• In the Vine Country
  • In the Vine Country
  • Format:Paperback
  • ISBN:9781913141141
  • Publication Date:18-06-2021
  • Pages:147

In the Vine Country

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross

In the Vine Country

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‘A comparison with [Redmond] O’Hanlon isn’t that far-fetched: there are the same helpful mishaps, use of the travelling companion as butt, and lightly worn knowledge …also an essential traveller’s brio, a delight in the encounter with landscape and locals.’
Julian Barnes

‘It paints a glorious picture of Bordeaux, as seen through the skittish and mischievously observant eyes of Somerville and Ross ….’ Victoria Moore, The Daily Telegraph

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JOURNEYING THROUGH THE MEDOC in the autumn of 1891, Anglo-Irish cousins and travelling companions, Edith Somerville and Martin Ross (aka Violet Florence Martin) bring their distinctive mélange of wry wit, acute observation and unabashed horror at the barefoot treading of Cabernet Sauvignon to this delightful account of vendangeurs lofty and low-born as they bring in the harvest in time-honoured fashion. Illustrated using Somerville’s equally delightful sketches, this is a story of two feisty ladies for whom anything remotely pretentious is fair game.

Better known for their tales of an Irish R. M. (resident magistrate), which were adapted into a successful TV series starring Peter Bowles, Somerville and Ross outraged their respective families – who referred to them ‘the Shockers’ – by combining travel writing with the fight for Women’s Suffrage. The contrast between the emancipated pair and the largely unreconstructed characters they encounter on their travels only serves to heighten the charm of an already indelibly charming book.



The Classic Editions breathe new life into some of the finest wine-related titles written in the English language over the last 150 years. Although these books are very much products of their time – a time when the world of fine wine was confined mostly to the frontiers of France and the Iberian Peninsula and a First Growth Bordeaux or Grand Cru Burgundy wouldn't be beyond the average purse – together they recapture a world of convivial, enthusiastic amateurs and larger-than-life characters whose love of fine vintages mirrored that of life itself. Many of the titles are still much in demand, as a glance on Amazon will show. The Académie du Vin Library is proud to be republishing them, along with insightful introductions by our favourite wine writers of the present day.


Additional information

  • Weight 0.551 kg
  • Dimensions 153 x 216 mm
Edith Anna Oenone Somerville was born in 1858 on the island of Corfu into a wealthy Anglo-Irish family, but grew up in Castletownshend, County Cork. A talented artist and a passionate horsewoman, she later studied art in Dublin, Paris and London. In 1886 she met her second cousin Violet Martin and a year later they formed a close friendship and literary partnership. Their first novel, An Irish Cousin, was published in 1889, with Martin adopting the pseudonym “Martin Ross”. The pair went on to write 14 books together before Martin’s untimely death in 1915. After the First World War, Somerville continued to write under their joint pen names in the belief that she was able to communicate with her late cousin through spirit mediums. She died in her home town of Castletownshend in 1949 at the age of 91.

‘The books that taught me about wine were about places and people. It’s the history and stories about a wine that bring it to life and make it worth talking about.’

– Steven Spurrier