Can you imagine a world without wine? How did an author create a new genre of wine thriller based on a winemaker’s worst nightmare? What if the root louse phylloxera that destroyed most of the European vineyards in the 1850s returned but was even more destructive?
In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with Steven Laine, award-winning restaurateur, hotelier, and author.
You can find the wines we discussed here.
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- What about the experience of travelling that motivated Steven to live in nine different countries?
- How did Steven become involved in the wine industry?
- Where did Steven’s inspiration to write thrillers come from?
- How did the root louse Grape phylloxera impact European vineyards in the 1800s?
- Which surprising facts did Steven learn about phylloxera while researching Root Cause?
- What’s the best moment of Steven’s writing career so far?
- Do beta readers play a role in Steven’s writing process?
- What can you expect from Steven’s book Root Cause?
- Who are Steven’s favourite mystery writers?
- Why are stuck fermentations a winemaker’s worst nightmare?
- Why does Steven love to read widely?
- What was the inspiration for Steven’s second book, Dragon Vine?
- The premise of Steven’s novel, can you imagine a world without wine, hooked me from the beginning. I can’t imagine erasing all those great times I’ve shared with friends and family over a glass or two, let alone not doing the work I love in this field.
- I love how he takes a winemaker’s worst nightmare and up the ante by having the root louse phylloxera come back as even more destructive. This doesn’t seem to be an impossibility with today’s climate change as well as the mutation of viruses that spread around the world quickly.
- I enjoyed Steven’s insights into how travel changed his perspective. I think each trip, each location brings out a different piece of us.
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About Steven Laine
Kirkus Reviews called Steven Laine’s first wine thriller, Root Cause, “An entertaining, wine-soaked mystery.” The Washington Post wrote; “If Michael Pollan and Dan Brown sat down over a bottle of Barolo and brainstormed a novel based on the neuroses of the natural wine movement, they might have come up with something like Root Cause.”
As an award-winning restaurateur and hotelier, Steven has travelled the world working in luxury hotels such as The Ritz, Hilton, Starwood, Marriott, and Pan Pacific. He developed his passion for wine as a Sommelier and Beverage Director in London, England. Since then, he has visited hundreds of wineries around the world.
During the pandemic, Steven worked the 2020 harvest as a cellarman for three months to learn the winemaking process firsthand from the winemakers at Mission Hill Family Estate Winery in British Columbia. In 2021, he worked at Trius Winery in Niagara-On-The-Lake, where he put his winemaking and forklift-driving skills to use.
He is currently living in London writing his next wine thriller, The Somm, and is looking forward to the release another wine thriller, Jupiter’s Blood.
- Connect with Steven Laine
- Steven’s Favourite Mystery Writers
- Chip Heath & Karla Starr’s Book Making Numbers Count: The Art and Science of Communicating Numbers
- Diary of a Book Launch: An Insider Peek from Idea to Publication
- My Books:
- Unreserved Wine Talk | Episode 13: Blending Humour and Wine in South Africa with Charles Back, Fairview Wine
- My new class The 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner And How To Fix Them Forever
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Thirsty for more?
- Sign up for my free online wine video class where I’ll walk you through The 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner (and how to fix them forever!)
- You’ll find my books here, including Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines and Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass.
- The new audio edition of Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass is now available on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com and other country-specific Amazon sites; iTunes.ca, iTunes.com and other country-specific iTunes sites; Audible.ca and Audible.com.
Steven Laine 0:00
You’d realise quickly how much of an impact flocks are ahead on the history of the vineyard landscape. A lot of French producers went to Argentina or went to Spain when philosopher was really impacting France. And that, of course, had implications on the winemaking techniques and traditions in those countries.
Natalie MacLean 0:16
They had to rip up. Well, everything was dead, the vines were dead. So it probably changed the way they planted. You know what varieties they planted how they planted their trellising system? Absolutely.
Steven Laine 0:25
Yeah, I mean, everything from the type of grapes that were planted and how they were planted, doing field blends anymore. So just doing mono crops effectively in different vineyards. It really changed in many respects for the better, they really forced winemakers to reassess how they made wine how they did their work, and as a result, we’re now blessed with those learnings.
