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Unraveling a Tangled Web of Wine

3/16/2017 - Unraveling a Tangled Web of Wine

Author Dinkelspiel Unravels Tangled Web of Wine

San Bernardino County Museum Dome Talks Series Continues in March

When you think of California wines, do you envision a nice Zinfandel sipped at sunset in a shady bower? Well, be prepared to think instead about one of the most notorious mysteries in California history, linking the Rancho Cucamonga John Rains murder in a tale that spans nearly one and a half centuries and culminates with the torching of 4.5 million bottles of the worlds most historic vintages of wine.

Author Frances Dinkelspiel will discuss her recently-published bestseller, Tangled Vines: Greed, Murder, Obsession, and an Arsonist in the Vineyards of California at the second installment of the San Bernardino County Museum Dome Talks series on Thursday, March 16. Doors open at 6:30 pm.

Frances Dinkelspiel, a fifth-generation Californian, is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Daily Beast, People magazine and elsewhere. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, was a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller and chosen as a best book of the Year by the Chronicle and the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association. Tangled Vines is her second book and has been named a New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle bestseller and was named a best wine book of the year by the Wall Street Journal and Food and Wine Magazine.

On October 12, 2005, a massive fire broke out in the Wines Central wine warehouse in Vallejo, California. Within hours, the flames had destroyed 4.5 million bottles of Californias finest wine worth more than $250 million, making it the largest destruction of wine in history. Among the priceless bottles destroyed were 175 bottles of Port and Angelica made by Frances Dinkelspiels great-great grandfather, Isaias Hellman, in 1875. The grapes used for the wine came from a vineyard in Rancho Cucamonga that had first been planted in 1839, making it one of the oldest vineyards in California. The headquarters of this vineyard was the John Rains House, now a San Bernardino County Museum historic site.

Tangled Vines: Greed, Murder, Obsession and an Arsonist in the Vineyards of California tells the story of the inferno and Dinkelspiels journey to reconstruct the history of the vineyard where Hellmans wine was made. Its a search, too, to understand the passion that drives men and women to make wine, and what turns people to wines dark side.

Admission to a Dome Talks session is $15; museum members are charged $10. Light refreshments will be provided by the San Bernardino County Museum Association. Reservations are recommended as seats are limited; visit to purchase tickets; remaining available tickets can be purchased at the door.

Dome Talks and the County Museums other exciting events and exhibits reflect the effort by the Board of Supervisors to achieve the Countywide Vision by celebrating arts, culture, and education in the county, creating quality of life for residents and visitors.

The San Bernardino County Museum is at 2024 Orange Tree Lane, at the California Street exit from Interstate 10 in Redlands. The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parking is free. For more information, visit The museum is accessible to persons with disabilities.




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