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A Vineyard in Tuscany: A Wine Lover's Dream

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Finding your dream house with a vineyard in Tuscany is like searching the woods for porcini mushrooms: a labor of love. Such feats require patience, discernment, resolve, and an indestructible sense of humor. The Mátés’ future home and wine estate lies amid breathtaking scenery in a community brimming with warmth. In Italy’s most prestigious wine zone, Montalcino, they rest Finding your dream house with a vineyard in Tuscany is like searching the woods for porcini mushrooms: a labor of love. Such feats require patience, discernment, resolve, and an indestructible sense of humor. The Mátés’ future home and wine estate lies amid breathtaking scenery in a community brimming with warmth. In Italy’s most prestigious wine zone, Montalcino, they restore a thirteenth-century friary nestled on two hills within sixty acres of forest, olives, and potential vineyards. Here they plant fifteen acres of vines, build the winery, and learn from their famous vintner neighbors, like Angelo Gaja, the secrets of how to grow the best grapes and make superb wines. Within the first years, the Máté wines receive international acclaim. This highly entertaining tale of how two dreamers struggle and thrive in idyllic Tuscany will enrich the lives of travelers and wine lovers alike.


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Finding your dream house with a vineyard in Tuscany is like searching the woods for porcini mushrooms: a labor of love. Such feats require patience, discernment, resolve, and an indestructible sense of humor. The Mátés’ future home and wine estate lies amid breathtaking scenery in a community brimming with warmth. In Italy’s most prestigious wine zone, Montalcino, they rest Finding your dream house with a vineyard in Tuscany is like searching the woods for porcini mushrooms: a labor of love. Such feats require patience, discernment, resolve, and an indestructible sense of humor. The Mátés’ future home and wine estate lies amid breathtaking scenery in a community brimming with warmth. In Italy’s most prestigious wine zone, Montalcino, they restore a thirteenth-century friary nestled on two hills within sixty acres of forest, olives, and potential vineyards. Here they plant fifteen acres of vines, build the winery, and learn from their famous vintner neighbors, like Angelo Gaja, the secrets of how to grow the best grapes and make superb wines. Within the first years, the Máté wines receive international acclaim. This highly entertaining tale of how two dreamers struggle and thrive in idyllic Tuscany will enrich the lives of travelers and wine lovers alike.

30 review for A Vineyard in Tuscany: A Wine Lover's Dream

  1. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    A guy's version of *Under the Tuscan Sun* -- It made me hungry and thirsty, and I loved the insights into planting a vineyard and rebuilding a centuries-old house. Witty and intelligently written. (Then the author bio says he left Tuscany to sail the South Pacific -- If I'd worked that hard on my home, you'd have to tear me away with a pliers!)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Annmarie

    This was a mildly entertaining account of how the Hungarian/Canadian author, who is a writer by profession, found and bought a crumbling ancient friary building in Tuscany, rebuilt it into a family home, and planted a vineyard with four different kinds of wine grapes. Pleasantly descriptive & humorous & evocative of living in Tuscany, yet it kind of lacked a soulful touch. I was conflicted about this book. On the one hand, I was interested in the details, such as the hunt for the perfect property This was a mildly entertaining account of how the Hungarian/Canadian author, who is a writer by profession, found and bought a crumbling ancient friary building in Tuscany, rebuilt it into a family home, and planted a vineyard with four different kinds of wine grapes. Pleasantly descriptive & humorous & evocative of living in Tuscany, yet it kind of lacked a soulful touch. I was conflicted about this book. On the one hand, I was interested in the details, such as the hunt for the perfect property through the hills and dales of rustic Tuscany, the find of the ruins of an Etruscan city in his 70 acre hilly woods, the pros and cons of the various grapes for the various growing conditions of his patchwork quilt of a 15-ish acre vineyard in the property, his whacky misadventures with construction equipment (though he's clearly very handy), the insane bureaucratic process of getting approval to have a vineyard and getting farm tax abatements, etc. Doesn't that sound like good armchair traveling? On the other hand, I was annoyed by some things. His wife, a central character in the book, was depicted oddly shallowly which is too bad because she seemed like an interesting person, an artist and former competitive plane glider. And the author seemed to be conflicted himself about what to reveal with regards to the finances of doing what he did - he says he might not have enough money to buy & totally rebuild the friary, mentions specifics about the price of certain acreage from an unethical businessman neighbor who offers wildly varying prices, but draws a total veil over how he actually manages to afford to spend 18 months with loads of contractors rebuilding the place, then buy thousands of grape vines, vineyard machinery, custom made vats for the wine, spend 2 years in Rome while his wife goes to wine school & kid is in private school, etc etc. The book's a romp through the shallow bits of the house/vineyard purchase & creation process rather than a memoir with the kind of in-depth explorations I'd have preferred.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jonquill

