Dandelion Dead: A Natural Remedies Mystery
Pocket Books (September 27, 2016)
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
In a cozy mystery filled with natural cures and edible plants that you will love, an organic winery becomes the backdrop for murder! Fortunately, solving crimes comes naturally to charmingly unconventional amateur sleuth and holistic doctor, Willow McQuade, as she looks for clues that will reveal a killer’s true vintage.
Business is blooming at Nature’s Way Market & Café, and shop owner, holistic doctor, and amateur sleuth, Willow McQuade has never been happier. Her new medicinal herb garden is a hit, so is her new book, she’s in love with ex-cop and animal rescuer Jackson Spade, and enjoying teaching seminars about edible plants and natural remedies.
But everything changes when Willow’s old boyfriend and TV producer, Simon Lewis, winemaker David Farmer, and his wife Ivy, ask her to cater a party at Pure, their new organic vineyard, to kick off North Fork’s Uncorked! week and the competition for Wine Lovers magazine’s $200,000 prize. Pure’s entry, Falling Leaves, is the favorite to win, and the wine flows freely until after Simon’s toast when smiles give way to looks of horror. Ivy’s twin sister, Amy has been murdered! Turns out, the poison that killed her was actually meant for David. But who wants him dead? A rival vintner? Or someone closer to home? This time the truth may be a bitter vintage to swallow.
The Pleasures & Health Benefits of Organic Wine
By Chrystle Fiedler
In Dandelion Dead, the fourth book in my natural remedies series, Simon Lewis, a very successful TV producer and ex-BF of Willow McQuade, has decided to open an organic winery. He bought the vineyard, Pure. with David Farmer, a talented winemaker and his wife, Ivy Lord who manages the tasting room. Pure is next door to Willow’s boyfriend Jackson Spade who is now running a much needed animal sanctuary.
The North Fork of Long Island where I live – head East from NYC and keep going for 2 hours and you’ll find it — and where the natural remedies book series takes place, has become a mecca for wine makers and wine lovers. What makes Pure special is that Simon, David and Ivy have turned it into an organic, sustainable winery using biodynamic methods and native yeast, powered only by wind and sun. No sulfites, or genetically engineered yeast or yeast nutrients.
It seems that Willow inspired Simon to go natural, and the benefits are worth it. In fact, new research out of UC Davis shows that organic fruits and berries have up to fifty-eight percent higher natural antioxidants than nonorganic do.
As Willow says to him:
“Organic farming is really just so much better for the earth and for people,” I said. “I’m proud of you for going in this direction, Simon.”
Out here, only a few vineyards have gone organic. One of the most successful is Shinn Estate Vineyards and Farmhouse owned by Barbara Shinn and David Page, and was my inspiration for Pure. The Shinn wines have been praised across the country by publications including the New York Times, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Food and Wine and Bon Appetit. Fodor’s was so impressed that it named Shinn Estate Vineyards as one of the top 6 Great American Wine Country Harvest Getaways.
In the fall, when Dandelion Dead takes place, all of our vineyards are especially busy as lots of people both locally, and the surrounding area, take a trip to taste and purchase wine. I have my eye on a bottle of 2015 First Fruit Sauvignon Blanc from the Shinn Estate Vineyards. At $22, it’s an affordable, treat! I like to sip wine in my backyard while sitting in my Adirondack chair as the sun begins to set and read a cozy mystery!
In Dandelion Dead, I’ve tried to make wine talk as authentic as possible, while weaving it into the mystery. This scene, where David Farmer talks about the history of winemaking is a good example:
By eight o’clock David had already covered gravity-fed winemaking, and how natural vineyard yeast fermentation worked, and was finishing up with the barrel-aging of wine. He walked over to the barrels that were stacked along the wall.
“Oak is an essential aspect of winemaking—from the type of barrel that is used to the size, age, grain, and treatment of the oak barrel, it all affects the way the finished wine tastes. And we have the Romans to thank for this.
“Before this, way back to the ancient Egyptians, clay amphorae were used to store and transport wine.” He pulled out his phone and pulled up a photo of an ancient clay pot and showed it to the crowd. “But as the Roman Empire marched north into Europe this process didn’t work so well. But then they met the Gauls, who used oak barrels to transport their beer.” David’s phone rang.
“Excuse, me.” David flipped a toggle. “Sorry, I should have put that on vibrate.”
The crowd laughed.
“Back to the Gauls. Now, not only was the oak tree easy to find in Europe, oak was softer, easier, and faster to bend, and waterproof because of the tighter grain. It also made the wine taste much better, giving it a smoother texture and imparting accents of spices like cloves and cinnamon, and flavors such as vanilla. The longer the wine remained in the barrels, the better it tasted. This fact transformed the way wine was made and enjoyed. Any questions?” David went to put the phone into his pocket, but something stopped him.
“What do you do to give Pure’s wine a distinctive flavor?”
David kept staring at the screen.
Finally Simon said, “David?”
“Uh, I can’t give away all of our secrets.” David handed the phone to Scott Peters, his bodyguard, who stood behind him. “But I can tell you that the principles used by the Romans are very much in use today, but I don’t know why someone is doing this. . . .” David stepped back.
“Let’s go,” Peters said, and took David by the arm and led him toward the door.
* * * * *
Now you’re wondering what happens next right? Well, you’ll have to get a copy of Dandelion Dead to find out! As you can see, I think that a glass of wine and a new book make for a very nice break from the everyday! I’ll see you in the wine aisle!
About the Author
CHRYSTLE FIEDLER is a freelance journalist specializing in natural remedies, alternative medicine and holistic health and healing, and is the author of the Natural Remedies Mysteries series. Her many consumer magazine articles have appeared in USA Today’s Green Living, Natural Health, Remedy, Mother Earth Living, Spirituality & Health, and Prevention. She is also the author/co-author of seven non-fiction health titles including the Country Almanac of Home Remedies with herbalist Brigitte Mars, and The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beauty with Vegan Beauty Review founder, Sunny Subramanian. Chrystle lives on the East End of Long Island, NY in a cozy cottage by the sea.
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