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Michele Chiarlo and his grapes, Piedmont, Italy. (Photo credit: Giuseppe Fiorentino in A Year in the Vineyard)

Wine writer Sophie Menin’s new book A Year in the Vineyard, written with co-author Bob Chaplin, hits shelves today and for anyone out there who’s wine-curious (and maybe even if you’re not), this beautiful, linen-bound treasure is a four-season deep but very approachable, arm-chair travel dive into the simple and not-so-simple notion of: Where does your wine come from?

It’s not your average wine book, though. No dry treatise on rootstock and cellar work, acid levels and brix, A Year in the Vineyard is a journey around the world, from the peaceful, slumbering vines on the western slope of Mount Lebanon to the precise down-to-the-moment biodynamic boosts given to vineyards in Burgunland, Austria days before harvest to 100-year-old vines growing in the volcanic soil of an abandoned vineyard in the Canary Islands, and all other wonderful places of wine growing and making in between.

“It took a long time to find a publisher because it’s not a particular guide to anything,” laughs Menin, who grew up spending summers in Bridgehampton and now divides her time between here and New York City.

But that’s not quite true — it’s certainly a guide to where the wine world is headed on its best days (including a well-earned shout-out to Channing Daughters in Bridgehampton on pp. 72 and 73). From winter to spring, summer to fall, it’s a guide to why vino is made, as the experts say, in the vineyard — and why that matters.

We got to talk with Menin about her and Chaplin’s beautiful tome (get it at BookHampton or, better yet, have them sign a copy for your at the East Hampton Library’s “Author’s Night” on August 10) that was 10 years in the making, how climate change is altering what’s in your glass and what it’s like to spend your formative years on the East End among other things. Here’s some of what she had to say.

Domaine Blain-Gagnard, Chassagne-Montrachet, Burgundy, France. (Photo credit: Jon Wyand in A Year in the Vineyard)

SOUTHFORKER: This is a bit of an unusual wine book — it’s easily a lovely addition on a coffee table, but it’s more than that with the way you intertwined the writing and the visuals, and all the beautiful, eye-opening stories about how wine is made, from vineyard to bottle. How did you and Bob Chaplin create the idea for it?

SOPHIE MENIN: I’ve had the idea for a very long time. It started when the Daily Beast first began, and I was writing for them. I wanted to do a food and wine column called “100 Summer Nights” about those meals that only happen during the summer, and the part of the column that captured my imagination was tracing the vines through the summer season with a winery in Burgundy. A couple of years ago on a press trip to Walla Walla [WA] I met wine writer Bob Chaplin, who was with the Hartford Courant. I told him my idea and we talked and talked and decided to collaborate. It started as mine but now it’s very much our book; a melding of our skill sets and visions.

SF: The beautiful visuals and text really tell a story from start to finish without overexplaining. Why did you go in this direction?

SM: There’s an old book I love by the writer Studs Terkel, Hard Times, about the Great Depression. It doesn’t give history; it gives stories. They’re first-person accounts, and you can’t help but read one after another and through that you really understand the Great Depression. When you read our book, you realize that, for the most part, they’re not my words. I tried to keep it as much as possible in the voice and narrative of the vignerons and wine growers. They’re telling stories. They don’t talk in jargon because they live the experience. I think that really helped to bring an intimacy to it.

SF: Climate change is at best unsettling in general; for the wine world it can be downright devastating. But it can also mean that grapes can now grow in places they never did. What do you find through your global exploration were the most negative and positive examples of that?

SB: I think the best of it is a consciousness that we have to live differently. That it’s not just something philosophical that we should do because it makes us feel virtuous. It’s something we need to do and need to rethink our relationship with the planet to preserve our way of life. And this is where I’m grateful to Ted Lemon, winemaker of Littorai [in Sebastopol, CA]. We ended our book with this quote of his: “Our long-term goal with the redwoods is to transform this riparian ecosystem in a way that brings more biodiversity and moisture even in times of drought. We know cannot reproduce the planet of the 1700s. That world is long gone. We must generate a new way of living and, to do this, we must generate a new way of farming.” If climate change brings about that way of thinking that we’re working with nature to create a more sustainable planet, that’s a silver lining without a doubt.

SF: Bringing it all back home, do you have a favorite local winery?

SB: I’m a huge fan of Channing Daughters — that’s why they’re in the book!