Natalie MacLean 0:50
Do you have a thirst to learn about wine? Do you love stories about wonderfully obsessive people, hauntingly beautiful places, and amusingly awkward social situations? Well, that’s the blend here on the unreserved wine talk podcast. I’m your host, Natalie Maclean. And each week, I share with you unfiltered conversations with celebrities in the wine world, as well as confessions from my own tipsy journey as I write my third book on this subject. I’m so glad you’re here. Now pass me that bottle please. And let’s get started. Welcome to Episode 223. Can you imagine a world without wi porpoise? How did an author create a new genre of the wine thriller based on a winemakers worst nightmare? And what if the root louse phylloxera that destroyed most of the European vineyards in the 1850s returned? But what’s even more destructive? I think you’re gonna hear all those tips and stories in my chat with Stephen lane, author of the wine mystery novel root cause. Now a quick update on my upcoming memoir wine which on fire rising from the ashes of divorce defamation and drinking too much. So now that my book has gone to the printer, I’m feeling a little bit of an empty nest syndrome. Yeah, sure my manuscript is still in my computer. But the memoir is now out of my hands, I can’t make any more changes. I can’t stop it from going out into the world. And most of all, I can’t control what people will think of it. That last one, that’s the killer for someone like me, who always wants to be in control. But just as I had to open up on the pages, as I wrote it, now I have to open up as I face the public, and its reaction, whether in interviews, or on social media, or through the emails that will come in a need to keep responding with vulnerability, and an open heart. And I know the negative reviews will come. That’s what a book does. It provokes both positive and negative responses. So just as my son who graduates from Computer Engineering in May, we’ll have to go out and find his way in the world. So to will this book, it’ll have a life and a journey that is completely separate from me. And it’s probably best if I’m not there to interfere as someone is reading my book, I can imagine standing over their shoulder asking, hey, hey, what did you think of that insight? It didn’t miss it, did you? You seem to be turning those pages pretty fast. All I can do now is hope that it’s received. In the spirit. It was written with love, and a desire for hope, justice and resilience for all those who read it. Here’s a review from Lisa Marzano, an early reader from Chicago. I love a good overcoming obstacle story. I felt the author’s anxiety at the end of her marriage, wondering how to pay the bills, watching herself be cancelled online, and trying to manage her drinking both professionally and personally. I also felt the piece she achieved and appreciated the insights she gained throughout the process. I see how much the author learned about herself and what she could have done differently. Not many are able to evaluate themselves objectively. And I love that because it’s true for all of us. If you liked the book, wine girl, then you’ll like this one. It’s another look at the wine industry from another woman. I was made more aware of the industry by reading wine Girl by Victoria James. Natalie story sheds light on cyber bullying, with an emphasis on the cyber part because they were cowards in person. I suspect that translates to all industries as folks are much more confident while hiding behind a computer. My favourite parts were her getting her writing business off the ground. Facing the bullies in person, and maintaining poise while doing a TV segment on pairing wine with fast food, despite those who mocked her for the idea. Again, I really liked the insights that the author gained while telling her story. I believe this book would pair nicely with any book club, great storytelling, about a triumph over tragedy, overcoming obstacles and finding peace. Five stars. Thank you, Lisa. I would love to hear from you. If your book club reads this. There is a book club guide that suggests wines and questions as you read the book and tips on organising an informal wine tasting or book club, whatever you need. And that is free by the way on my website at Natalie maclean.com forward slash which wine as in WI tch. I posted a link to a blog post called Diary of a book launch in the show notes at Natalie maclean.com forward slash two to three. This is also where I share more behind the scenes stories about the journey of taking this memoir from idea to publication. If you want a more intimate insider seat beside me on this journey, please let me know that you’d like to become an early reader and get a sneak peek at the book before it’s published. Email me at Natalie at Natalie maclean.com. Okay, on with the show.
