Isabella DaSilva, a fiery grad student from Cornell's wine program is eager to leave her past behind her and forge a future in the vineyards of the West as an apprentice at Chateau Sauvage, a winery seeking to produce wine like no other California wineries had so far -- Rhone varietals.
She arrives at Chateau Sauvage to find that wine might not be her only interest. The winemaker, Jonathan Sauvage, is tall, dark, and handsome, and clearly in need of help. Together, they work to make a pioneering wine in an effort to keep the struggling winery afloat. Each struggles with their demons -- hers in the form of a painful and mysterious past; his created by memories of what once might have been. In the process, they find that the pain of their shattered pasts fit together perfectly, making their union as perfect as the wine it produces.
A Rare Vintage features an intense and commanding hero who isn’t afraid to ask for help, and a woman who knows that while she might technically be the apprentice, she has plenty to teach Jonathan Sauvage.
This book is the first in the Wine Country Romance series.
Delancey Stewart is the author of Through a Dusty Window: New York City Stories 1910-2001 and A Rare Vintage, the first in her Wine Country Romance Series. A Rare Vintage releases on May 31st.
She is also working on the Girlfriends of Gotham Series for Swoon Romance. The first book, Men and Martinis, will be released in fall 2013.
Stewart has lived on both coasts, in big cities and small towns. She's been a pharmaceutical rep, a personal trainer and a direct sales representative for a French wine importer. Beyond all that, she has always been a writer in some way shape or form.
A military spouse and the mother of two small boys, her current job titles include pirate captain, monster hunter, Lego assembler and story reader. She tackles all these efforts at her current home in Southern Maryland.
Isabella removed herself from the back of the four-wheeler as they pulled back up outside the barn. She'd had her body practically wrapped around Jonathan's for the better part of the day as they'd toured the vineyard, and she felt as though she'd been trying to hold back a tidal wave with a teaspoon as she sat behind him, their bodies pressed tightly together. She'd had to restrain herself to keep from laying her head against his strong broad back; had to remind herself that the tan neck was not hers to kiss, the dark hair on the nape of the neck that was just beginning to curl there was not hers to finger. There was something about him, his strength and his silence, that drew her to him.
They'd eaten a hurried lunch of packed fruit and cheese as they looked around the fields, making notes of how things were developing and jotting down best guesses at when harvests would occur in the fall. Isabella felt overwhelmed, but it was a welcome sensation after so many months of uncertainty. Departing New York had been an emotional necessity, but until now, she wasn't sure just where she would belong once she had put that place behind her.
Inside the barn, Jonathan went to a low cabinet at the back of the room and pulled out the thieves—the long tubes they'd use to pull wine from the barrels. He bent down again and found the cups they'd use for tasting.
"Shall we try the Grenache first?" he asked.
Isabella felt excitement rising in her. This was why she wanted to make wine—she thrilled at the idea of taking the raw product of the fields and turning it into something magnificent.
"So this is the 1988," Jonathan said, tapping the last year's huge Grenache barrels. "I'm worried that I've left it too long."
Isabella raised the glass to her lips, letting the vapors rise to meet her nose, closing her eyes and seeing the warm sun, the transformation from the fat ripe grape on the vine to the living juice in the barrel. She swirled the glass, letting the oxygen mix with the juice and watching the color darken slightly. Finally, she took a small sip on her tongue, breathing deeply through her nose and letting the wine oxidize further on her palate. She rolled it around her mouth, and swallowed, eyes still shut. She noted the lingering finish on her tongue, around the sides of her mouth.
She opened her eyes to find Jonathan staring at her openly.
She smiled, and felt her embarrassment at being watched creep up the sides of her face.
"What do you think?" he asked, the amusement still evident in the crinkles at the sides of his eyes, the laugh lines around his mouth.
"It's not bad," she said, pushing her embarrassment aside. "It's not flabby, so I don't think you've left it too long. There's a decent amount of structure to build on here. There’s some good fruit and a bit of berry. I guess it's all gonna depend on what you've got in the Syrah."
"Let's find out," he said, leading her across the room.
The long hot day in the fields turned into the kind of afternoon that Isabella had dreamed about during her studies. Reading about wine and theory, and tasting in cold supervised classrooms was one thing; actually feeling the raw product in her mouth, sensing the way that the grapes would develop and express themselves was something else.