    Very enjoyable recounting of the immense sacrifice and hard work of the author and his family in order to create their dream vineyard. Planting 42,000 vines by hand is an example. His book serves two purposes--1) as a marketing piece for the award winning wines created by the Mate Vineyard and 2) as a love letter to Montalcino and Tuscany.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    Funny, informative romp in the vineyards of Tuscany by a well-heeled author who, with his wife, pursued his passion: locating, renovating and planning for the planting 15 acres of grapes on a Tuscan ruin. I enjoyed reading about his adventures and was pea green with envy when he discovered the ruins of an Etruscan village!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Karen Floyd

    I enjoyed this book tremendously. It appealed to me on so many levels - from the home in Italy, with Italian friends, to the nitty=gritty of how to plant a vineyard on just the right soil to produce a great wine. Good wine surpasses any description. Mate is funny, self-deprecating and descriptive. Make no mistake, transforming a long-abandoned Italian monastery into a livable home and a great vineyard is very hard work, which Mate makes light of. Readers gripe about the money the people who writ I enjoyed this book tremendously. It appealed to me on so many levels - from the home in Italy, with Italian friends, to the nitty=gritty of how to plant a vineyard on just the right soil to produce a great wine. Good wine surpasses any description. Mate is funny, self-deprecating and descriptive. Make no mistake, transforming a long-abandoned Italian monastery into a livable home and a great vineyard is very hard work, which Mate makes light of. Readers gripe about the money the people who write memoirs of their Italian and French homes must have (Mayes, Mayle), which is ridiculous. Bitter envy? I am very grateful to be able to experience these places vicariously, through their trained writers' eyes, and descriptive pens, places which I will, probably, never be able to experience myself. That's what books are for. Not just to entertain us but to expand our horizons. No one complains about novelists who set their books in exotic and improbable places. Double standard? I digress. I would love to hear the story from Mate's wife's point of view. Candace, who is an artist, flies gliders, and turns out to be the Great Nose and Sommelier, who makes the Mate vineyard and vintages what they are. I want to hear more about Candace, to misquote Frodo. I also want to hear more about the Etruscan village they discovered. I must confess that my inner history major and inner wanna-be archaeologist cringed each time they went digging around in the dirt and brought artifacts home.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kari Macknight Dearborn

    It's a joy to read a book written not only by someone who is obviously so in love with the subject matter but who can also tell a great story. I was immediately taken on the journey of building a house and winery in the hills of Brunello and I can't wait to taste the wines for myself someday. If even in a dark corner of your mind you've longed for that pastoral life among the vines, this book will both shock you into the harsh reality and have you wistfully aching for that life for yourself.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alyce

    Mate, an affluent braggart camouflaging as a self-effacing working stiff who just happened to buy an estate next to Banfi, reminded me of one of our college mantras; "Don't be humble, you're not that great". The dialogue is strained, every punch line involves the family’s incomparable brilliance, and the laughs are too few to justify this ode to self-aggrandizement. Mate is no Peter Mayle.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Armelle

    An entertaining, but not very in-depth tale of the creation of a vineyard in, well, Tuscany, obviously. Several years pass in this short book - it’s, in many ways, more a collection of scenes from those years, rather than a comprehensive narrative. The tone is light and engaging. I enjoyed it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Janee

    Myamm...this book is like a mini holiday...mini, because it takes about two hours to read - holiday, because it makes you sit back, sip a glass of something you enjoy and dream of the day when your dreams will, inevitably, come true. Maté's tales of tuscany made me feel the sunshine in my face and brought the smell of lavender and dry grass, dust and warm rocks right into my living room...and sometimes that is all you need. Yes, he leads a life different to that of many of us. And why not? I don' Myamm...this book is like a mini holiday...mini, because it takes about two hours to read - holiday, because it makes you sit back, sip a glass of something you enjoy and dream of the day when your dreams will, inevitably, come true. Maté's tales of tuscany made me feel the sunshine in my face and brought the smell of lavender and dry grass, dust and warm rocks right into my living room...and sometimes that is all you need. Yes, he leads a life different to that of many of us. And why not? I don't mind his wealth and the way he talks about himself. On the contrary. He sounds throughly happy and content with his life, his career and the choices he makes - wow! How much more happiness can one have in life than to be absolutely satisfied with who they are, completely without fear of failure and always ready for a new adventure?! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and will keep it handy for the times when the rain beats against the window and the world feels dark and dreary. This book will make it alright again.

