It is summer! And if you are not away on holiday, it is time to pick up a book that will take you somewhere wonderful. May I suggest France?
Being French, you may guess why I picked this book up in the first place; I like reading about people who have made my home their home. Stephen Clarke is another one, but he was forced to move to Paris for his job.
Ray Walker came for – or rather through – his love of wine. Yes, it is all about the wine!
This is also a lovely read for the summer, when you may have more time to follow your own dreams – who knows where they will take you. For Ray, they took him to Burgundy, where he became the first non-French wine-maker of his region, Le Chambertin.
His memoir The Road to Burgundy takes us back to his life in California with his wife Christian, his young daughter, and his job in finance. It wasn’t a bad life, but there was nothing to it. There were no dreams of a winery either, until at a wine tasting, he was given Burgundy to try. (If you haven’t tried it, you need to. I am not saying everyone turns into a connoisseur after they drink their first glass of Burgundy, but it is nevertheless wonderful.) Those few glasses of Burgundy changed how he thought and felt about wine and his obsession with the French region was born.
The truth is most of us can’t just up and leave. We have ties, we have family, we don’t have the funds. And neither does Ray. If it wasn’t a memoir, I would say it is impossible it all fell into place. It didn’t just fall into place; there were difficulties, as you would expect there to be when someone with no knowledge of France, still living in California, no house or winery, and a knowledge of wine making limited to a few 19th century books tries to create high quality French wine (and grand cru from Le Chambertin is about at high quality as it gets).
“I wouldn’t dare call any of this fate. I worked too damn hard for that. But what I do believe is that where there’s a dream, there’s a way to make it a reality. And if you’re brave enough to dream it, everything you need is already inside of you.”
The lesson we learn is one we all already know deep down: Where there is a will, there is a way. And if you are determined, then all those stones thrown in your way won’t get you off track.
It is no secret that Ray Walker made it, and is now living in France with his family, creating wine. This isn’t a dramatic recollection, but it is a tale full of enthusiasm for Burgundy – the wine, the region, and its people – and an assortment of little anecdotes about French life and wine making.
The Road to Burgundy, by Ray Walker*
First published July 2013
*best enjoyed with a glass of wine at hand