Caro Feely and her husband have a vineyard in France, and if that sounds romantic, it's because it is. It's also a life of bone-weary hard work, constant attention, worry, stress, financial difficulty, and self-doubt. Like a farmer, you are at the mercy of the weather. a bad storm at the wrong time can destroy your grapes, or even the vines. Too much water, too little water, fungus, insects, or any number of small things could make or break your year. Making wine takes nonstop care for the grapes and a certain amount of business savvy to succeed.
In other words, it's not an easy life, by any means.
In her memoir Glass Half Full, she documents the life of a winemaker, from the vines to the grapes, from the harvest to the bottle, from the bottle to store or restaurant shelves, and everything in between. They struggle to grow organic and strive toward biodynamic (a more economically sound way of farming), which creates more challenges. And the stress and constant needs of the business create strain on her marriage and on her children. Striving for balance, in the wines, in the office, and in the bedroom is an obstacle it will take all Feely's wisdom and strength to discover.
This lovely memoir is an honest look at the difficult life of a winemaker, businesswoman, wife, and mother. And she writes beautifully about France, from her own vineyard, to the vineyards and farms they visit for new ideas, to the villages, and even to the truffle hunting. The charm of the country shines through and transports readers to the other side of the world.
Although she can get a little preachy at times about organic and biodynamic farming, it's clear that it grows out of her passion for caring for the land. It's noble, and easy to excuse under the circumstances.
I've been a big fan of reading about France for many years now, and I would recommend Caro Feely's Glass Half Full alongside Peter Mayle's memoirs of Provence life or for fans of Bianca Bosker's Cork Dork, to see the other side of the wine business. Just open your favorite wine, pour yourself a glass, and find yourself transported to a European adventure.
Galleys for Glass Half Full were provided by Trafalgar Square Publishing through NetGalley.com, with many thanks.