a year after my first very small vintage of natural wines. In her own tale of making wine in Oregon and her journey tracing the roots of modern natural wine in France, Spain, and America rang so clearly for me from her stories of a wine made in a fixer-upper farmhouse in France replete with scorpions to a vineyard cum garden of Eden scented with mint and thyme in Spain, I realized I not only loved wines that told stories, but writers who tell the stories of wine and place.

This book, an icon of its time, inspired my own writing about my journey in wine, food, and place, encouraging me to capture the stories of my own fixer-upper farm, the planting of my vineyard, orchard, and gardens scented with roses and sweet clover as a way to have a meaningful and thoughtful conversation with my own landscape in both my wine and my writing.

By Alice Feiring,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Naked Wine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Naked wine is wine stripped down to its basics,wine as it was meant to be: wholesome, exciting, provocative, living, sensual, and pure. Naked, or natural, wine is the opposite of most New World wines today Alice Feiring calls them overripe, over-manipulated, and overblown" and makes her case that good (and possibly great) wine can still be made, if only winemakers would listen more to nature and less to marketers, and stop using additives and chemicals. But letting wine make itself is harder than it seems. Three years ago, Feiring answered a dare to try her hand at natural winemaking. In…

Book cover of South of Somewhere: Wine, Food, and the Soul of Italy

Why did I love this book?

I have long loved Robert Camuto’s writing about living in Italy and the wines and winemakers he’s discovered. My own food and wine awakening happened while living and working in Italy, so naturally I gravitate to books that take place there or tell the stories of others who’ve chosen to live there against all odds. Robert Camuto’s newest book South of Somewhere has quickly risen to my list of favorites. In this evocation, he traces his own history back to the town of his ancestors, and the relationship that evolves from a life-defining memory of a childhood summer in this village to his exploration and understanding of it as an adult. His work captures the essence of Italy, Italian life, and Italian wine: “the chaos that gives birth to inspiration”.

From chapters on the nostalgia of that Southern Italian childhood summer to a series of portraits of winegrowers from Italy’s south, who they are, and how they live deeply in their magical and sensuous world, Camuto also captures the essence of dark and light in this endlessly fascinating culture.

By Robert V. Camuto,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked South of Somewhere as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Best Wine Book of 2021
A Washington Post Best Wine Book of 2021
Named one of the Best Wine Books of 2021 by Henry Jeffreys,

South of Somewhere begins and ends in American writer Robert Camuto's maternal ancestral town of Vico Equense, Italy-a tiny paradise south of Naples on the Sorrento Peninsula. It was here in 1968, at ten years old, that the author first tasted Italian life, spending his own summer of love surrounded by relatives at the family's seaside pizzeria and restaurant. He fell in love with a way of living and with…

Book cover of Upstream: Selected Essays

Why did I love this book?

Mary Oliver, as a poet and an essayist, writes with a lyric sword. Upstream is a collection of essays that reflect her willingness to lose herself in the mysteries and intricacies of the natural world. In this work, Oliver contemplates the joy of her work, her passionate eye for observation, her ability and responsibility to write and think about the flora and fauna, the flowers, the grass, the water, the sky, and how they connect us to the natural world, to each other, and to ourselves.

The sheer power of her writing and command of language has always drawn me in, what pushes me as a person, a farmer, and a writer to give into the “stream” of our consciousness, to stop and observe, but to also keep moving forward with the power of words and my experience of the world around me.

By Mary Oliver,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Upstream as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of O, The Oprah Magazine's Ten Best Books of the Year

The New York Times bestselling collection of essays from beloved poet, Mary Oliver.

"There's hardly a page in my copy of Upstream that isn't folded down or underlined and scribbled on, so charged is Oliver's language . . ." -Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air

"Uniting essays from Oliver's previous books and elsewhere, this gem of a collection offers a compelling synthesis of the poet's thoughts on the natural, spiritual and artistic worlds . . ." -The New York Times

"In the beginning I was so young and such…

The Orchard: A Memoir

By Adele Crockett Robertson,

Book cover of The Orchard: A Memoir

Why did I love this book?

The Orchard is a mesmerizing story of one woman’s efforts to save her family farm in Depression-era Massachusetts. It is a glimmering and moving memoir of “Kitty” Robertson’s determination to save the small orchard she inherited from her father, the last thing that linked her family to their history. It is a story of struggle and determination, and she is a heroine who didn’t receive medals or accolades or fortune for accepting the bone-cold physical labor in winters, inherited debt, broken dreams. Somehow she is able to still see the beauty in the grit of farm life in a grim period, spring blossoms in the orchard, the green of summer, the kindness of neighbors as they help each other through challenge after challenge.

In the end, it is a narrative of redemption and victory and reminds me that the life of farming and writing is hard scrapple, but it is done in community and with ever-needed hope. If we remember to open our eyes to the natural and cultivated world around us, we reap the beauty of our landscapes.

By Adele Crockett Robertson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Orchard as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Orchard is an exquisitely beautiful and poignant memoir of a young woman's single-handed struggle to save her New England farm in the depths of the Great Depression. Recently discovered by the author's daughter, it tells the story of Adele "Kitty" Robertson, young and energetic, but unprepared by her Radcliffe education for the rigors of apple farming in those bitter times. Alone at the end of a country road, with only a Great Dane for company, plagued by debts, broken machinery, and killing frosts, Kitty revives the old orchard after years of neglect. Every day is a struggle, but every…

Pioneer Species

By Ross Thurber,

Book cover of Pioneer Species

Why did I love this book?

Pioneer Species is a book of poems by friend and farmer-poet Ross Thurber. A small vineyard I work with in southern Vermont, my own agricultural essay and investigation on a sense of place different than my own, is part of Ross’s Lilac Ridge Farm. Like Mary Oliver, Ross is intensely bound to the natural and cultivated world of his farm in which he lives and his poems capture a language that brings forward the light, the shadow, the fog, the till, the butterfly, the flower, the cow. I am constantly inspired by his poems to be out in my own fields and to contemplate and communicate my own place in them. A delicious collection about a deeply personal and lyrical view of farm life.

By Ross Thurber,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pioneer Species as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This collection of poems from Vermont farmer Ross Thurber is divided into four sections: "Green Popplewood," "Sunburnt Juniper," "Stag Horn Sumac," and "Snow Melt, Black Brook." Each section represents a seasonal form of succession that is both literal and abstract. Ultimately the poems in this manuscript have been winnowed to represent a narrative that echoes the idea that, like a lyric poem, stability is only a moment in time―one to be cherished.

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Interested in wine, Vermont, and the creative process?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about wine, Vermont, and the creative process.

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