Story Inspiration: Wine Country Chainsaw Massacre

I recently found these comments from Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen about their inspiration for Late Harvest Havoc

There is a story behind this particular Benjamin Cooker adventure. We were in Alsace researching and already had a specific plot in mind. However, when we arrived in Colmar, a story was plastered all over the front page of the local papers. The backdrop was the Alsatian vineyard, and some madman was attacking the vinestock at night, destroying the best vines. It was a local chainsaw massacre or sorts. We didn't need much pushing to change our initial story idea. Then we spent some time in Colmar reworking the case into the story that became Late Harvest Havoc. This wasn't the first time that a local news story inspired us, but it was by far the most original one. 

Alsace: between the lines and the vines

The latest Winemaker Detective book, Late Harvest Havoc takes place in Alsace. I love Strasbourg as a city, and regret that I haven't spent time in the region's many vineyards. When the TV series episode was being shot some time ago, I spoke to Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen, and they mentioned two men from that region who bring together two of our hero Benjamin Cooker’s passions: books and wine.

  • Frédéric Versolato, who for thirty years worked for France’s largest bookseller the Fnac running stores in Colmar, Mulhouse and Bâle, started up his own independent bookstore at the age of 54—a fine challenge for a book lover. His bookstore, 47° Nord (Maison Engelmann, 8b Rue du Moulin), is located in the center of Mulhouse, part of efforts to bring more activity to the downtown area.
  • Romain Iltis is a native of the valley of Munster and a former student at the Guebwiller and Illkirch hotel schools. He won the coveted Best Sommelier of France award. He is an ardent defender of Alsatian wines, and is also open to other regions and more “exotic” wines. After working several years at La Verte Vallée in Munster, he was sommelier at Arnsbourg, the three Michelin-star restaurant in Baerenthal, Lorraine, and in 2015, he joined La Cilla René Lalique.
Alsatian wines