  10. 5 out of 5

    David Lumpkin

    After weeks of delay, knowing if I start this book it will end, I finally picked it up and began. I sipped the words slowly extracting flavors of excitement, frustration, diligence and joy and enjoyed every drop. I recommend it highly and that it should be read after reading "The Hills of Tuscany". The author's earlier book sets up the romance for the second. This author has captured everything I love about reading. It is interesting, entertaining and moves the heart. It covers everything from th After weeks of delay, knowing if I start this book it will end, I finally picked it up and began. I sipped the words slowly extracting flavors of excitement, frustration, diligence and joy and enjoyed every drop. I recommend it highly and that it should be read after reading "The Hills of Tuscany". The author's earlier book sets up the romance for the second. This author has captured everything I love about reading. It is interesting, entertaining and moves the heart. It covers everything from the first shovel of dirt to picking a single grape and measuring its sweetness each day until the moment comes that the vineyard must be harvested. Rebuilding of the ancient ruin into a home was amusing and enjoyable. You will be transfixed with interest, you'll laugh quite often and you will likely discover a tear of happiness now and then. Allow yourself to be pulled into Máté's picture of a wonderful life.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Pam McGinty

    If you are wondering what purchasing an old villa in Tuscany to refurbish as your new home, Mr. Mate's descriptions of the process were both informative and described vividly. Oh, and, if you want to learn how grapes are made into wine, from the clearing of overgrown land, planting, harvesting and winemaking, you will like this book. I felt as if I was there beside the familigia while reading this book. Mr. Mate's vineyard is now producing wonderful wines from Tuscany $39 to $695 per bottle. I m If you are wondering what purchasing an old villa in Tuscany to refurbish as your new home, Mr. Mate's descriptions of the process were both informative and described vividly. Oh, and, if you want to learn how grapes are made into wine, from the clearing of overgrown land, planting, harvesting and winemaking, you will like this book. I felt as if I was there beside the familigia while reading this book. Mr. Mate's vineyard is now producing wonderful wines from Tuscany $39 to $695 per bottle. I may have to see about getting some of his Merlot!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Alana

    This was a great book. The only problem was I didn't have a nice bottle of red wine when I started reading it. Tuscany here I come...but my husband said no to the vineyard. I enjoyed this so much, and I only chose it because of my reading challenge to pick a book with food on the cover. I laughed so much. I even recommended this to my husband to read because it was filled with so many things he enjoys. I highly recommend this...but grab some wine first!!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Susan Powers

    I lived this man’s story, right along beside him. I felt the blisters on my hands, tasted the grappa ( it’s terrible, by the way) and smelled the fermenting wine in the oak barrels. I almost learned too, to curse la Madonna. If you’re remotely passionate about wine, Italy or romantic notions of living abroad , this memoir will hook you.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Chris Yaldezian

    This is a book for wine lovers. It is about the dream of owning a Tuscan countryside vineyard,and making a world class wine. It uses the location as a character, because as plot,the location could have been in California. The author does a good job of letting the reader share and experience the dream.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Anna Fenoglio Tift

    I picked up this book from my pretty book pile because I went to Italy in September years ago and wanted to relive the early fall countryside a bit. Mission accomplished. It made moving to the Tuscan countryside seem idyllic and funny and always cooperative so if you need a brief, light Tuscan escape, this is your book. Excuse me now while I go pack.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sommer

    I liked this book, it was funny and interesting. If I ever make it to Tuscany I would love to try to see this winery/house. And of course now I am on the hunt to find the wine in my area and try it. Good book for wine lovers!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

    The story of renovating a house and establishing a vineyard in Tuscany. It is written in a humorous, entertaining style . Reading this book made me want to pack my bags and go to Tuscany soon( as soon as the heat wave is over)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Danny

    Wonderful stories make up this book, but it jumps around too much and some of the tales seemed unfinished to me. A cast of characters would have helped keep everything straight. Still a good read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gretchen Lindquist

    This is a perfect book to get into the right frame of mind for a trip to Tuscany. Very enjoyable.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    I learned so much about vines...and smiled and laughed throughout: some notes and favorite lines:

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kate Martin

    Reading this book makes me want to abandon my computer and go dig in the forest, especially in Italy. Great escapist reading for a crazy busy night in suburbia.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    Italy, an old vineyard and home in Tuscany, good food, and wine, what’s not to love

  23. 5 out of 5

    Valeria

    Lovely book; Combines all my passions : Italy, food and wine, architecture and history.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Erika

