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The holidays are prime time for wine lovers. Popping corks and sharing prize bottles from the wine cellar with family and friends is part of the festive experience as wine aficionados exchange gifts of highly-rated wines, new discoveries, indispensable wine accessories, and terrific wine books for fireside winter reading.

To help with your wish list for Santa, or to shop well for others, Summit Wine Cellars presents 10 terrific wine books we’ll be giving and would love to get in our stockings.

“The World Atlas of Wine,” 8th edition,
by Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson

It may be heresy to say this in the Digital Age, but serious wine lovers who buy noble bottles to age in a wine cellar also love the aesthetic and tactile experience of wine maps. Like winemaking, cartographer combines art, science, and even instinct to produce something greater than the sum of raw materials. Maps of wine regions and the wine trade are the heart of  “The World Atlas of Wine” by legendary wine writers Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson. The 8th edition of a book Andrew Jefford of Decanter magazine calls “the most useful single volume on wine ever published” just came out and adds new sections on China and England, as well as 22 new maps among the 416 pages.

 “Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2020”

The perfect mini companion to “The World Atlas of Wine” is Hugh Johnson’s checkbook-sized “Pocket Wine Book 2020.” Meant as a portable reference guide to the world’s fine wines that can be conveniently tucked inside a sport coat pocket or handbag, this definitive resource is updated annually, serving as an au courant buying guide—especially for anyone feeling a bit of vertigo when looking at rows and rows of labels in a wine shop or lists of vintages on a restaurant wine list. In addition to a new section breaking down wine flavors, Johnson offers straightforward information on wines, regions, producers, and vintages.

“Natural Wine for the People:
What It Is, Where to Find It, How to Love It”
by Alice Feiring

James Beard Award-winning wine writer Alice Feiring is a champion of natural wines, those produced with methods favoring minimal intervention, no additives, and organic and biodynamic growing methods. The title of her latest book, “Natural Wine for the People: What It Is, Where to Find It, How to Love It” is self-explanatory. Feiring offers “a pithy, accessible guide filled with easy definitions, tips and tricks for sourcing the best wines, whimsical illustrations, a definitive list to the must-know producers and bottlings, and an appendix with the best shops and restaurants specializing in natural wine across the country, making this the must-buy and must-gift wine book of the year,” says Penguin Random House. Also look for Feiring’s other books, “The Battle for Wine and Love,” and “Naked Wine: Letting Grapes Do What Comes Naturally.”

Wine Simple: A Totally Approachable Guide
From a World-Class Sommelier”
by Aldo Sohm

This new book is billed as a dynamic, essential wine guide for a new generation, and it takes a different and hipper approach to wine. Aldo Sohm is the James Beard Award-winning wine director of Le Bernardin and a partner in the eponymous Aldo Sohm Wine Bar in Manhattan, but the way he approaches wine is the opposite of elitist or pretentious. “Wine Simple” begins with the fundamentals of wine presented through digestible bites of information, and helpful tips address such subjects how to taste wines, when to look for bargains and when to splurge. “Sohm then teaches you how to take your wine knowledge to the next level and evolve your palate, including techniques on building a ‘flavor library,’ a cheat sheet to good (and great) vintages (and why you shouldn’t put everything on the line for them), tips on troubleshooting tricky wines (corked? mousy?), and for the daring, even how to saber a bottle of Champagne,” his website says. A great holiday gift for those in the early stages of the wine appreciation curve, this book will give them the confidence and enthusiasm to immerse themselves.

Decoding Italian Wine:
A Beginner’s Guide to Enjoying the Grapes,
Regions, Practices, and Culture of the ‘Land of Wine’”
by Andrew Cullen and Ryan Anthony McNally

Wine connoisseurs with more than a little experience consistently praise and preach the virtues of Italian wines, but to the uninitiated, the landscape is as confusing as it is evocative. Which is why there’s always fertile ground for good introductory guides to Italian wines, grapes, and regions. “Decoding Italian Wine” is written by Andrew Cullen and Ryan Anthony McNally, the creators of CostcoWineBlog.com and VivaItalianMovies.com, which indicates that it’s more fun and entertaining than academic and encyclopedic. “Our goal is for readers to feel comfortable visiting the Italian wine section at their local wine shop, engaging in dialogue about the wine, and picking out a bottle they’ll enjoy,” the authors say. “We want readers to open the wine list at an Italian restaurant, understand what they’re looking at, and have fun picking a wine that will pair best with their meal.” Giacomo Fani of Frescobaldi Winery calls the book “a clear guide for anyone approaching the Italian Wine world.

