Most people know Russ Kane as VintageTexas, the self-proclaimed Texas Wine Czar. @VintageTexas is his Twitter name and accordingly he writes a blog called Vintage Texas in which he imparts his knowledge of Texas wines and his experiences traveling throughout Texas and other wine regions in the United States.
I was visiting a Texas winery near the start of my winery visits and after talking to the winemaker for a while, he said I should really follow Vintage Texas as I would learn a lot. That is exactly what I did and indeed I have learned quite a bit from reading Russ’s Vintage Texas blog.
I learned Russ Kane also lives in Houston and since that time we have run into each other occasionally and had fun getting together for events such as #TXwine Twitter Tuesday. Russ wrote a book called The Wineslinger Chronicles Texas on the Vine and he told me about it before it was available for sale.
Russ explained he started the Vintage Texas blog in 2008 primarily as an exercise to write. He soon realized the stories he posted there could be the basis for a book. Russ worked on a book proposal and received a book contract in 2009 with Texas Tech University Press. He finished writing the book at the end of 2010. The next year was spent editing the book back and forth with the publisher. The Wineslinger Chronicles has been out for a year and has been getting rave reviews from Texas wine lovers. I often see it in Texas winery gift shops too.
I ordered the book when it was first published and was lucky to get it signed by Russ Kane. I’ll admit that I have quite a few books at home waiting to be read, however most of them I have listened to the audiobook version. The Wineslinger Chronicles fortunately comes as an eBook for which I also ended up buying that version. The eBook for Kindle on an iPad makes it easier to read for me, especially when on the treadmill which gives me time to read.
In the book, Russ talks about the Spanish origins of Texas wine, the history of Texas winemaking, and includes stories of modern day growers and entrepreneurs with his travels around the state. Besides the history being very interesting, it is also nice when you have met some of the people in person he discusses and can then understand their backgrounds. I got to the end of the book and wanted more!
I asked Russ how the book has been doing in the past year. He said, “I think it’s been an interesting ride over the past year. I didn’t know what to expect because it’s a different kind of book than people have written about Texas wineries and wine previously. I am rather pleased because it’s a book which I call the heart and soul of the industry. It talks about the people, the times, places, and a little history that allow people interested in Texas wine right now to perhaps understand it a little better. The book on grape growing and making wine in Texas hadn’t really been written yet, so I tried to explain this to people and I think the response has been very good.”
“For the first six months of last year when the book was released, it was the fastest selling book out of the blocks that Texas Tech University Press has ever had. Before the book even came out Texas Tech University Press made it part of their historical book series. I heard recently that it’s been nominated for an award at the Texas Institute of Letters. I think it’s a literary book and a storybook that I think helps people understand the heart, soul, grit, and determination of the people in the Texas wine industry.”
If you have any interest in Texas wine and the history of Texas wine, I would highly recommend ordering your copy. The book is available for ordering at most online bookstores and you can even order an autographed copy directly from Russ Kane himself at his website http://wineslinger.net. If there are any wineries or businesses interested in having Russ do a book signing at events such as a dinner or wine club event, please contact him at the same website http://wineslinger.net.
Article by Jeff Cope, Texas Wine Lover for Texas Wine and Trail Magazine
Feature photo by Cody Duty, Houston Chronicle.