Ray Walker had a secure career in finance until a wine-tasting vacation ignited a passion that he couldn't stifle. Ray neglected his work, spending hours poring over ancient French winemaking texts, learning the techniques and the language, and daydreaming about vineyards. After Ray experienced his first taste of wine from Burgundy, he could wait no longer. He quit his job and went to France to start a winery - with little money, a limited command of French, and virtually no winemaking experience.
Fueled by determination and joie de vivre, he immersed himself in the extraordinary history of Burgundy's vineyards and began honing his skills. Ray became a pioneer in his use of ancient techniques in modern times and founded Maison Ilan. In 2009, Ray became the first non-French winemaker to purchase grapes and produce a wine from Le Chambertin, long considered to be one of the most revered and singular vineyards in the world.
Along with his struggle to capture his wine's distinct terroir, Ray shares enthralling stories of late-night tastings, flying down the Route National on a vintage Peugeot bicycle with no brakes, and his journey to secure both the trust of his insular Burgundian neighbors and the region's most coveted grapes. Capturing the sunlight, the smell of the damp soil, and the taste of superlative wine, The Road to Burgundy is a glorious celebration of finding one's true path in life, and taking a chance - whatever the odds.
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Inspiring story: I wish he'd learn some humility!
Fun book needs narrator who can pronounce french
My husband definitely would. He loved it. It's pure escapism and at the same time, it is a (mostly) true story. I found it far-fetched and a little bit contrived, but it is (mostly) a true story, and the narration just detracted from the overall experience.
To me, it was Ray Walker's return to Northern California after having spent months in Burgundy - and his comments on how life in France and French culture is different - what's important, the focus on freshness of meats and produce, how 'terroir' weaves into the fabric of french life in ways that just don't happen in the US.
The narrator did not add to the story at all - left a lot to be desired, and at times seemed snarky to me. He kept mispronouncing words like 'Beaune' (he pronounced it as 'Boone' as opposed to the correct pronunciation, phonetically 'Bone') a fairly important city in Burgundy. Initially I thought this oversight (there were others) was part of the charm of the story (San Fran native moves family to Burgundy to make wine, knows no french much less how to make wine), but this wasn't the case. How could one love Burgundy and then consistently mispronounce that great city's name or the Côte d'Or? Cringeworthy, but obviously I got over it.
One of the lessons of this story, I believe, is the underlying 'make it happen against all odds' David v. Goliath message. Walker understood his passion, never knew quite were it would take him, yet persevered through the stress, naysayers and uncertainty to arrive at a place in his life he never could have imagined. And he tells you at the end, it is worth imagining, believing and pursuing doggedly -- making happen what one may only dream about.