    A vineyard in Tuscany You know one of those travelling and lifestyle books, where people of fortunate circumstances and through their course of life share their enthusiasm for the newest destinations and make you jealous of the ever-changing scenery? Yeah, this is not one of them. After finishing reading this book I feel like I’ve gained a friend in Máté. So deeply touched I was, and still am, for his adventures and the fulfillment of his life-long dreams. There were couple of moments when I was f A vineyard in Tuscany You know one of those travelling and lifestyle books, where people of fortunate circumstances and through their course of life share their enthusiasm for the newest destinations and make you jealous of the ever-changing scenery? Yeah, this is not one of them. After finishing reading this book I feel like I’ve gained a friend in Máté. So deeply touched I was, and still am, for his adventures and the fulfillment of his life-long dreams. There were couple of moments when I was forced to put down the book and look into distance or blink away the pushy tears forming in the corner of my eyes because of the overwhelming pride and happiness for the mister and his family. There are a bunch of those books you need a few chapters to blend in, get familiar, memorize all the scenarios and names, except “A vineyard in Tuscany”, which with detailed location description, along with the accurate definition of Tuscans’ soul, and the Roman, naturally, guide you gently but eventfully into a Hungarian-Canadian family life in Italy’s most prestigious wine regions. Máté, throughout the whole book, is so utterly lovable, sincere and authentic that you simply cannot help but just feel for him, comfort him in his sorrow, cheer in accomplishments and with the chapters passing by I could practically picture myself living next door to him or be within a distance of a phone call, as if we go way back. “I must have been the first in line when they handed out wide eyes,” he describes himself. I cannot agree more. But thanks to this virtue, that can sometimes occur as a curse also, the reader witnesses the most splendid adventures in the search of the house, dreams, supplies, people and getaways. What I especially enjoyed was the precise and somewhat emphasized characterization of the people Máté meets in the journey of completing his dreams. As the says this himself, the best part of the long adventure was not the wine but the precious memories of the people who had worked so hard, and therefore played a major role in helping the, at times, irregular and a person full of ever-changing illusions, to achieve his dreams. These described memories Máté transmits so creatively the readers can do no more than absorb the vibrant feelings and colors of not only the lovely people but the nature, as this book is an absolute thrill for nature-lovers. You will not be disappointed. But then again, what is there to disappoint you in the magical Italian landscape. And then, there’s the humor. When mentioned, some people automatically think of forced jokes to lighten the atmosphere of labor and hard work surrounding the content of the whole book. Immediately bad dad jokes come to one’s mind, as they cause the second-hand embarrassment in the reader as he politely sighs and tries his hardest to forget and advance with the plot. But nothing could be farther from the truth! I have the good and firm habit of reading in the public transportation, as it takes up to more than two hours a day to travel to and from work. I do not joke if I say that there were several occasions when I put the book on my lap as, at the same time, trying my hardest to force down the guttural laugh that threatened to burst out so loud they would hear it in the streets around the corner. And then there were the honest but modest smiles and grins, with teeth fully showing, as Máté caught me off guard with something exquisitely hilarious and witty. Perhaps it was the approaching summer in Estonia that warmed my soul and gave way to the Tuscan breeze from the Mediterranean that was reaching to me through this book, or maybe it were the light but flamboyant words of Ferenc, Fransisco, Máté, who so openly introduced me into his wonderful life, sharing the numerous memories and making me feel as if I took on the path alongside his lovable family to create more adventures with time. I have never related to an author so different in age, culture and upbringing that, as I currently write this review, I feel like e-mailing the author to ask a friendly advice for the choice of words, or to simply make fun of the desperate, but in conclusion, utterly enjoyable and manageable situations described in the book. Godspeed, Ferenc, Candance and Buster. Thank you.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Gregg

    A delicious read. ;) The author has a bit of an ego but that's easy to overlook and it actually ads to the story. Get some red wine and bread and enjoy. Also great for trip planning.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Gwen

