In Search of Bacchus – Part 1


George M. Taber is author of the “Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the historic 1976 Paris Tasting,” a book chronicling the famous tasting where American wines bested the French in a blind competition. George has also authored “To Cork or Not to Cork: Tradition, Romance, Science, and the Battle for the Wine Bottle,” a book dealing with the most controversial topic among wine producers the world over: how to seal a bottle of wine. Without taking a position himself, George also relates in detail the histories of various closures and the pluses and minuses of each type. The highly acclaimed book won the Jane Grigson Award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals and was a finalist for the best wine book of the year of 2007 by both the James Beard Awards in the U.S. and the André Simon Awards in Britain.

George was a journalist specializing in financial news for 40 years before publishing his first book. He worked for 21 years for Time magazine, where he was national economic correspondent in Washington, D.C. and then business editor. He has been writing about wine since 2005.

Join us as we sit down to talk with George about his newest book “In Search of Bacchus: Wanderings in the Wonderful World of Wine Tourism.” He visited twelve of the world’s leading regions for wine travel and recounts the stories of their history and the people developing tourism there. The regions: Napa Valley, California; Stellenbosch, South Africa; Mendoza, Argentina; Colchagua, Chile; Margaret River, Australia; Central Otago, New Zealand; Rioja, Spain; Douro Valley, Portugal; Tuscany, Italy; Bordeaux, France; Rhine/Mosel, Germany; and Kakheti, Georgia.

Sponsor: Karafe, Wine Board Game:

Click Below to Play the Show:

Part 1

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Show #251 A
(41:13 min 29MB)

7 Responses to “In Search of Bacchus – Part 1”

  1. 1 Jason A Nov 4th, 2009 at 7:01 am

    Great show guys. I so grateful and impressed that you gave George the time to discuss the book and his work in such depth.

    My wife and I are of the same mindset as George (and probably most of your followers) in that we focus our vacation plans on the wine first and the attractions second. And by coincidence our most recent vacation was in Tuscany and I concur with all of George’s fawning and accolades for this part of the world.

    This show was quite the contrast to the closing of the previous show, specifically the interview with Kimberly Pfender. She seemed the poster child for everything George had to say about Napa. I could almost say that you that you guys could be accused of creative editing or maybe it was pure serendipity.

    Looking forward to your shows on the Jura. This area produces some of my most favorite wines and will be a vacation destination in the future.


  2. 2 GrapeRadio Bunch Nov 4th, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Jason, I’m glad you enjoyed the show with George as much as we did. I too thought his feelings about the current state of Napa Valley were interesting to hear, and would agree that things have obviously changed/evolved from “the old days.”

    That said, I would disagree with your perception that the closing of the Napa Road show somehow mirrored George’s remarks. This seems like a rather harsh conclusion to me, though you’re certainly entitled to your opinion/perception of the show.


  3. 3 GrapeRadio Bunch Nov 4th, 2009 at 12:03 pm


    I wish we were as creative as you suggested, but alas, it is not so. The two shows are not “connected”.

    Jason, could you elaborate on your point about Kimberly seeming like the poster child for everything George said about Napa? I am guessing that you are referring to her coming from the outside? If so, I understand your perspective but think you missed an important distinction. I think George was talking about faux wine people. By that I mean people that come to Napa and start making wine as a social status statement. They are more interested in the image of winemaker than is actually making it. Kimberly cleary is not a member of that group.


  4. 4 Jason A Nov 4th, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    Whooa, did I touch a nerve. Sorry guys, but if you put yourself in my shoes, that is someone who knows nothing about Phender wines except from what I have learned from your show, you might get a different impression. Ms. Phender did not leave the impression as someone who gets their hands dirty in the vineyard, but rather someone who views the vines from the comfort of her car, her words, not mine. Ms. Phender was happy to differ question about her wines to her winemaker as terms such as sur lie aging, malolactic fermentation were if not new, unfamiliar to her, again, her words.

    I cannot agree with you Eric that wine geeks want to meet the proprietor and not the winemaker. People who ask all those “technical” questions, want to know more about the wine, not necessarily who’s name is on the masthead. The most interesting winemakers I have spoken with are those more defined as winegrowers or vingerons. The ones with dirt under their fingernails.

    Kimberly and Phender wines may be all of those things I am looking for, but your interview painted quite a different picture, and yes that just may only be my opinion/perception of the show.


  5. 5 GrapeRadio Bunch Nov 4th, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    No nerve touched from my perspective. Really!

    Personally, I am more like Jason in that to meet winemaker is preferable over the owner (sometimes it’s the same person). Actually, I would rather meet the vineyard manager over the winemaker. 🙂

    Jason, where we may disagree is on the definition of the faux wine family. I can understand Kimberly deferring the technical questions to the person closest and most knowledgeable about the subject. In all honesty, I do not know Kimberly so she may be exactly as you suggest. However, my impression was that she did have a genuine love of wine which would distinguish her from those that are more passionate in the green of money than the green of the vineyard.


    BTW, I like the way you think Jason.

  6. 6 Mike Holland Nov 5th, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    The discussion of “Bottle Shock” was interesting. While I take serious issue with those details that are carelessly overlooked, the creators of “Bottle Shock” got the spirit and passion of winemaking right. Whether the community sense was truly “what’s good for one of us is good for all of us”, the depiction of the area at that time seemed organic to the story they were telling. STORY as opposed to a depiction of facts.
    As a historian, I would suggest that people read the book for the facts. If and when a substantive documentary is produced, that will be another layer of facts but only from the viewpoint of the film makers because of whoever is willing to walk, etc.
    But if the overall effect of the movie encourages people to drink more wine and help them to see the craft, art and passion that goes into winemaking, “Bottle Shock” will have done its intended work. George’s book is wonderful and I hope sales continue to be brisk.
    Thanks for another great show.

  7. 7 DAVID Dec 20th, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    I know this book will be under the tree on the 25th and I’m looking forward to reading it! Great interview….

Leave a Reply

Recent Posts

Monthly Archives



GrapeRadio is a wine talk show. Show topics cover issues such as the enjoyment of wine, wine news and industry trends - the hallmark of the show is interviews with world class guest (winemakers, vineyards owners, wine retail / wholesale leaders, restaurateurs and sommeliers). The scope of the show is international so expect to hear many guests from around the world.

GrapeRadio has received numerous awards and honors including the 2008 James Beard Award for excellence in Journalism.

GrapeRadio has been the subject of numerous news reports by: The New York Times, Business Week, CNN, The Financial Times of London, and Wired Magazine.