I am very excited to announce that my new book, Tangled Vines: Greed, Murder, Obsession and an Arsonist in the Vineyards of California will be published on Oct. 6, 2015 by St. Martin’s Press.
I have been working on this book since late 2009, ever since I wrote a story for the New York Times about an arsonist who destroyed 4.5 million bottles of fine California wine worth more than $250 million. The culprit set fire to a wine warehouse in Vallejo in October 2005. Four years later, he was about to go to trial for the crime.
It was only later that I realized that 175 bottles of wine made by my great great grandfather Isaias Hellman in 1875 in Rancho Cucamonga were burned up in that fire. I had long wanted to write about Hellman’s involvement in wine. For my first book, Towers of Gold, I had examined Hellman’s role in the banking industry, as well as other endeavors, but I had glossed over his role as a wine maker and businessman. I realized in 2010 that I might have my next book topic – an examination of the arson, the largest involving wine in history, with a special focus on that 130-year old bottle and how it came to be.