Natalie MacLean 6:27
Can you imagine a world without wine? What if the root louse phylloxera that destroyed most of European vineyards in the 1850s returned but it was even more destructive? And have you heard the story about how a winemaker got into hot water with counterfeit wine a local gang immigration authorities and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives. Holy smokes Yes, we have all of those stories and more for you with our guest. Kirkus Reviews calls Steven Lane’s first wine thriller root cause quote, an entertaining wine soaked mystery, my kind. The Washington Post wrote, quote, If Michael Poulin and Dan Brown sat down over a bottle of Barolo and brainstormed a novel based on the neuroses, of the natural wine movement, they might have come up with something like root cause. I love that as an award winning restaurant tour and hotel a, Stephen has travelled the world working in luxury hotels such as the Ritz Hilton, Starwood, Marriott and Pan Pacific. He developed his passion for wine as a sommelier and beverage director in London, England. Since then, he’s visited hundreds of wineries around the world. During the pandemic, Steven work the 2020 harvest as a seller man for three months to learn the winemaking process firsthand. From winemakers at Mission Hill family Estate Winery in British Columbia. And in 2021, he worked at Triest winery in Niagara on the Lake, where he put his winemaking and forklift driving skills to use. He is currently living in London writing his next wine thriller thus som and is looking forward to the release of a yet another wine thriller soon called Jupiter’s blood. And he joins us now from his home in London, England. Steven, welcome. We’re so glad you’re here.
Steven Laine 8:19
Hi, Natalie. It’s great to be here. Thanks for inviting me.
Natalie MacLean 8:21
Ah, terrific. Well, I just have so many questions for you. But before we dive into your books, you have lived in nine different countries. At least that was the count I saw recently. What about travel appeals to you beyond sort of experiencing new cultures and people that sort of thing?
Steven Laine 8:39
Well, aside from experiencing new cultures, and people, I think you’ll learn a lot about yourself, really. So I’ve learned a lot about myself and travelling and learned a lot about the world, of course, and they say the cure to anything from ignorance to racism is travel. And I love how they compare travel to being a library. Whereas if you don’t move, you’ve only ever read one page. Oh, I love that. So I mean, there’s so many great anecdotes about what travel does to broaden the mind broaden the horizons. And it really does do that. And it’s helped me put a lot of my life into perspective and my work in perspective and eternally humbling to see how people live and work in different parts of the world. And at the end of the day, we all come down to the same thing. We want to be happy. We want to take care of our families, and we want to be successful in life. That could
Natalie MacLean 9:21
be a TED talk, the intro to a TED Talks. Very nice, very nice. I love that your perspective on travel. So how did you first become involved in the wine industry?
Steven Laine 9:30
Well, I was working at a hotel here in London, and I was working in the banqueting department and part of my job was to organise all the pre orders for wines for big banquets. And so we’ve worked very closely with the wine list. And after about six months of being there, the directors of the hotel came to me and said, great, it’s time to update the wine list. Little did I know that was my responsibility. So a bit daunting at the time. I didn’t have a lot of experience in the wine industry or with wines and this was a wine list that generated between 26 and 30 million pounds worth have alcohol sales per year, so I couldn’t afford the 35,000,030 8 million Canadian. Thankfully, I had a very good team of distributors and people that I worked with to buy the wines. And they guided me through the process. So we said we wanted this type of wine so we don’t belong or it shouldn’t belong. And then we would do a tasting and look at the brands look at the pricing. And it all came together. So really, really good introduction. And through that experience, I did get to meet a lot of winemakers and got invited to go see Ballinger and champagne got out to Louie shadow and burgundy a few Chateau and Bordeaux. And then of course, a travel bug the wine bug just bit me and it’s never let go.
Natalie MacLean 10:37
That’s great. We seem to have gotten your backdoor master of wine with all that tasting and travelling for you. Somebody else paid for it even better. So what was the moment you realised you wanted to write about wine or wine thrillers?
Steven Laine 10:53
Well, I started reading thrillers back when I was in university in Canada, and then I was in a psychology class, and they were talking about, Oh, where’d
Natalie MacLean 11:00
you go to school? I’m just curious. I
Steven Laine 11:02
went to Queens. Okay, I went did my history degree in Queens. So obviously, it would work in hotels as a natural course. But I also did an MBA at Guelph University in hospitality. So while I was at Queens, I was taking a class in psychology and they talked about a phenomenon called Iota Genesis, whereby doctors implant memories in people’s minds. I thought, well, what if that was something that really happened? And what would that look like if it was a fictional story? I read a lot of fiction at the time. And because I just had this idea in my mind, I thought, well, maybe I’ll write about it. So I wrote my first novel lethal suggestions based on that. Years later, I wrote another thriller called iconoclast religious conspiracy thriller. Back when Dan Brown was very popular. I thought, well, maybe I’ll have a go at it. So enjoy the process. But it was only when I met Joel Peterson here in London at a wine tasting from Ravenswood, the head winemaker at Ravenswood wines. And he told me about a book called the botanist and the vintner by Christie Campbell. That’s when I read that book. And I had another aha moment. What if phylloxera were to come back? And that was the genesis of the story idea for root cause?
