Crush (Hardcover)

The Triumph of California Wine

By John Briscoe

University of Nevada Press, 9781943859498, 368pp.

Publication Date: September 4, 2018

List Price: 34.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Look. Smell. Taste. Judge. Crush is the 200-year story of the heady dream that wines as good as the greatest of France could be made in California. A dream dashed four times in merciless succession until it was ultimately realized in a stunning blind tasting in Paris. In that tasting, in the year of America's bicentennial, California wines took their place as the leading wines of the world.

For the first time, Briscoe tells the complete and dramatic story of the ascendancy of California wine in vivid detail. He also profiles the larger story of California itself by looking at it from an entirely innovative perspective, the state seen through its singular wine history.

With dramatic flair and verve, Briscoe not only recounts the history of wine and winemaking in California, he encompasses a multidimensional approach that takes into account an array of social, political, cultural, legal, and winemaking sources. Elements of this history have plot lines that seem scripted by a Sophocles, or Shakespeare. It is a fusion of wine, personal histories, cultural, and socioeconomic aspects.

Crush is the story of how wine from California finally gained its global due. Briscoe recounts wine’s often fickle affair with California, now several centuries old, from the first harvest and vintage, through the four overwhelming catastrophes, to its amazing triumph in Paris.

About the Author

John Briscoe is a San Francisco poet, author, and lawyer. A noted wine and food writer, he is the author of Tadich Grill: The Story of San Francisco’s Oldest Restaurant.

Praise For Crush: The Triumph of California Wine

...this book is a compelling read fashioned with a skilled writer's ability to weave facts and colorful tales into an epic story.

— Wine Spectator

"essential history for wine aficionados."

— Kirkus

"Delivers a comprehensive history and fascinating read; it is a true celebration of the persistence of the California vignerons throughout the ages, their battles with adversity to make the region's wines some of the best in the world today. Highly recommended!"

— The Columbia Review

"The history in this book pops right off the page...For those who are passionate about food culture in America or the history of California, the character and detail in this book is something that can’t be missed."

— The US Review of Books

" impressive compendium of research..."

— Santa Fe New Mexican

"Crush is a hopeful saga, with the forces of oenophilia winning out in the end as California wines enter the pantheon of the world’s fine wines. It’s a tale written with panache and wry opinions, and is a smooth introduction to five centuries of California history, as seen through the curved lens of a wine glass."

— Foreword Reviews

"...vivid and passionate..."

— The Literary West