    I'm at about the middle of this book. Good points: it really is funny. If a book is supposed to be humerous then I want some pretty good laughs. One story brought me to tears (the Italian test to receive an agricultural tax credit) so I think it qualifies on this point. Bad points: No photos or maps!! The book is about the renovation of an historic Italian estate for crying out loud. The descriptions are good and yes I can go haul out the atlas...but I'm not going to find every little town and vi I'm at about the middle of this book. Good points: it really is funny. If a book is supposed to be humerous then I want some pretty good laughs. One story brought me to tears (the Italian test to receive an agricultural tax credit) so I think it qualifies on this point. Bad points: No photos or maps!! The book is about the renovation of an historic Italian estate for crying out loud. The descriptions are good and yes I can go haul out the atlas...but I'm not going to find every little town and village without some work. That's the only reason it's getting 4 stars. All done. It was a very entertaining read. I demoted it to 4 stars for the lack of maps and photos (even found out that Ferenc is a photographer!) as I said above and I was also a bit annoyed by his overuse of constantly being on the verge of bankruptcy or the poor house as a comic device (he obviously had plenty of money to continue with after each disaster). But funny is funny and his stories got laughs from me...he also has many nice family tales which show sacrifice and working together.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nono

    This was the 2'nd book out of Máté's "The Tuscan Trilogy", and I am still livid about the fact, that our Public Library had this one but not the first. I really, really dislike (read, HATE!) it whenever I read a book series out of order, basically not reading from the beginning. But I was being repeatedly reassured by one of the Ladies that this was the first part. DX Anyway, this is an non-fictional Autobiography about land-life in sunny Tuscany and about the process of renovating a House & culti This was the 2'nd book out of Máté's "The Tuscan Trilogy", and I am still livid about the fact, that our Public Library had this one but not the first. I really, really dislike (read, HATE!) it whenever I read a book series out of order, basically not reading from the beginning. But I was being repeatedly reassured by one of the Ladies that this was the first part. DX Anyway, this is an non-fictional Autobiography about land-life in sunny Tuscany and about the process of renovating a House & cultivating grape vine so as to make Wine (& some money). Máté has done a nice job of making me wonder in between reading sessions when he was going to go mad, get himself & his small family ruined, drive off the next cliff or if he ever would gain a single drinkable drop of the so dearly desired Red Liquid.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    It's a romantic notion, to move to Italy and start a vineyard. It's a romantic notion that I've thought about more than a few times, and even discussed with my significant other. So when she found this book in a used bookstore, I was eager to read it. When I realized that it was the same Ferenc Mate who wrote the classic sailboat book, From A Bare Hull, I was even eager to read it. Ferenc has an easy going, humorous and fun to read writing style, and I found myself at the end of the book far too It's a romantic notion, to move to Italy and start a vineyard. It's a romantic notion that I've thought about more than a few times, and even discussed with my significant other. So when she found this book in a used bookstore, I was eager to read it. When I realized that it was the same Ferenc Mate who wrote the classic sailboat book, From A Bare Hull, I was even eager to read it. Ferenc has an easy going, humorous and fun to read writing style, and I found myself at the end of the book far too quickly. A true story, he describes most everything you'd hope for in restoring an old vineyard, complete with colorful locals and ultimately producing world renowned wines.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brittany

    I absolutely loved this book! It's such an informative and humorous account of Ferenc and his family making a big decision to sell their beloved home for something with land to start a vineyard...a dream of Ferenc's. Reading his trials and tribulations as he reconstructs his 'ruin' and learns to plant a vineyard is so entertaining it was difficult to ever put the book down! It didn't hurt that I read most of the book while in Tuscany, I must admit. And it has certainly added to my dream of movin I absolutely loved this book! It's such an informative and humorous account of Ferenc and his family making a big decision to sell their beloved home for something with land to start a vineyard...a dream of Ferenc's. Reading his trials and tribulations as he reconstructs his 'ruin' and learns to plant a vineyard is so entertaining it was difficult to ever put the book down! It didn't hurt that I read most of the book while in Tuscany, I must admit. And it has certainly added to my dream of moving there someday; although, I think I will not take on my own vineyard...but just enjoy the fruits of Ferenc's labor! Brava!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Olsen

    Mate is quite talented with words - this is not his first literary rodeo. Eventually, he becomes adept at Italian wine-making as well in this memoir. This book is his quest to start his own small vineyard. If you adore all things tuscan (I tend to), you'll enjoy this charming read. It's an education in Italian countryside living and tuscan wineries. The author drinks a lot throughout the book, which I expected as much given the title. But if that sort of thing bothers you, you've been warned. Ot Mate is quite talented with words - this is not his first literary rodeo. Eventually, he becomes adept at Italian wine-making as well in this memoir. This book is his quest to start his own small vineyard. If you adore all things tuscan (I tend to), you'll enjoy this charming read. It's an education in Italian countryside living and tuscan wineries. The author drinks a lot throughout the book, which I expected as much given the title. But if that sort of thing bothers you, you've been warned. Otherwise, indulge your love of Italy and enjoy this travel-style memoir from a talented writer with a quirky sense of humor.

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