Natalie MacLean 12:04
Wow, I love the premise, as we know from researching and writing about wine, it was just devastating. phylloxera. How much of the vineyards was it like 80 90% of the vineyards in Europe?
Steven Laine 12:15
Exactly. I mean, it it’s hard to think back now just how destructive it was across France across band across the world, really. And it wasn’t just a period of a year or to mean we’re not talking about COVID length amount of time, it was over decades, and it took years to discover how to prevent it in future by grafting vines. And to this day, there’s still no real prevention except for grafting vines, which isn’t the best solution necessarily out there. Yes.
Natalie MacLean 12:38
And just a quick catch up for anyone not familiar with phylloxera. They had to eventually graph North American vines hardier rootstock, they had to have those on the bottom graph those with the European vines. So those North American roots are everywhere. Now to prevent this. It was a root louse an aphid that ate away at the roots of the vines and killed them, right.
Steven Laine 13:03
Yes. And ironically, that came from America initially on chips. So it was an American cause to the problem, but also an American solution to the problem. That
Natalie MacLean 13:10
sounds like the ultimate marketing plan. Some companies use today, here’s your problem. Here’s your solution. I don’t know that. Is there anything that was the surprises about phylloxera. The devastations is certainly surprising. But the aphid or anything about it, that surprised you while you were researching and writing this book.
Steven Laine 13:28
I mean, I’m at Spanish wine scholar and a time wine scholar and a French wine scholar, I had a lot of time off during COVID, thankfully, so that allowed me to study. And when you’re doing all these studies, and researching all these different areas, you don’t realise that when you do realise quickly how much of an impact phylloxera had on the history of the vineyard landscape. So a lot of French producers went to Argentina, for instance, or went to Spain, when phylloxera was really impacting France. And that, of course, had implications on the winemaking techniques and traditions in those countries.
Natalie MacLean 13:58
That’s amazing. And again, they would have also had to replant in a major way. They had to rip up well, everything was dead, the vines were dead. So it probably changed the way they planted. You know what varieties they planted how they planted their trellising system. I mean, they had to start from scratch anyway, so I’m sure they had to rethink a lot of things.
Steven Laine 14:15
Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, everything from the type of grapes that were planted and how they were planted, doing field blends anymore. So just doing mono crops effectively in different vineyards. It really changed again, the whole landscape of winemaking in a lot of different countries, but in many respects for the better as well. So it really forced winemakers to reassess how they made wine, how they grew grapes, how they near all did their work. And as a result, we’re now blessed with those learnings.
Natalie MacLean 14:39
True. We are the beneficiaries. And just before we keep going on that, can you recall sort of the best moment of your writing career so far? I’m sure there’ll be many more to come but
Steven Laine 14:50
suddenly getting root cause published, but further to that just getting engaged with so many people on Instagram On Facebook And Twitter, meeting people meeting winemakers and sharing with Then with my book. So it’s been a fascinating journey. And every winemaker has a story. Every wine has a story. So it’s always fascinating talking to these people, and understanding where they came from and what the stories are behind the scenes. And it’s all grist for the mill rabbits, isn’t it? So eventually, you’ll see a lot of these little stories and anecdotes I pick up along the way, in my books,
Natalie MacLean 15:19
that’s great, because people get to learn about the industry at the same time that they’re wrapped up in this thriller story.
Steven Laine 15:25
I certainly hope so. I always enjoy reading thrillers and books, where I’m learning along the way or being exposed to a different part of the world or a different industry that I’m not familiar with. And again, being wrapped up in a great story. Yes, that’s what I hope to do as well entertain, educate, and just let people know what the wine industry is all about.
Natalie MacLean 15:41
Exactly. Always have to entertain before we educate, or else no one’s paying attention or gets to page 17. In your book.
Steven Laine 15:48
I do need to stop myself. Occasionally, people might not be too interested in hearing the history of a great for three pages. So
Natalie MacLean 15:54
it might be but then again, that’s a pretty small niche audience, isn’t it?
