Will Harriss. Noble Rot (1993) 197 pp.
Publisher’s description: “Vinnie Letessier, who has an M.A. in French but knows nothing about money or making wine, has gone to work in his Uncle Francis’s winery in Napa Valley. Château Letessier has been experiencing financial difficulties, and trouble goes from bad to worse when Vinnie drags a dead body out of a fermentation tank of Cabernet Sauvignon. Suspects abound, from Francis’s gold-digging ex-wife, to a consortium wanting to take over the winery, to people who simply hate the successful vintner. But before the culprit can be caught, Francis is murdered. Vinnie, a charming ne’er-do-well who is at the winery only because he had run through his share of the family fortune, has his hands full trying to discover who put the body in the tank, who murdered his uncle, and how he is to save the winery. It’s a challenge for the generally care-free Vinnie, but with the help (and affection) of ceramic tile designer Peggy Singletary and the collaboration of a newfound friend, Vinnie proves there’s more to him than just a pretty face.” Author Will Harriss won the Edgar Award for Best First Mystery for his previous book, The Bay Psalm Book Murder.
Setting: Napa Valley