We Have a Gagnante!

58220_525159777504477_1251903873_n (1) Sorry this is a day late - things have been a little hairy for me trying to have the paperbacks of MY GRAPE VILLAGE and MY GRAPE ESCAPE shipped in time for me to bring them to the wonderful Surrey International Writers' Conference this weekend.

Now, however, I am happy to report that we have a WINNER in our draw for a free week at La Maison de la Vieille amongst all the people who signed up for my mailing list. It is (cue drumroll) Elizabeth Theobald!

The winner is automatically generated by some genius that lives in a specialized computer thingy I bought (it's like maaaaaaaaagic!) but I am thrilled to report that Elizabeth is part of my PSC family.

I met her and her lovely husband Kevin (the PSCer, like me) in Denver at the PSC conference this year. We bonded when Kevin and I yanked up our jeans and compared the scars on our legs (from the horrendous itching - a hallmark of PSC) and marveled at how we both looked like we had been mauled by the same werewolf. Kevin told me about how a young man from a youth group he led had offered to donate 65% of his liver to Kevin for a living donor liver transplant (by which time Elizabeth, Kevin, and I were all crying over the selflessness of Kevin's donor). Kevin's transplant happened two months ago. Last I heard Kevin is doing fantastic, which makes me very happy and hopeful indeed.

This prize couldn't be going out to two more deserving, delightful people, So Elizabeth, you have a free week at La Maison de la Vieille Vigne - our 16th century winemakers' cottage in Burgundy, France to use yourselves, gift, donate, or do whatever you want with!


P.S. A new contest will be coming very soon, so watch this page...

My Grape Village Paperback now available!

cover_my-grape-village Mes amis! I promised I would let everyone know when My Grape Village was released in paperback and c'est fait!  My advice is to order it directly off which provides the quickest delivery by a long shot. Just click here to order.

Also, our contest winner will be drawn and announced on Monday, so stay tuned...

My Grape Escape Pilgrimage


This is so fun! Friends of friends read My Grape Escape recently and were inspired to make a pilgrimage to Magny-les-Villers and La Maison des Deux Clochers. Even better, they blogged about it! Read all about their adventures in Burgundy here. I love that they took our advice and lunched at our favorite local routier "L'Auberge du Guidon" in nearby Comblanchien and familiarized themselves not only with French truckers (and their moustaches) but huge communal bottles of wine and gargantuan "help yourself" cheese platters.

During their stay in Magny they ventured out to the epic Monday morning market in Louhans and blogged about it  (scene of our memorable day with Rene when we ended up going home with a freshly butchered poulet de bresse and a pile of dirt cheap Emile Henry kitchenware). That was when Rene reminded me to "never confuse what is urgent with what is truly important."

I hope you enjoy these two blog posts as much as I did. I wonder what trips My Grape Village will insipre?



The Grape Harvest at Domaine Buffet in Volnay

Check out these amazing photos of the 2014 Burgundy Grape Harvest... 1904273_10152736552426180_6415536610825861848_n

As I write this post, the grape harvest is happening all over Burgundy. My amazing friend Charlotte (who is also Clementine's godmother) is busy at work at the family Domaine in Volnay (Domaine Buffet) that is now managed by her husband Marc-Olivier. I hadn't met Charlotte yet in My Grape Escape - she was busy in Paris meeting her now winemaking husband.

Charlotte is a major character in the upcoming My Grape Village (although I had to change her name to "Marie" as having two Charlottes - her and my eldest daughter - was just too confusing for this here writer). We had several hilarious email exchanges where we competed to find the most hideous name for her - my favorite being "Fredigonde" I believe - but for the moment I have been calling her "Marie" in the manuscript as her friendship and that of my other French bestie Isabelle was truly one of the miracles of my years in France.

I will keep posting photos of the Grape Harvest at Domaine Buffet for the next few days...a huge merci to Jacqueline Hogue, another member of my beloved Buffet clan, for taking these phenomenal photos.


The vineyard above supplied the grapes in the first and last photos. These vines are Le clos de la Rougeotte, and the ancient and gnarled cherry tree to the right there is what gives this appellation of Volnay 1er cru such a unique cherry flavour. 

The fact that every section of vineyards in Burgundy creates unique tasting wine based on a myriad of such oddities is what makes Burgundy such hallowed grown for wine lovers.


