- Start off meeting the Rothschild family, prisoners of war and world-famous bankers behind the “First of Firsts,” Château Lafite Rothschild. Learn why a bottle of the 1787 vintage was sold for $160,000 US dollars or why the Maréchal de Richelieu was convinced that drinking Château Lafite was the secret to eternal youth.
- Head down to Italy to meet the Antinori family, for the first time, under female leadership since making wine for 26 generations. Learn about the connection between the Antinoris and the Medicis, through the story of the murderous Pietro de Medici.
- Learn about the French wine classification system and Château d’Yquem, the only Premier Cru Superieur, a wine made from what the French call pourriture noble or noble rot, and whose grapes are harvested only by women.
- Travel to Spain to meet María José Lépez de Heredia of Viña Tondonia, whose family is known for ageing their wine in barrel for 10-20 years, longer than most, and for refusing to adopt new technologies in their vineyards and winery.
- Get introduced to Bill Harlan, an adventurer and real estate mogul mentored by Robert Mondavi, who has a 200-year plan to make a Grand Cru and create a European-style wine dynasty in America.
- Travel back to the 18th Century and witness the fight between a Prince and a Marquise, for the ownership of the exquisite Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. Meet current owner Aubert de Villaine, who spearheaded the effort to turn the Burgundy wine region into a World Heritage Site.
- Hike the hills of the Mosel in Germany, and understand why its slate soils yield some of the most age-worthy wines in the world from the Riesling variety, born in the Middle Ages.
- Understand biodynamic winemaking through the eyes of the late Anne-Claude Leflaive, who inspired generations of winemakers around the world to stop using pesticides in their vineyards.
- Experience the magic from the old vines of the Henschke family, who fled religious persecution in Prussia, and founded Australia’s most celebrated vineyard, Hill of Grace.
- Defy the norms with rule-breaking Italian winemaker Angelo Gaja and his daughter Gaia Gaja, known for bringing about the renaissance of Italy’s Barolo region and the Nebbiolo variety.
- Dive into the dream of a farmer boy Etienne Guigal, who grew up wanting to make wine as a child, and through hard work and fanatical devotion to winemaking created one of France’s most collected wines in the Rhône Valley’s terraced vineyards.
- Finish with the story of Dr. Laura Catena’s family, Italian immigrants to Argentina, who discovered a magical new place for wine at high altitude in the Andes mountains, and made the Malbec variety famous around the world.
A Harvard and Stanford trained biologist and physician, Dr. Laura Catena was born into one of the world’s great wine families.
In her journey to elevate Argentine wine, Laura became obsessed with understanding what lies behind the most collected wines in the world.
After publishing Argentina’s definitive wine guide, Vino Argentino (Chronicle Books, 2010), Laura began to put together the materials for a book that would highlight the historical circumstances and relevant vineyard details that are at the core of the world’s most iconic wines.
This book is the result of 25 years of Laura’s research into wine history, interviews and meetings with the world’s best-known wine families, and vineyard studies at the Catena Institute of Wine, which she founded in 1995. Dr. Laura Catena has been named one of the top 25 wine innovators by Grape Collective, and has been an invited speaker at Wine Spectator’s New York Wine Experience, the Nantucket Food and Wine Festival, the Naples Winter Wine Festival, the MUST Summit, the Master of Wine Symposium, the American Society of Wine Educators, the Decanter Fine Wine Encounter in London and Shanghai, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Vancouver Playhouse, among others.
She has appeared in Oprah magazine as one of the World’s Top Women Vintners. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Food & Wine Magazine, Decanter, and The Economist 1843 magazine, among others. She has a robust social media following on Instagram (@LauraCatenaMD) and Twitter (@lauracatena).