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American Rhone

How Maverick Winemakers Changed the Way Americans Drink

Patrick J. Comiskey (Author)


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"Thoughtfully conceived and very well written, this is essential somm reading."—The Somm Journal 
"This is the most important wine book of the year, perhaps in many years."—The Seattle Times "Crisply written, impeccably researched, balanced if fundamentally enthusiastic, scholarly but accessible, and full of unexpected details and characters."—The World of Fine Wine No wine category has seen more dramatic growth in recent years than American Rhône–variety wines. Winemakers are devoting more energy, more acreage, and more bottlings to Rhône varieties than ever before. The flagship Rhône red, Syrah, is routinely touted as one of California’s most promising varieties, capable of tremendous adaptability as a vine, wonderfully variable in style, and highly expressive of place. There has never been a better time for American Rhône wine producers.
American Rhône is the untold history of the American Rhône wine movement. The popularity of these wines has been hard fought; this is a story of fringe players, unknown varieties, and longshot efforts finding their way to the mainstream. It’s the story of winemakers gathering sufficient strength in numbers to forge a triumph of the obscure and the brash. But, more than this, it is the story of the maturation of the American palate and a new republic of wine lovers whose restless tastes and curiosity led them to Rhône wines just as those wines were reaching a critical mass in the marketplace. Patrick J. Comiskey’s history of the American Rhône wine movement is both a compelling underdog success story and an essential reference for the wine professional.


1. The Sixties, Headwaters of the American Rhône
2. A Place and Its Progeny: A Guide to the Varieties of the Rhône Valley
3. How Rhône Varieties Got to American Soil
4. The Curious Case of American Petite Sirah
5. Rhône Varieties through Prohibition and After


6. The Path to the First American Rhône
7. Syrah’s Proud Father: Gary Eberle and the Making of Modern Syrah
8. Other Pioneers: From the North Coast to Gold Country


9. Randall Grahm, the Movement’s Cosmic Impresario
10. Steve Edmunds, the Quiet Iconoclast
11. Sean Thackrey, the Thinking Man’s Rhônist
12. Manfred Krankl, the First Superstar


13. Viognier, the Rhône Movement’s Flower Child
14. The Purloined Rhône: How Suitcase Clones Shaped the Movement
15. Tablas Creek, the Validator
16. The American Rhône in Washington State


17. The Birth of the Rhône Rangers, 1987–1990
18. The Academic Backup for the American Rhône Movement
19. The Bridge from California to France: The Colloquium to Bring the Rhônes Together
20. Hospice du Rhône: A Festival to Bring the Rhône World Home


21. The Rise and Fall of American Syrah
22. What We Talk About When We Talk about American Syrah

Figures gathered after page 138.
Patrick J. Comiskey is a wine writer and critic for Wine & Spirits magazine. He has written about wine for many publications, including the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Food & Wine, Decanter, and Lucky Peach.
"Thoughtfully conceived and very well written, this is essential somm reading."—The Somm Journal
"Comiskey has a skeptical reporter’s mind, a poet’s way with turns of phrase, an editor’s sense of conservation of words, and a keen (and deep) understanding of – and respect for – wine as a subject matter, all of which come to bear in American Rhone."—Joe Roberts 1 Wine Dude
"This book is superb."—California Grapevine
"Our five favorite liquor and wine books from 2016: A deep dive into this fascinating category, long beloved by wine geeks."—San Francisco Chronicle
"Delves into the American Rhone movement’s wine-soaked origins in this vivid, in-depth account."—The Mercury News
"This is the most important wine book of the year, perhaps in many years."—The Seattle Times
"The essential book documenting the Rhone movement in America and it is one that should be widely read. For it is very good, entertaining writing in its best sections, and the story of the winemakers is a compelling one that will hold you in its thrall."—Organic Wines Uncorked
"A strong contender for wine book of the year."—Henry Jefffreys The Guardian
"The definitive work on the Rhone movement."—Wine Review Online
"Crisply written, impeccably researched, balanced if fundamentally enthusiastic, scholarly but accessible, and full of unexpected details and characters."—The World of Fine Wine
"The wine book of the year."—Dennis Schaefer Santa Barbara News-Press
"Comiskey really knows his stuff — deep research is apparent here — and he writes with a fluid style, so learning about American Rhône is a real pleasure. . . . A terrific book, well-written and informative. It deserves a place on your wine bookshelf."—The Wine Economist
"This book is a keeper. You’ll enjoy reading it cover to cover and it will be a great reference guide as well. Fortunately for the reader, one does not have to a have a prior background in American Rhones. All the information is right here. It would make a great holiday gift for the wine lover in your life. Or just buy it for yourself for your own American Rhone journey."—Eve's Wine 101
“Patrick Comiskey’s groundbreaking tale of the American Rhône wine movement is as irresistible and stylish as the best examples of the wines themselves. His book is a fascinating narrative of little-known history, wickedly accurate profiles, and imaginative analysis that should be read by anyone interested in where American wine has been—and where it’s going.”—Elin McCoy, wine columnist, Bloomberg News, and author of The Emperor of Wine: The Rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr., and the Reign of American Taste

“What is most interesting about this book, above and beyond the minute level of fly-on-the-wall detail, is Comiskey’s exploration of the larger cultural context from which the phenomenon of ‘American Rhônes’ emerged. I was particularly struck by his great scholarship in uncovering the historical antecedents of this vinous movement—he continually reminds us that (American) Rhône wasn't built in a day.”—Randall Grahm, author of Been Doon So Long

“Finally, a book telling the lesser-known side of the story of American wine. Comiskey has woven a compelling, impeccably researched tale of the band of misfits and renegades who saw an alternate path for California and elsewhere—and the special relationship they built with their counterparts in the Old World. Essential reading for Rhône lovers!”—Jon Bonné, author of The New California Wine


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