A New York Times Bestseller is About Wine — Who Knew?
Seems to me that the vast majority of wine books that are published purport to introduce novices or “beginners” to wine. And that’s fine. That’s probably what’s needed and what sells. But occasionally you get some really interesting non-reference wine books that sell gangbusters. “The Billionaire’s Vinegar” and “War & Wine” both come to mind.
What doesn’t often sell all that well and what doesn’t usually become a bestseller are those books that chronicle individual wineries. They might be interesting, but they don’t usually find much distribution outside the winery about which they report and local bookshops.
So, honestly, I was shocked to learn that “A Perfect Score:
The Art, Soul, and Business of a 21st-Century Winery” now resides on the New York Times Non-Fiction Hardback Bestsellers list. In fact, it opened in the #11 spot on the prestigious list (also, a 4.5 stars Amazon rating and the #13,888th best-selling book at Amazon).
The book chronicles the experience that Kathryn and Craig Hall of Hall Wines in Napa Valley as they made their journey toward a 100 point score from Robert Parker, Jr. Again, it’s a subject I would think would be of great interest to the geekiest of wine geeks, but not enough so to put in on the New York Times Bestsellers list where it ranks higher than Paul Kalanithi’s “When Breath Becomes Air”, a remarkable memoir about his cancer diagnosis or Tim Rinaldi’s “The Red Bandana” that tells the story of heroism at the World Trade Center on 9/11 or Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton: The Revolution”. Yet there it is at #11 above these and other works.
It’s hard to know what this says about American’s appetite for the wine business memoir genre. It’s entirely possible there has been a gross underestimation among publishers and wine writers as to the desire to read about how a winery is constructed, how wines are marketed, the romance of living in Napa Valley and the feeling one gets when the likes of Robert Parker bestows a perfect score upon your wine. These kind of remarkable sales are certainly a sign of something brewing. I’m just not sure what.
I’ve not yet gotten around to reading “A Perfect Score” yet. But I will since I’m among the geekiest of geeks, the story takes place in my back yard, and I want to know what seemingly everyone else in the country is reading.
A Perfect Score: The Art, Soul and Business of a 21st Century Winery
By Kathryn & Craig Hill
Center Street Publishing, 2016