Journeyman vigneron & wine-maker Donald Furrow-Scott writes novels about wine grapes through-out time and history. Decades of winemaking, as well as tasting room story-telling to hundreds of thousands of people, have helped Donald craft these novels into fictional adventures set in factual wine knowledge and richly detailed historical settings while flirting with wine fantasy.
The vigneron Donald Furrow-Scott has decades of experience as a full-time grape grower, cellar master, winemaker, and tasting room storyteller at his families’ estate vineyard, Hickory Hill Vineyards, on Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia. A quarter-million hand-corked bottles and personal tastings give an interesting perspective into the business, the history, and the tastes of the modern wine drinker.
The author Donald Furrow-Scott bottles the history of grape growing and winemaking into historical fiction novels spanning the centuries; stories with compelling notes of ancient legends and lingering hints of the supernatural. In the Wine’s Anvil chronology, the history of the Cabernet wine varietals comes to life through a series of memorable characters and their inspiring adventures.
Donald’s stories drop the over-pretentiousness that steeps so much of modern wine culture, favoring the ancient view of wine as the basic staple of life it was in history. Wine and religion share a lot of comparisons, not the least of which is the faith you place in the words of the person explaining them to you.
Computer; begin recording. Author’s Blog, Winter 2018
Very few drinkers in our tasting room want a lecture on the grapes and wine-making. Time and again over the decades one taster may be completely lock-eye mesmerized by the intricacies of some winery detail when my wife nudges me and says “Professor? There is no test here.” That’s when I realize the listener’s three other friends are glassy-eyed and trying to figure out how to use the corkscrew to slit their wrists.
Most casual tasters want the factoid nuggets; the History Channel version of wine trivia. But good storytelling hand sells wine. Some won’t remember the first wine sampled by the last wine in their glass and, like the stories, you hope the feeling they connect and leave with is what they really remember. My story-telling skills were born of twenty years of running Role-Play games like Dungeons & Dragons and Star Trek, coupled with explaining computer lingo with metaphors to non-computer people in the ’80s and ’90s. Layer on twenty more years of tasting rooms and wine festivals explaining grapes and wine to buzzed tasters. My writing slowly spanned the arc from table-top adventures to collaborative forum writer’s groups to explaining sensory taste reflexes to finally arrive back at adventure stories. Though orcs and phasers seem to only narrow a story-tellers audience, a glass of red wine contains many possible stories hidden within to reach a far broader audience.
I did not aspire to be a writer in my youth. Honestly, my handwriting is so poor it often requires a cipher to decrypt. Reading was very enjoyable to me, but I seemed to be faster at it than most classmates. Despite how that sounds, it caused me untold problems in my young life. Finally, a gifted English teacher deduced my handwriting slur as just like my reading: gluttonous impatience. Anything over three syllables and my brain had moved onto the next word. Thus, my writing looked like someone from a Monty Python skit who had died in midword, or Ori recording the drums in the deep. Deep breaths and slowing down, however, granted only very finite legibility to my handwriting. I had serious trouble writing and sharing my ideas.
Retreating deeper into reading adventures for many reasons, I began working in my high school library during study halls in the 1970s, and by my senior year, I was working three periods a day at the library desk. Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jules Verne, James Michener, and Joseph Conrad were authors who inspired my thoughts. I still remember helping a classmate with her Tolkien book report and thinking to myself what an odd series of books she was reading. It would be several more years before I read it myself.
After graduation, fantasy and science fiction fueled a passionate interest in medieval history and astronomy, and I attended college classes and collected hundreds of used books on the subjects. All my writing woes changed when I entered the budding computer industry in 1981. Wordperfect & Ami Pro let me legibly share my thoughts and imagination, and in unusually creative ways. I could type faster and more legibly than handwrite, and spellcheck became my straight man. I was surrounded by computers and printers with 24/7 access to indulge in my writing. Thru the 1980s business management taught me the repetitious cranking out of monthly reports, sales add copy, and creating & navigating computer billboards. Mastering adventure gaming perfected and refined my storytelling skills to entertain others, and word processing let me craft mini-books to set the game stages.
The Web forever altered the landscape of communication in the 1990s, and being neck-deep in the personal computer world of small business I got a great seat from which to watch it unfold. My stories now flowed over glowing pages. Cooperative fanfic writers groups provided encouragement, sandboxes for ideas, and a drumbeat rhythm for a daily writing routine.
By the turn of the millennium I had married into a winery family, and, quite unexpectedly, left the non-stop, light-speed world of computers for the peaceful world of seasonal grapevines. That marriage had a profound effect on every aspect of my life.
Small wineries are all about the story, and wine is the spell-caster in those transcendental moments. I knew how to tell a story well, and listened closely as others told me more stories back.
Thus a past of writing about time, decades of wine industry exposure, and research have led to the creation of the Wine’s Anvil series.