“Adventures on the Wine Route:  A Wine Buyer’s Tour of France”
 by Kermit Lynch

“Adventures on the Wine Route” by Kermit Lynch, the national importer of wines that express their terroir, is not a new book. It was first published in 1988 and a 25th anniversary edition was released in 2013. But it remains a must-have volume for Francophiles and French wine lovers, as it chronicles his adventures on wine trips in France. “Kermit Lynch’s colorful portraits of some idiosyncratic vintners, and his commentaries on their wines, make for some of the finest reading since Joseph Wechsberg ate and drank his way through France in his book ‘Blue Trout and Black Truffles,’” Robert M. Parker, Jr. says. The 25th anniversary edition includes a new epilogue, advancing the original narrative, and contains a list of the twenty-five most memorable wines for Lynch, who in 1998, Lynch bought the Domaine Les Pallières in Gigondas in partnership with his friends, the Brunier brothers of Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe.

 “Notes on a Cellar-Book”
by George Saintsbury

George Saintsbury’s classic was first published way back in 1920 but it remains one of the greatest wine books of all time. In essence, “Notes on a Cellar-Book” is a collection of tasting notes, menus, anecdotes, and reminiscences—of drinking wine, and of drinking in general. Saintsbury recounts the pleasures of Romanée-Conti as well as beer and other alcoholic beverages. Once you pick it up, you won’t put it down (and you won’t want to read it without a glass in hand.) In a new edition published in 2008, Thomas Pinney brings context to the classic work with explanatory endnotes, an essay on the book’s legacy, and additional articles on wine by Saintsbury.

East Coast Wineries:
A Complete Guide from Maine to Virginia

Here’s another book that isn’t new but also comes from a wine world legend—this one much closer to home. A former VP and editorial director for barnesandnoble.com, the CEO/publisher of Warren Street Books and a prolific writer on many subjects, Carlo DeVito is also the owner of Hudson-Chatham Winery in Ghent, N.Y. His book East Coast Wineries: A Complete Guide from Maine to Virginia is the only comprehensive guide to wineries of the eastern United States, which produce a number of highly coveted wines. For those of us on the East Coast, it’s an invaluable passport to wineries close to home producing some world-class wines, like Hudson-Chatham Winery, growing Seyval Blanc, Baco Noir, Chelois, Burdin, Chambourcin, Le Colonel, DeChaunac, and several others. It has been named the best winery in the Capitol Region five out of seven years, receiving 90+ scores on several wines. In 2016, Hudson-Chatham opened a second retail outlet in Tannersville, N.Y., followed in 2017 by a third tasting room on in Troy, N.Y.

Cork Dork
by Bianca Bosker

The full title of this book is “Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste.” It takes the reader inside the world of sommeliers in an entertaining and often humorous way, with plenty of wine education along the way. There’s also plenty of information on the world of collecting fine wines (hence our interest in the book). It’s a great winter read that was both a New York Times best-seller and a critics’ pick.

“Wine and War
by Don and Petie Kladstrup

Wine and War” isn’t a new book, but it’s easily available on Amazon and it’s the type of gripping wine narrative that you’ll love reading by the fire, with a good French wine at hand and snow falling outside. Don and Petie Kladstrup tell the story of France’s vintners whose courageous and ingenious actions protected and rescued the country’s treasured wines and vineyards from German plunder during World War II. The Wall Street Journal called it “a great yarn, as gripping as a good adventure story.”

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Fred Tregaskis and Summit Wine Cellars, LLC, (https://summit-cellars.com) have created dramatic custom wine cellars for clients throughout the world, from Maine to California, and Bangalore to Buenos Aries.

Summit Wine Cellars has its own dedicated manufacturing facility in Connecticut, where expert craftsmen fabricate all the components—in wood, metal, glass and other materials. Those bespoke components of each unique cellar are shipped to each cellar location and assembled there by Summit Wine Cellars, before the final flourishes and finishing touches are added.

“I think it’s important that the wine cellar be fun because wine itself is fun. It should be generous and big and a cool place to go hangout,” says Tregaskis. “It’s the wine that’s the star of the show. I’m really making a pedestal for the wine.”

To learn more about Summit Wine Cellars, LLC and the wine cellar design process, contact Summit Wine Cellars by email at info@summit-cellars.com, or by phone at 203-916-1664. Make sure to see the Portfolio page for examples of Summit’s traditional and modern wine cellar design.