Review: The Winemakers by Jan Moran

Title: The Winemakers by Jan Moran
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Historical, Fiction
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher


A young woman
A family secret
A devastating truth that could destroy the man she loves

Many years ago, the Rosetta family’s hard-won dreams of staking their claim in the vineyards of California came to fruition. Now high-spirited, passionate Caterina Rosetta, who has inherited both her mother’s talent for crafting the finest wines and also her indomitable will, wants nothing more than to win her mother’s approval and wo rk at her side. But that can never happen, because Caterina is keeping a secret that could ruin her: a daughter of her own, fathered by the love of her life, who left her without explanation. Just as she feels she has nowhere to turn, Caterina discovers that she has inherited a vineyard in the Tuscan countryside in Italy, from a grandmother she’s never heard of, and she seizes the chance to start a new life for herself and her child.

But the past is not so easily outrun. In the country of her ancestors, Caterina meets the family of the father she never knew, and discovers that her mother is also hiding her own secret―a secret so devastating it threatens the future of everything her family has worked for. As an old murder comes to light, and Caterina uncovers a tragedy that may destroy the man she loves, she realizes her happiness will depend on revealing the truth of her mother’s buried past―if she has the strength to face it.

From author Jan Moran comes The Winemakers, a sweeping, romantic novel that will hold you in its grasp until the last delicious sip.


With an interesting cast of characters, a fascinating plot, a forbidden romance and a slight mystery element, The Winemakers by Jan Moran is an engrossing historical novel about a Napa Valley vintner whose secrets from the late 1920s come to light during the mid 1950s.

Caterina Rosetta dreads telling her beautiful and accomplished mother, Ava, about her now one year old daughter, Marisa.  Now having to face the harsh reality of keeping her illegitimate baby, Caterina can no longer keep the news from Ava and just as she feared, her revelation is met with anger and demands she give Marisa up for adoption.  Immediately following their heated argument, Caterina is stunned to learn she has inherited a cottage and vineyard in Tuscany from her paternal grandmother.  This discovery is just the first of many secrets that she learns her mother has been keeping from her and Caterina travels to Italy searching for answers to the questions about her family’s past.

Caterina never planned to be an unwed mother but her attempts to tell Marisa’s father about the pregnancy were unsuccessful.  Brokenhearted, she managed to find a wonderful home where she found a very supportive and understanding couple to help her through this difficult time.  From discussions she and her mother had over the years, Caterina knows exactly how her mom will react, so she feels like she has no choice but to keep the news of the pregnancy and subsequent birth to herself.  Unfortunately Ava’s reaction is exactly what she expected and with very few options available, she feels that moving to Italy with Marisa is the perfect opportunity for a fresh start. However, she is almost immediately confronted by unexpected revelations about her family and she is bewildered by her mother’s lies. Learning the truth about her father is difficult but her hopes for the future are shattered once Caterina hears the rumors everyone believes are true about her father and another woman.

Ava’s past is tragic but she worked hard make the Napa Valley vineyard a success.  She truly believed she made the right decision to conceal the truth about her husband and she never expected her lies to be uncovered.  Now regretting those long ago decisions, Ava is overcome with guilt for her angry outbursts during Caterina’s childhood. She also realizes that while she had good intentions, she did not always treat her daughter fairly.  Ava is deeply remorseful for her somewhat irrational reaction to Caterina’s announcement about Marisa and she fears her relationship with Caterina will never recover.  As she is trying to figure out a way to smooth over their relationship, a calamitous event threatens to destroy the vineyard.  When a person from her past returns, Ava lives in fear of what will happen to her beloved home.

The Winemakers is a multi-layered story that takes place in both California and Italy. Both settings are picturesque and the beautiful descriptions bring them vibrantly to life.  Through a series of flashbacks, the heartbreaking events from Ava’s past are slowly revealed throughout the course of the novel. Caterina’s storyline is equally compelling as she uncovers the truth about her family while attempting to make a difficult decision about her future.  Jan Moran’s extensive research adds a layer of authenticity to the plot and provides readers with an eye-opening glimpse of societal issues of the time period.  Although a little melodramatic and a little rushed, the novel’s conclusion is quite heartwarming. 

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1 Comment

Filed under Fiction, Historical, Historical (20s), Historical (50s), Jan Moran, Rated B, Review, St Martin's Griffin, The Winemakers

One Response to Review: The Winemakers by Jan Moran

  1. Timitra

    Thanks Kathy