Steven Laine 15:58
I think so. So that’s the feedback I quite often get from my beta readers when they say okay, Steve, your info dumping now, we don’t need to know all this. Just tell us what’s happening next. Right.
Natalie MacLean 16:07
Oh, gosh, I hear you. Because, you know, there were certain parts of my memoir, where I wanted to slot in something that was really sounded like an essay, or just, you know, some nice description of Vinyard or something. And it’s like, you know what, that’s really not moving the story forward. Did
Steven Laine 16:23
you exactly. Serve in a story?
Natalie MacLean 16:25
You have to kill your darlings? I guess Hemingway said. So tell me just Well, you mentioned that the beta readers, how does that work for you? Who are they? What do they do for you, as you’re writing a book?
Steven Laine 16:36
Well, initially, like with many writers is very small pool of my family. But over time, I developed a bigger pool of individuals I worked with, to read the books, and it was friends. But now I work with a group of writers with international thriller writers. So one is a doctor one writes, TV shows for everything from house to whatever else TV shows are on these days. But it’s a really, really good writer. So we meet every month, we all submit 5000 words a month, we review each other’s work. And it’s great because I get a lot of feedback from people from around the world at different levels of their writing. And I find if they’re all saying the same thing, then there’s probably something I need to fix or address. So I do get a lot of feedback that way and reading their works and editing their works, I’m learning along the way as well. So it’s critical. I think, if you’re going to be a writer, and I tell this to anybody getting into the industry, make sure you have a strong group of beta readers who will guide you along the way and help you out in terms of improving your writing. Absolutely.
Natalie MacLean 17:28
Yeah, I found BETA readers to be indispensable and they will catch that your eye will not see even if you’re reading your own text aloud. Like you know, I used words that sound the same but had different spellings and would have been the wrong meaning like disillusion I was disillusioned with life versus dissolution, like of a company, or stalking and stalking, you know, prey versus, you know, stalking a company store. So yeah, I rely on them. And they’re so valuable to the writing process. Yeah.
Steven Laine 18:01
And they tend to make sure you’re not being too self indulgent. Yes. Writing. So the little inside jokes you want to put in there the little things you want to say that make sense to you. But nobody else? They’ll catch you on it. And they’ll tell you, Steve, come on. Yeah, exactly.
Natalie MacLean 18:12
Exactly. Just flat out. I’m bored. Okay, move on. Yeah. And
Steven Laine 18:17
the more critical they can be, the better. So that’s why your family members aren’t always the best beta reader because
Natalie MacLean 18:22
they love you. And they’ll go, oh, this is great. Just like when you brought home your spelling bee test in kindergarten.
Steven Laine 18:30
As a writer, that’s not what you need. No, you need a real critic.
Natalie MacLean 18:32
Exactly. You already talked about meeting Joel Peterson winemaker at Ravenswood. In California. We’ve talked about the premise of the book, if phylloxera came back. Did you put a twist on that? Or was it the same flux or a new virulent strain of phylloxera. What was a little bit more of the storyline, in addition to flux or comes back and wine is under threat worldwide?
Steven Laine 18:56
Well, without giving too much away, and what spoilers the premise of the story is that it’s based on a genetically mutated strain of phylloxera. So it’s an intentional spread of Luxor, and the whole story revolves around who would do that. Why would they do that? And how on earth would you stop
Natalie MacLean 19:10
it? Yeah, exactly. Oh, that’s great. It’s a who done it and why?
Steven Laine 19:14
Yeah, that’s pretty much a mystery thriller, conspiracy. Genre type book, Dan
Natalie MacLean 19:18
Brown or Agatha Christie 101. Yeah, the foundation’s. My mind is probably a little too dark. But I’ve always wondered if something like flocks or jumped species and went into human beings and attacked our nervous system or something like that. Have you ever speculated about sort of wind things? Wind diseases going into him? Probably not. I don’t know. But
Steven Laine 19:39
not yet. But certainly it could be an idea for a future but who knows? Okay. rather scary to think about, we’ve just gone through. Maybe the appetite isn’t there for
Natalie MacLean 19:49
keep it to vines and wines? Yes, absolutely. So you’ve created this new genre of wine thrillers, you said you were always reading fiction and thrillers and you Diversity you start with medical? Do you have some favourite mystery thriller writers?
