Christmas came early yesterday!!

Stephan Reinhardt, The Finest Wines of Germany

(This is an announcement. You can find the review of the book here.)

This is what I received in the mail yesterday. I cannot tell you how excited I am. It is the first book on German wine written in English in quite a while. I first stumbled across it in the summer, when I saw a facebook friend liking the page “The Finest Wines of Germany”. I was puzzled, because I definitely recognized the motive on the cover: It is my hometown Nackenheim’s church steeple, with vineyards in front of it. I actually grew up with this sight!! I know what these church bells sounds like. I have played with the red soil under the vines. How awesome is that??!! I actually know the exact spot it was taken from, because returning from a hike in the vineyards, this is what I see…

Imagine my disappointment when I realized that this cover is only on the UK version of the book, while the American version has a rather generic wine harvest on it. Plus, the American cover in general really looks worse (the black does not really help it), while the white on the UK version looks way more sophisticated (call me biased, whatever).

See what I mean?

The American cover

But when I checked prices at www.amazon.com and www.amazon.co.uk (the links will take you straight to the book’s detail page), I also realized that the book was cheaper in the UK than in the US. That sealed the deal for me. I asked friends in London whether I could have the book shipped to them, which they agreed to, and then they shipped it on to me…and here I am, feeling like a boy at Christmas eve (in Germany, we get our presents on Christmas eve, not in the morning on Christmas day). I will write a proper review shortly, but I just had to share this with you. If you love German wines, consider this investment…Europeans: You can get it for £10 at Amazon.co.uk right now, which is half off!

Btw, this is the church in full…I have many more featuring it, but this was the first I was able to find:

My home town’s church

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20 thoughts on “Christmas came early yesterday!!

  1. Ryan says:

    WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by searching for german wine

  2. very good post, i definitely really like this excellent website, carry on it

  3. […] you might remember, I was very excited when I received my copy of Stephan Reinhardt’s new book “The Finest Wines of Germany. A […]

  4. Jon Wyand says:

    I once asked a wine writer to autograph a paperback version of his book which had been well used. He smiled at the cracked spine and explained it indicated a frequently opened book, so he was happy !
    Some books are meant to be read, others just seen.

    • Jon, this is so true. I was never prouder when handing a book to an author for an autograph that showed that it had been a companion for a while…and then see that recognition by the author. :)

  5. Jon wyand says:

    Standing up for my home industry, I can only say it may be perhaps they get read more often ;-) !

  6. jadesandwich says:

    Why must the UK always make literature look cooler than in the US? haha

  7. Jon wyand says:

    As the photographer for the series, I find it interesting to read these comments. A quick comparison of Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com will show you how these covers have varied over the seven titles. In fact only in the case of Champagne were both illustrations the same and initially the US covers were in B+W ( ? even more sober and serious ? ). I suspect black in the US might have something to do with the intellectual nature of the publisher, University of California Press. Certainly I preferred the white but it begins to look grubby once it is handled in the field (and the cellar !)
    As for a choice of picture, well how do you some up a region in one picture, let alone a country ? The good thing is that although it is cropped, the photo is not adulterated with text. I would be interested to hear what importance readers attach to the photos, and whether they make a point of visiting wineries.
    Best
    Jon

    • Jon, thank you so much for stopping by and let me say right off the bat: You did a great job with the photos. As I am leafing through the volume I cannot understate how impressed I am: the vintners portraits seem to capture their personality, and to me that is one of the most important things. As a reader I want to have an idea who and how these vintners are. And your photos help tremendously. I am a visual person, so it is important to me to connect faces or images to text. Your photos help me a lot.

      Regarding your question: I do visit wineries whenever I can. I feel a better connection to them once I was able to talk to the vintner and know the place, probably goes with the visual thing I mentioned earlier.

      I totally agree that it is good that both photos are not littered with text, a practice I am not fond of at all. You have a fair point in how to capture a country or region in one shot. And I am very biased towards the UK version because I have an emotional connection to the motive that predates the cover.

