Blood from a Stone
"This is the story of how wine brought me back from the dead."
Thus begins Adam McHugh's transition through the ending of one career—as a hospice chaplain and grief counselor—into the discovery of a new life in wine among the grapevines of the Santa Ynez Valley of California.
"This is the corkscrewing tale of how I got to Santa Ynez, eventually, and the questions that came up along the way," he continues. "You and I are going to take a long wine tour together on our way there, and we will make plenty of stops for a glass and some local wine history. As you will see, I reached into the old, old story of wine in order to find my new story, which begins, as so many wine love stories do, in the French countryside. Most stories about religion and drink are stories of recovery. I'm not sure if mine isn't a story about recovery too."
Adam's story is one of being forced to reevaluate and remake his life when things fell apart. But more than that, it's a story about finding healing through the good gifts of wine, friends, and the beauty of wine country. Pour a glass and join the adventure from the south of France to Champagne to the California Central Coast.
"Adam McHugh is one of the most effortlessly funny writers I know. In his new work, Blood from a Stone, Adam combines his wit with a tender vulnerability to tell a story as poignant as it is funny."
"For an avowed introvert, Adam McHugh lets it all hang out in Blood from a Stone, a very personal, soul-searching tale about a dying career, difficult divorce, and ultimately, inspiring rebirth thanks to Santa Barbara County wine country. Along the way, McHugh educates the reader in an engaging, accessible manner about the great sagas of wine, both those from Old World antiquity and more recent stories from the Santa Ynez Valley. This book should entertain wine neophytes and experts alike, or just about anyone who's pulling for the underdog."
"A sparkling delight, laced with deep and earthy emotion but ultimately finished with notes of hope and love. In Blood from a Stone, Adam McHugh gives us a cultural history of wine alongside his own story, letting us taste the cycles of grief, darkness, and joy that mark every life. With good humor and hard-won depth, he coaxes us toward the attentiveness that great wine, and great writing, can foster—and the result is nothing short of wonderful."
"What a treat to read a wine book about something other than 'tasting notes.' Who cares whether you find that a wine smells like cherries or berries or Ethiopian coffee beans? How boring! Adam McHugh is after a more interesting game. History, religion, and his passion for one of his God's greatest gifts, for example. Page by page his wine pilgrimage, as he calls it, grows more interesting, humorous, and soulful."
"Adam McHugh is a gifted storyteller and has created not only a wonderful tour guide through the rich history of wine but also a guidebook toward salvation and purpose from the depths of human misery and despair. As creatures with feelings, we can all relate by personal experience to his emotional love story. Anyone with an interest in wine, history, and culture will find his writing entertaining and provocative. Thank you, Adam, for baring your soul to remind us we are all pilgrims on the labyrinthine trail toward eternal and internal peace, love, and harmony; and thank you for bringing us back to the importance of humility, compassion, and sympathy in our daily living."
"Adam McHugh's stunning memoir, Blood from a Stone, brings a sideways beatitude: Blessed are the lonely, the detached, the fired, the tired, and the spiritually hungry. They will see God if they're paying attention and willing to be surprised. Read, savor, and listen for the low hum of deep faith in this personal story of a man who writes with a keen awareness of grief and a self-deprecating honesty. You'll leave with a renewed longing for food and meaning, cheese and history, and wine you can't pronounce."
1. Wine Happens
2. The Way of Van Gogh
3. Feast Day
4. The Train to Champagne
5. A Sense of Place
6. Blood from a Stone
7. The Dark Night of the Soul
8. The Sideways Effect
9. The King's Highway
10. The Fairytale
11. The Last Stop
12. The Beast of Burden
14. The Healing Place
15. The Parade
16. The Story of Soil