Steven Laine 20:05
Well, when I was young, I think I read all of Stephen King’s so that’s where my dark sense of humour and dark writing comes from. Yes, I love medical thrillers which are very technical in many respects everything like Robin Cook, Michael Palmer, Michael Crighton. But I really enjoy thriller writers to like James rowland’s or Matthew Reilly, Douglas Preston and Lincoln child have really great intelligent thrillers. So I like thrillers that make you think and again, that take place in a world or an industry that maybe you’re not familiar with, that you can learn along the way. Because when you start talking to winemakers, or anybody in any industry, there’s all sorts of fascinating aspects to their work. Anything oh my god, that’d be great thing for a book. And in Dragon via my second wind thriller, I was chatting with a guy who’s when we’re going out a Bruce Cakebread in Napa Valley, and we were chatting about stock fermentations. And because I asked him, What’s the worst thing that can happen to you on a day to day basis? And he said, stuck fermentation?
Natalie MacLean 20:54
Oh, wow. And what is that just for those who don’t know, a stuck fermentation
Steven Laine 20:58
is when the fermentation of the wine stops. So of course, when you get your juice in the tank, it’s fermenting and the alcohol is being created. And if you run out of fuel, or you run out of sugar, the fermentation stops. And if you have a stuck fermentation, because there’s not enough yeast or not enough sugar, then you’ll have a big vat of Kool Aid, essentially, or a semi fermented wine, which would just be for waste. So you’ve got to unstick the fermentation. And there’s a series of different ways you can do that. And I talked about that in a novel. So there’s a challenge that the young winemaker has to solve on the spot.
Natalie MacLean 21:28
Cool. You just rattled off a list of great mystery writers. We’ll include those in the show notes if people want a reading list, because I’m sure they’d love to tap into your books and then segue right over to those. I hadn’t heard of some of them. So I’d love to get your list afterwards.
Steven Laine 21:42
I read very widely. So right now I’m reading a book Absolutely. Some nonfiction books. One’s called Making numbers count. It’s all about how to communicate the power of numbers without using numbers. So it’s a fascinating book. So yeah, I have to read a bit of everything really has a history major. So I read a lot.
Natalie MacLean 21:58
Excellent POLYMATH. So what was the inspiration for your second book, Dragon vine, maybe tell us a little bit about what the storyline is, again, with no spoilers?
Steven Laine 22:07
Yeah. Well, I’ve been reading about me this is going back years now I’ve been reading about lost grape variety. So these grape varieties that you people find behind a small wall in a small Italian town that nobody has seen for years. And then winemakers are bringing them back. So Torres in Spain is doing this or looking for loss varieties and bring them back you see this in Italy as well, with T Moroso, for instance, a great variety that was kind of cast aside and is now resurging in popularity. And it occurred to me that there might be some great grape varieties around the world. And I was working in Hong Kong at the time when the story came to mind. So I thought, what if there is some incredible Chinese variety that somehow got to America was cross blended and became a very popular variety. So again, I don’t wanna give too much away, probably have just now but
Natalie MacLean 22:49
no, no, that’s intriguing. It’s how would that unfold? Yeah, that’s
Steven Laine 22:53
how the story came to mind. And once I have the story idea, the big what if then I started creating the characters around it the motivations that they would have to solve the mystery or to perpetuate the mystery. And then the story unfolds from there.
Natalie MacLean 23:06
Is counterfeiting involved in this as well? Yes, very
Steven Laine 23:09
much. So. I mean, counterfeiting is huge, especially if you’re in Asia, we all hear stories of there’s more fake petrusa in China than there is Patrice made around the world. So every industry is affected. There’s also images, fake websites, there’s fake serial, there’s fake jewellery. Every industry is affected by counterfeiting wine, especially because of its value or perceived value.
Natalie MacLean 23:29
Absolutely. And so you know, there’s always what happens in a book. But what is the story really about? And I think I might have heard this from you in another interview, but this story is about, you know, family, what you’ll do to defend family love, like the bigger themes. What are those in this book?