According to Charlotte B. (or Marie, as you will be getting to know her, or Fredigonde if we decide to go that direction) the 2014 grapes are beautiful and luscious with very little rot. The only shame is that the yield will be low due to the disastrous hail storm when Franck was in France. Rest assured, there may not be a lot to go around but the wine that is going to be made from these grapes above is going to be delectable indeed.


Grape Harvest has begun!

The grape harvest in Burgundy has begun! Sue Boxell from "Burgundy on a Plate" wine tours sent this photo yesterday. 10661875_949176025108271_725547513571219349_o I'm currently finishing up one of my LAST round of edits for "My Grape Village" which will be published next month. I'm at that stage where I feel as one writer friend put it, as though somebody has locked me in a dark closet and is forcing me to smoke every single page of my manuscript without a break! The same day that Sue sent this photo I was editing this scene of Charlotte and Camille taking part in the harvest shortly after our move back to Burgundy. I thought you might enjoy the excerpt!


Hand in hand, with the girls skipping in front of us, casting up the ochre vineyard dust, we made our way over to the harvesters. They were a motley crew, dressed in filthy clothes, with T-shirts or shorts tied around their heads to protect them from sunstroke. I knew that some of them were probably doctors and lawyers or other well-heeled friends of the winemaker who came and did the harvest every year, picking side by side with backpacking teenagers and unemployed youth. Harvesting was the great equalizer and they would all be complaining about the heat of the beating sun and sore backs from kneeling down in the dirt all day long.

Unlabeled bottles of wine were being passed up and down the rows. Charlotte and Camille stood at the head of the row, wide-eyed and tiaras askew.  

“Do you want to try to harvest some grapes?” A man with an impressive girth and a pink t-shirt wrapped around his head came over and kneeled down beside the girls. He held out his wickedly sharp shears.

“Go ahead,” I said, while Franck began chatting with another bare-chested man wearing a fraying straw hat. Franck and he seemed to vaguely know each other. I watched as the pink T-shirt man took Camille and Charlotte half way down the row and showed them how to separate the grape bunches from one another and where to cut the grapes off the vine. They cut off several bunches each until the man’s bucket was full.  

He kept up a constant stream of chatter and the girls occasionally nodded yes or no and Charlotte even squeaked out an occasional oui. When he asked them if they were from Savigny the girls shook their heads and Charlotte whispered “Non. Nous sommes Canadiennes.”

“Canada!” he exclaimed, then stood up and shouted out to his fellow harvesters “We have little girls here that have come all the way from Canada to help us with the harvest. Everybody say bonjour to les petites canadiennes!”

Everyone shouted bonjour and Charlotte and Camille were immediately swept into the team of harvesters. My girls snipped off grapes, helped haul buckets to the tractor and then, when that was full, they were invited to ride on the tractor that was festooned with grape vines back to the village. 

Franck and I followed behind on foot through the vineyards.

“Did you know that guy you were talking too?” I asked.

“Vaguely. Turns out he’s a distant cousin, maybe second or third cousin. We couldn’t really figure it out.” This happened often since we arrived in Burgundy. Sometimes I wondered whether Franck wasn’t related in one way or another to most of the people here.

The tractor wove through the narrow streets and into the cuverie at a local winemaker’s family Domaine where the grapes were dumped out on the sorting table. We were all given a glass of freshly pressed grape juice to sip, although our new friend used imaginative miming to explain to the girls that they had to be careful not to drink too much or else they would get an explosive case of diarrhea.

About two hours later we all wandered out of the massive cuverie, Camille and Charlotte both wearing crowns of grape leaves and vines laid over their tiaras. They were smiling from ear to ear. 

"My Grape Village" Publication Update

village_door_by_annamarcella24-d5kdmzc Dearest amis. With my publication of my ebook Philosophy of Preschoolers a couple of days ago, I didn't want you to think I had been neglecting the sequel to My Grape Escape entitled My Grape Village. Pas du tout! 

Philosophy of Preschoolers has been hugely fun to put together during those weeks when I was waiting for one or another of the rounds of edits from My Grape Village to come back to me. Here is a great review that was posted today on that does a much better job of summing up this hard-to-describe chef d'oeuvre of the preschool brain than I can:

"I'm not sure what I was expecting when I started reading The Philosophy of Preschoolers, but what it turned out to be was a complete delight. Clem is a wildly imaginative five year old trying to make sense of the world, and Anna is her smart as a whip, practical three year old cousin. Mom chimes in occasionally, but basically it's a brilliant My Dinner with Andre, courtesy of Clem and Anna. I laughed aloud multiple times, once or twice wiping tears of laughter, too. Highly recommended!"

