Shadows in the vineyard book review

Shadows In The Vineyard Book Review

Book Club Questions Included

Shadows in the Vineyard: The True Story of the Plot to Poison the World’s Greatest Wine

I recently returned from a trip through France’s beautiful Burgundy region. Reading Shadows in the Vineyard has been on my list for a while. Readding it while visiting the region was like a perfect marriage. I have included book club questions in my Shadows in the Vineyard book review. I hope you enjoy the read.

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Book Summary

Shadows in the Vineyard by Maximillian Potter is a true story about the Domaine de la Romanée Conti. The story centers around this small vineyard in the Burgundy region of France. The plot to destroy the exquisite wines and the fiercely traditional culture surrounding the world’s greatest vineyards is fascinating.

Potter’s story begins with Edmond de Villaine, the Grand Monsieur of the Domaine de la Romanée Conti, and his oneness with the terroir. The job of Grand Monsieur is passed to his son Henri, and then his grandson, Aubert. It is Aubert who faces the greatest challenge when a fascinating plot to destroy the worlds greatest vines unfolds.

Aubert de Villaine, proprietor of the vineyard that produces a Burgundy Grand Cru — one of the most sought after wines ever — is faced with an anonymous ransom note outlining a plan to poison his priceless vines. At first, Villaine believes the threat to be a sick joke. However, the vines are not protected in any way. Something that never occurred to anyone in the quiet hamlets of Burgundy.

The crime, Blackmail. The haphazard perpetrator, a wayward vintner with an extensive knowledge of wine and poison. His criminal activity is intriguing and clever as he plans his sick joke. He sends an anonymous note threatening to poison the world’s greatest vines unless the one million euro ransom is paid. His sometimes brilliant and otherwise bumbling scheme becomes fraught with complications.

Shadows in the Vineyard is a story of the captivating world of Burgundy vineyards. The book is filled with a cast of fascinating characters and wayward small-town French politics. Intertwined with a local culture defined by hundreds of years of French wine history, the read comes away with the essense of Burgundy.

Vanity Fair Author

Shadows in the Vineyard grew out of a story Potter originally wrote for Vanity Fair Magazine. The sinister story that Potter uncovered would lead to a sting operation, the primary suspect’s suicide, and a ripple through the Burgundy region. The planned botanical crime threatened to destroy some of the worlds greatest wines.

Audible By Amazon

When you listen to books, the fabric of the story is wound around the words, the accents, and the scenery. You can easily conjure tableaus in your mind as the reader transports you to another place and time.

I have been a subscriber to Amazon Audible for several years and have listened to hundreds of books. Invariably I come away with a deeper understanding of the story.

When listening to books from your phone, you don’t have to lug heavy tomes around or find the page where you left off — it is all automatic.

When I fly, the first thing I do is put on my Beats Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones and turn on my current Audible Book. I am immediately transported to an alternate world, immersed in a captivating story. I am making my way re-reading the Phillipa Gregory series in chronological order, beginning with The Lady of the Rivers.

Book Club Questions

Shadows in the Vineyard book review

Shadows in the Vineyard recounts when Burgundy’s finest wines fall prey to an anonymous note threatening to poison the wine production. Do you remember when this crime shocked the French wine producing world?

What are your thoughts about holding a vineyard captive for one million euro ransom?

Burgundy’s Pinot Noir is regarded as the world’s greatest wine, and its availability is limited because the vineyard is small. Would you pay over $100,000 for a bottle of Domaine de la Romanée Conti wine? What is the most expensive wine you have tasted? Was it worth the price?

Were you surprised to find out only one person, Jacques Soltys, was responsible for planning the crime? Did you suspect other characters in the novel?

Did it seem counterintuitive that in 1976, Steven Spurrier’s wine tasting demonstrated Californian wines were preferred over the best of French wines? Do you think it is still a sore spot with many Burgundy wine vintners?

As the sinister story unfolds do you feel compassion towards Aubert de Villaine? Do you hold him responsible for the lack of security protecting his precious vines?

What does Mme Lalou Leroy’s role in the partnership of the Domaine de la Romanée play in the way the story unfolds?

What was the reason behind Soltys daring crime? Was his son also a culprit worthy of punishment?

As a true crime narrative, did you find the tension and story depth create a bona fide page turner?

Did the lessons in French history enhance or detract from the story’s tension?

True Wine Crime Story

Shadows in the vineyard book review

I enjoyed reading Shadows in the Vineyard, I would give it a solid four out of five stars. As a big fan of fine, heady wine, but I am not really interested in French history. The storied vineyard easily transported to France sipping Burgundy wine. I hope you found my Shadows in the Vineyard book review helpful. It is a good option for book club wine and discussion.

Happy Reading,



Another wonderful book about French wines — sparkling wines — is the true story of Madame Pomeroy.

Don’t you just hate it when your phone battery is in the dreaded red zone? I always carry Fuel Rods with me. They give me a battery boost, they are rechargeable, and they work with iphones and androids. 

Travel health insurance when you are heading out of the country is an important consideration. Many policies don’t fully cover you outside of the US. I use Safety Wing for my international travels. I use the one-time coverage option for individual trips. Luckily I haven’t had to use it, but it’s comforting to know I have it in place. 

If you know me, you know I love a glass of wine (or two). My favorite mail order wine company is Naked Wines. I order a case every month or so – no judgment please. I love that they work with small independent winemakers. And I get to choose what wine I want and when I want it delivered. 

Don’t forget to download my free packing list! It’s the perfect jumping off point to get your adventure started.

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  1. That’s so cool you visited the setting of Reading Shadows in the Vineyard. I love doing that also. Sounds like a good read!