Grapegrowers, viticulturists and wine fanatics might want to make space in their reference library. Wine Grape Varieties in California, a 188-page volume published in July by the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, provides a comprehensive guide to more than three dozen varieties grown in the state.
The book includes extensive information about recommended growing practices and technical issues, such as rootstock and clonal selection, trellising methods and disease susceptibility. But even wine-loving amateurs who don't know the difference between a Lyre trellis and a California Sprawl, will appreciate the color photos, which are the real stars of the show.
"We laugh about them because they're really centerfolds for viticulturists, so gorgeous and lush," said Ann Senuta, publications manager at ANR Communications Services.
The book does seem a bit like grape porn, with beautifully detailed, full-page spreads of 37 grape varieties caught at peak ripeness. There are also close-up shots of leaves and shoot tips. Photographer Jack Kelly Clark honed his methods over the last decade; grape clusters are difficult to shoot in full sunlight, so Clark developed a technique using reflected light.
Jim Wolpert, chairman of the department of viticulture and enology at UC, Davis, and one of the four technical editors of the book, thinks the volume will appeal to both industry professionals and impassioned amateurs. "A lot of people have tasted a lot of wines but have never seen the grapes on the vine," he said. "We believe this book has taken that to a new level."
Wine Grape Varieties in California costs $30 and can be ordered by phone at (800) 994-8849 or online at www.anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu.