Instead of chick-lit or extreme-adventure tales, tuck a novel about vineyards into your luggage this summer. Even if sandy beaches or prairie meadows are your view, these stories will transport you to a landscape of grapes, vines and intrigue. The novels here are a mix of mystery, romance and characters living out their best dreams.
Peter Mayle's A Good Year—which starred Russell Crowe in the film version—documents thirtysomething Max Skinner's job loss and how he turned that into a new beginning with the acquisition of his uncle's vineyard in Provence.
Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris, author of the acclaimed Chocolat, also set in Lansquenet, France, introduces Jay Mackintosh, a once-successful sci-fi writer in search of a new best-seller who uproots from his London home to Lansquenet. Drinking six bottles of homemade wine from a childhood friend named Joe propels his new adventure.
In Barney Leason's Grand Cru, a small Sonoma Valley vineyard's renowned Cabernet entices purchase offers from a large corporation. But owner Clara Morelli isn't convinced. She thinks there's more to the deal.
Carson Valley by Bill Barich tells the story of Victor, the eldest Torelli, and his daughter Anna, who returns from New York to help care for her mother and the family's 100-acre vineyard. Anna's romance with Arthur Atwater, a new vineyard manager, kicks up all sorts of heat around the estate.
Angela Davis-Gardner's Plum Wine opens with Barbara Jefferson receiving a chest of homemade plum wines after the death of her friend Michi. The bottles' rice-paper wrappings double as Michi's personal writings that Jefferson, with the help of a translator, begins to decipher.
In The Merlot Murders by Ellen Crosby, Lucie Montgomery returns to her family's 500-acre vineyard in Virginia after her father's sudden death, and tries to solve the question of who killed him.