Steven Laine 23:48
It is a book about family at the very beginning is no surprise. So in the first chapter, so I’m not giving anything away. But the main character’s father dies in a California wildfire. He’s left with his younger sister rather to take care of their mom passed away years ago. But there’s a whole issue of legacy do they keep the winery do they continue trying to make this wine that nobody believed in? It just comes down to legacy and family. And similarly in root cause, the main character corvina Gara. She has a very strained relationship with her father, which means over the course of the book until the end, when she realises what he was actually doing to protect her and raise her and give her everything she needed in life to be successful. So all the main themes are about family and my stories and love. And you know, it can’t just be about just being a thriller. There’s got to be more to it. We all want to read a great story about people.
Natalie MacLean 24:35
Yeah, the universal themes that reminds me of a page right out of Yellowstone. You know, if anybody’s watching that, I guess everybody’s watching it. Now. What they’ll do to defend their Montana Ranch, it’s Kevin Costner, but that sounds like one of those family dramas. So is there anything that surprised you in researching this book, either about counterfeiting or grape varieties? Anything? Yeah, that might surprise us.
Steven Laine 24:57
Well, as a history major, I’d love to research so when I was really Searching his book, what they’ll say about writers quite often is you’ll only put about 10% of what you learn in a book. And that’s for sure the case with the Chinese wine industry did a tonne of research on Chinese wine, the grape varieties the history, First Emperor, and only about 10% actually makes it into the book in some way or another. But yeah, the rich history of winemaking in China really surprised me and the sheer variety and the sheer, I guess, future of the winery, industry and grape industry in China is phenomenal. I mean, they’re going to be surpassing many other wine producing countries in the next 1020 30 years. So it’s a region we all need to keep an eye on. And there’s a lot of people going out there to support it and to help build it.
Natalie MacLean 25:37
Natalie MacLean 25:44
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed my chat with Steven. Here are my takeaways. Number one, the premise of Stephens novel. Can you imagine a world without wine hooked me from the beginning? I can’t imagine erasing all those great times I’ve shared with friends and family over a glass or two, let alone not doing the work I love in this field. Number two, I really like how he takes a winemakers worst nightmare, and then ups the ante by having the root louse phylloxera come back as even more disruptive. This just doesn’t seem to be an impossibility with today’s climate change as well as the mutation of viruses that spread around the world quickly. And three, I enjoyed Stephens insights into how travel changed his perspective. I think each trip each location brings out a different piece in us. In the shownotes, you’ll find my email contact the full transcript of my conversation with Steven links to his website and book and where you can find the live stream video versions of these conversations on Facebook and YouTube Live every Wednesday at 7pm. You’ll also find a link to my free Ultimate Guide to wine and food pairing. That’s all in the show notes at Natalie maclean.com forward slash two to three. Email me if you have a sip, tip question, or would like to be an early reader of my memoir at Natalie, at Natalie maclean.com. If you missed episode 13 go back and take a listen. I chat about blending humour and wine in South Africa with Charles back of Fairview wine. He is hilarious. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.
Unknown Speaker 27:22
When the farmers have a altercation in France and what they normally do, they drive into Paris with big truckloads of manure and dump it on the shawnzy elisee. So I thought let’s be African we’re going to be a bit more sophisticated than that. And I vacuum packed some goat droppings to take to the ambassador because they were beautiful garden. And I thought there could be fertiliser for some perfect go droppings, and I presented to him with a beautiful Brie that we make at Fairview and obviously a Magnum of Gatorade, and it all ended in a good spirit and they stopped pursuing the trademark infringement. And today I own the trademark gets to
Natalie MacLean 28:00
there’s fabulous and did the publicity help at all.
Unknown Speaker 28:03
I think that’s the reason why they stopped which they carried on because I subsequently registered goat roti, which is a roasted goat. Then we also had Bordeaux. A doe is a female guide says very bored because he’s only permitted to grow five varieties of grapes which is terrible.
Natalie MacLean 28:26
If you liked this episode, please email or tell one friend about it this week, especially someone you know who’d be interested in the wines tips and stories we shared. You won’t want to miss next week when we continue our chat with Steven lane. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week, perhaps a Chilean wine made from pre phylloxera vines
Natalie MacLean 28:56
you don’t want to miss one juicy episode of this podcast, especially the secret full body bonus episodes that I don’t announce on social media. So subscribe for free now at Natalie maclean.com forward slash subscribe up here next week. Cheers