Book Review: The Winemaker by Noah Gordon

The Winemaker by Noah Gordon

In the 1980s, I read The Physician and Shaman by this author. Especially the first book I re-read several times and absolutely loved it. Seeing this new book at Netgalley I was very keen to read it.

I finished it yesterday and it’s as good as I had hoped. The only issue with it: it ends.

The Winemaker: What it is about

Description from the publishers: “Josep Alvarez is a young man in the tiny grape-growing village of Santa Eulália, in northern Spain, where his father grows black grapes that are turned into cheap vinegar. Joseph loves the agricultural life, but he is the second son, and his father’s vineyard will be inherited by his brother Donat, the firstborn. Josep needs to keep his hands in the soil. He yearns for a job growing grapes and for an opportunity to marry Teresa Gallego.

In Madrid, an assassination plot, conceived against the political leader of Spain by men of wealth and power, creates a storm of intrigue that sucks into its vortex a group of innocent young farm workers in Santa Eulália. How Josep’s life is changed drastically by these events, and how, ironically, they gradually turn him into an inspired vintner with an evolving vision of life, is the fascinating story of The Winemaker.”

The Winemaker: What I thought

I loved this book! It was such a pleasure to read. Josep is a hardworking, honest man who you only want the best for. Of course, he has his flaws, his moments of bad judgment, but generally, he is a wonderful salt-of-the-earth kind of man. While the story has some more exciting moments, most of the tension resides in the general flow of the story: as a reader, I wanted things to go well for Josep. When they didn’t, I worried. When they did, I was happy.

The description mentions a political angle to the story which I was a little worried about, as I don’t like political intrigues. Luckily, this was only a very small part of the book and served merely to give Josep a history that may come to find him later on in the story.

The story has this friendly, amiable feel similar to that in The Physician (which is one of those books that is eternally in my re-read loop). It reminded me to quite a large extend, in terms of general feel, of The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani. That book starts off in Italy rather than Spain and takes place a little later (1910s rather than 1870s). Also, in Trigiani’s book, the story moves to the big city, New York, and later small town America, while The Winemaker takes place mainly in Northern Spain, in a small village.

Even so, these are books about genuine, hardworking people, that struggle through adversity but that deserve a better life than they have. That makes them very satisfactory stories.

The Winemaker follows Josep through a few years of his life, trying to make a living as a vineyard owner. Starting off on his own on his family’s vineyard with a debt to his brother, he gains more and more friends and business connections to help him fulfill his dream of successfully running the vineyard. No need to have a special interest in wines or vineyard to appreciate this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I got this book: from Open Road Media via Netgalley

Number of pages: 296 (ebook)

First published: 2012 (June 5th: ebook, September 2012: printed edition)

Genre: historical fiction


About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

12 Responses to Book Review: The Winemaker by Noah Gordon

  1. Wow, I didn’t even KNOW this book existed, and now I cannot WAIT to read it – all thanks to your review! I really want to read “The Physician” by the same author too. Again, thank you for your insightful review…this book seems like an immensely intriguing read.

  2. parrish lantern says:

    Wished I’d had the time to have read this, as it sounded interesting.

  3. Nadine Nys says:

    Another author to put on my wishlist… Thanks Judith 🙂

  4. Lyla Ibrahim says:

    It’s a good, pleasant read. I really enjoy this.

  5. Mel Mansur says:

    Thank you for the review! I am a 30 year old brazilian, married woman who is absolutely passionate about Gordon’s books. I’ve read everything he wrote except for “The Rabbi”, “The Jerusalem Diamond” and “The Winemaker”. After reading this review, I will definitely give a chance to the last one! Thank you!!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Thanks for your comment, Mel. I think if you liked the other books by Gordon, you will definitely like this one too. I realise I have some books to catch up with. I’m from the Netherlands, nice to be “talking” to you from half-way across the world!

  6. Laura says:

    I too love the Physician and the other 2 books in the triolgy – The Shaman and Matters of Choice (you don’t mention this, have you read it?).

    Since I can’t find my paperback copies I have now purchased all 3 for my Kindle on my smartphone (Galaxy S3) and am about to press the buttons required to get the kindle edition of The Winemaker. I am not sure about electronic books as I love the smell and feel of “real” ones, which is why I’m starting my electronic collection with a book I know and love.

    As far as I’m concerned anything my Noah Gordon is a “must read”. Thanks for your review.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Laura, I didn’t know about the 3rd book in the series, but I loved the other two. I think you’ll love The Winemaker too, and I hope you did press that button. 🙂

      I also much prefer paper books!

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