I just received the My Grape Village mansucript back from my beta-readers and am racing through this second to last round of edits. Lastly, I will need to do the copy edits but that generally goes quite fast. So if all goes well (fingers & toes crossed) My Grape Village should be available for purchase as both an ebook and a paperback at the beginning of October.

It is also turning out rather larger than My Grape EscapeMy Grape Village is clocking in at about 110,000 words whereas My Grape Escape was around 75,000. So, LOTS of new adventures in Burgundy contained between its covers!

I am teaching a workshop on self-publishing at the fantabulous Surrey International Writers' Conference at the end of October (in the company of Herself aka Diana Gabaldon *gasp*) as well as doing a Keynote speech on giving youself permission to be a writer (before it's too late) on the Sunday morning. I am determined to have My Grape Village all ready and published by then.

In the meantime this means you are still eligible to win a free week at La Maison de la Vieille Vigne if you go to my website and sign up for my mailing list before then. Tout le monde on my mailing list will be eligible for the draw.

Bonne chance, keep in touch, and rest assured I am constantly writing, editing, and publishing new things for my readers - truly the loveliest and most supportive people in l'univers.  I think you all deserve a big french bisous. *smack*

Sparkfly Event - May 29th, 2014 at Nourish Bistro

Join us for an evening of sharing, exploration and great conversation. Prepare to find inspiration from the stories of two fabulous creative women who have made, and continue to make their mark in Victoria and beyond. We are so excited to have the following women share their stories with us and inspire us all to follow our instincts. Laura Bradbury



In November 2013 Laura Bradbury self-published My Grape Escape - the first book of The Grape Series - one book for each of the properties Laura and her husband renovated in Burgundy, France. My Grape Escape hit #1 on the “France” chart almost immediately, as well as placing in the top 5 of the “Travel-Europe” category and in the top 100 “Memoirs.”

Laura is currently editing My Grape Village about moving back to Burgundy with her two eldest daughters in tow to renovate a dilapidated cottage just behind Franck's childhood home in the village of Villers-la-Faye.

At the moment Laura, her french husband Franck, and their three franco-Canadian daughters share their time between Victoria, Canada and Burgundy, France where they own and manage four vacation rentals in the vineyards, including a 16th century restored winemaker's cottage and a 13th century wine cellar under the streets of Beaune (

Laura is a holder of a BA from McGill University, a "License" from the Sorbonne in medieval French literature, and a law degree from Oxford (which she never used, much to the horror of her parents). She published several articles about French wine and culture in glossy magazines before being distracted for a good decade by motherhood. Laura has no spare time, but she does neglect her children and husband on a regular basis in order to write, paint, read, and enjoy a strong espresso with a square of dark chocolate.

Laura will delight us with her humour on this Sparkfly evening, while recounting some of her journey from the law offices of London to leaving it all to follow her heart.

Author website:

Nicole Smith


One year ago Nicole took the leap from her 13 years working at, and consulting for Microsoft to launching her start up in a brand new, unexplored arena of the travel sector - connecting travelers with local professional photographers for short, fun candid photo shoots.

For her first 100 clients, Nicole handled each and every aspect of their experience directly, ensuring she accurately understood their requirements, needs and wants; all of which enabled her shape the company and its values into what it is today. She has since been featured in Conde Nast Traveller, Huffington Post, NBC,, The Daily Mail and The Sunday Times. Flytographer is currently operating in 85 cities worldwide across Europe, Asia, Australia, North America, Central/South America and Africa and has over 135 talented professional photographers on their roster.

On this special Sparkfly evening, Nicole will share a little about her process of starting a new company and how she has integrated her young sons into the process (hint -they do family high-fives every time a new client comes in). She will also talk about the triumphs and challenges that have come with trusting her instincts and following her dream.

Our goal at Sparkfly is to encourage community, collective creativity and stimulate collaboration. Let’s get together and have some fun, dream, share and give ourselves the space and permission to explore. The last event was sold out and tickets are limited, so secure yours now.