Review: Thirty Thousand Bottles of Wine and a Pig Named Helga by Todd Alexander


Title: Thirty Thousand Bottles of Wine and a Pig Named Helga

Author: Todd Alexander

Published: February 23rd 2019, Simon & Schuster

Status: Read May 2019, won via


My Thoughts:

I was delighted to win a signed copy of Thirty Thousand Bottles of Wine and a Pig Named Helga to gift to my mother for Mother’s Day thanks to However I couldn’t pass it on without reading it first.

Thirty Thousand Bottles of Wine and a Pig Named Helga is the story of Todd Alexander’s mid life tree change with his partner, Jeff, abandoning inner city living and highly paid careers, for a hundred acre farm in the Hunter Valley, to grow grapes, olives, and run a five star B&B.

Todd has dreams of channeling his inner Maggie Beer…cooking delicious meals from their own produce, sipping their own labeled wine, enjoying the spectacular views over their property, with Jeff by his side. After all, Todd is wont to say, how hard can it be?

It’s certainly not any where near as easy as Todd hopes. What do two gay city boys know about slashing acres of grass, empty water tanks, broken irrigation systems, eggbound chickens, and desuckering 12,000 grapevines? Not a lot as it turns out, but they are willing to learn, and determined to succeed.

There are failures and successes, mistakes and lucky breaks, all of which Todd shares with honesty and humour. I don’t envy them the years of renovation and building (though the results are stunning), or the back breaking work required to both maintain and grow a farm. But I enjoyed his anecdotes about both the joys and challenges of farm life, and particularly the affectionate descriptions of the couples beloved pets, like the titular Helga the pig.

Todd also shares information of a more personal nature, touching on his relationship with his children who are regular visitors to the farm, and I was moved by his support of his mother as she battled bowel cancer. He also discusses how his experiences as a farmer have resulted in him becoming vegan, and provides a dozen or so of his favourite recipes.

Thirty Thousand Bottles of Wine and a Pig Named Helga is an entertaining and charming memoir, and might just inspire your own dreams for a new life, or at least for a nice glass of Semillon.


Available to purchase from Simon & Schuster

Or to purchase via Booko


Linking to #NonFictionFriday @ DoingDeweyDecimal

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lindsi
    May 17, 2019 @ 12:34:07

    I’m happy this one worked for you! I never give someone a book I haven’t read first, unless it’s one they’ve specifically asked for. I even read the kid’s library books before reading them with them. It’s a lot of extra reading, yes, but I also want to know what’s being read first!

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Amanda Barrett
    May 17, 2019 @ 21:21:33

    I’m keen to give this one a go after reading your review. Thanks Shelleyrae!

    Liked by 1 person


  3. Tina
    May 18, 2019 @ 01:01:41

    This one has been on my radar, great review. Now I will try and get a copy for sure.

    Liked by 1 person


  4. Lola
    May 19, 2019 @ 05:40:53

    This sounds like an interesting read with how you see how they experience the change to set up their own B&B and farm.

    Liked by 1 person


  5. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? | book'd out
  6. lakesidemusing
    May 20, 2019 @ 04:51:40

    This sounds a lot like Josh Kilmer-Purcell’s book The Bucolic Plague, which I enjoyed several years ago. Might have to give this a try, too!

    Liked by 1 person


  7. Deb Nance at Readerbuzz
    May 20, 2019 @ 09:51:50

    One of my favorite subgenres, a genre I call Moving-and-Starting-Over. I must look for this one!



  8. Trackback: Review: You’ve Got To Be Kidding by Todd Alexander | book'd out

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