      Regarding the black and the publisher UCP: university presses these days act a lot like normal publishers, so I doubt it is their academic background. It must have been a decision made when the series started and then they did not want to change it. I just would love to know what these decisions are based on…

      I never even thought of the emerging grubbiness once you use the book in the field and cellar. I guess to me, this is less a travel book than a book for perusal at home, so I assume my copy will be a bit safer.

      I hope others will weigh in as well!

      One question from me: Were you involved in the editorial decision which photo went on the covers? If so, why did you choose each?

      Again, great job on the photos!!

      • Jon wyand says:

        Thanks for the kind words, I take your point about UCP and colours, I was just searching for a plausible reason !
        My books get grubby because one copy gets shown to winemakers I’m about to shoot, to try to reassure them ! Actually I think them a great production job and fantastic value. It is a cover you can clean off if necessary. But then I like a book that has travelled accumulated some memories !

        Some of the series have been written by guys whose first language is not English so either the writer or the editor has done a great job.

        The picture selection is down to the designer and the editor with the wine knowledge. I get shown layouts way down the line and try to point out anything that looks like a problem to me, but that’s rare. I’m not particularly good at predicting what makes the best cover, I just get wound up and off I go shooting anything I think makes a good picture. Because the cover is without text I don’t have to see it as cover and leave space for the words.

        The UCP California cover is the exception here. I had seen Charles O’Rear’s ( the king of wine photography ! ) Napa book and liked the graphic possibilities. As I was based nearby for two brief spells I shot it dawn and dusk three times ! So I guess I had an idea it might work. These jobs just go best when you submerge yourself in them and then pictures come out of nowhere, far too many for one book. But the main assignment is the portraits and often I don’t get to do my own schedule. Most days in Napa I was doing 6 a day, but everywhere is so close its no problem. No winemaker wants you under his feet for too long, especially around harvest. I guess the major problem is varying locations and “poses” when you have 50 portraits coming together like that. You’ll see some are whoe page vertical, some 1 1/2, some half page. Sometimes the space available for a picture dictates what gets used… words are the priority not the pictures.

        I’d finish by saying that while these books don’t have maps, they make a great companion for reading if you are touring and have time for a little homework before a visit. I really hope they encourage people to travel and meet these winemakers, they are special people.

  8. I just never get cover choices made by publishers. So often I see a cover and think, “Wow–that’s about as unattractive as they could possibly have made it!” But then–my taste doesn’t run “mainstream.”

    Given that so much in American marketing has to do with market surveys–they probably did some demographic research and found a survey somewhere that says, “American wine drinkers who like German wines are likely to experience positive connotations when viewing pictures of tractors.” Don’t you think?

    • Hahaha, that could be one way to interpret it…it would shed quite the light on what they think of wine drinkers in general, given that the whole series is based on that black background which I find so disturbing, may I say morbid? :)

  9. That’s great that it features your hometown prominently. I’m fascinated at the decision to make the US cover so different. The UK cover is superior the US with the only exception being there’s no indication in the picture that its about wine – no pic of the vineyard or bottle or glass. I agree the black background is ugly. It makes it look like those humorous Demotivational posters.

    • Oh man, you are SO right!! Nina loves these demotivational posters (one of the first things she emailed me after we met and wanted to get to know each other better was a list of 30 or so of her favorites), but I am vetoing “adorning” our living room with them, because of the black…

      There are in fact vineyards on the photo, in front of the church. The instagramed version does not show them well. And connaisseurs will know, that the Nackenheim Rothenberg is one of the prime hills in Rheinhessen…but only REALLY true connaissseurs will…:)

      The publishers at least on paper are different, which might explain the difference in cover (I have not checked whether Aurum Publishers and University of California Press are in fact seperate or belong to the same group)…it does not explain why the English cover is so much better…

  10. petervetsch says:

    Let me know how this was when you’re finished reading – I’ve been planning on buying it too! Cheers,

    Peter

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