★★★★★ Root Cause by Steven Laine tells the story of Corvina Guerra, a twenty-seven-year-old wine expert who travels the world consulting on local vineyards at the behest of her employer, beverage conglomerate Universal Wines. After paying a visit to a friend of her father’s, Corvina discovers an outbreak of a particularly voracious strain of aphid, which modern rootstock has been bred to render ineffective—or so we all thought. Corvina won’t be able to solve the mystery just on her own, so she enlists the help of Bryan Lawless, a sommelier whose relationship with a member of the Institute of Masters of Wine prevented him from joining the organization himself. With plenty at stake for the pair of them, Bryan and Corvina team up in hopes of defending their greatest passion in life. What follows is a frantic chase to get to the bottom of Corvina’s little bug problem before it threatens to put the entire wine industry out of business. For good.
Root Cause is a pithy, pitch-perfect story about the sort of madness that can ensue when one of humankind’s favorite vices comes under fire. What’s remarkable about this novel is that it illustrates just how far the wine industry stretches, reaching to all corners of the globe in a self-sustaining system—much like a vineyard’s very roots. It’s always great to see an author taking the age-old adage “write what you know” to heart, and never has a saying been more fitting than with Root Cause. Having traveled to over one hundred vineyards and wineries, and after many years of working in the wine industry, it’s safe to say that Laine knows his grapes. Root Cause is the perfect application of Laine’s extensive knowledge of vineyards, and is, to boot, a thoroughly researched story that will both educate and entertain readers.