Food & Wine
April 01, 2009

What is it about wine country that makes it so seductive? It’s partly the beautiful landscape, with rows of vines that creep like fuzzy green caterpillars up and down the hills. It’s partly the tasting rooms, where visitors can make the connection between the site, the soil and the wine in the glass—the ultimate locavore experience. But it’s mainly the promise of something fundamental: fun with friends or family in a gorgeous place. We explore it all in this issue.

Since California is the wine country closest to home, we dig deep there. Executive Wine Editor Lettie Teague visits Napa Valley’s Beringer Vineyards, which was the first winery in the country to offer public tours. Lettie and Beringer winemaker Laurie Hook lead a discussion about Cabernet over a perfect spring lunch of slow-roasted lamb with pesto prepared by chef Gerard Craft of St. Louis’s Niche.

We also visit Napa in two more stories. In our Well-Being column, we catch up with Sandy Lawrence, who lives the life that most wannabes (or at least this wannabe) dream of: She owns a great vegetarian restaurant and yoga studio, Ubuntu, and has a lovely eco-minded house and a biodynamic garden. In “Hidden, Affordable Napa Valley,” writer Tilar Mazzeo reveals Napa at its most accessible: She takes a salsa lesson, soaks in mineral springs and goes on a vineyard “safari” in a 1963 U.S. military Jeep.

In our blockbuster “World’s Best Wine Country Recipes,” we create a taste-bud tour of the planet with incredible recipes and dozens of bottles to match. The spicy Chilean fried-fish sandwiches are terrific with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc; the lemony Provençal chicken is sublime with a smoky white Côtes-du-Rhône.

Trying these pairings in my Manhattan apartment doesn’t perfectly fulfill my wine-country fantasy. But if I close my eyes tight, I can almost see the vines.

Where I’m Coming From

My Recent NYP Expeditions:

Tom: Tuesday Dinner
Tom Colicchio’s “pop-up” Tuesday-night-only restaurant has an exquisite menu that reminded me of his time cooking at Gramercy Tavern. I loved the pig trotters with pickled egg and honshimeji mushrooms.

Susur Lee’s New York City debut showcases the Toronto star’s dazzling Chinese-global flavors. His jerk chicken is amazing.

Jim Lahey, the bread genius who launched Sullivan Street Bakery, makes one of the best pizza crusts ever at his hip new restaurant. And the toppings are great, too!

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