This first-ever organic American vodka may be the bridge between Birkenstock wearers and martini makers. Packaged entirely in recycled materials, Rain is made in Kentucky of organically grown grain and pure limestone water ($18; available nationwide).
Australian wines have become so popular in America that two of the largest Aussie companies have set up shop in California. Southcorp was the first, with the Central Coast winery Seven Peaks, followed by Mildara Blass, which moved its master winemaker, David O'Leary, to Bayliss and Fortune, its new Monterey outpost.
Top 10 List
To help ring in the New Year, some sparkling wine alternatives to Champagne, in ascending order of price:
1. 1997 Seaview Brut, Australia ($8)
2. Nonvintage Gratien & Meyer Brut, France ($9)
3. Nonvintage Zardetto Prosecco, Italy ($10)
4. Nonvintage Joan Esteve Nadal Cava Avinyó, Spain ($13)
5. Nonvintage Domaine Chandon Blanc de Noirs, California ($14)
6. Nonvintage Mumm Napa Brut Prestige, California ($14)
7. Nonvintage Roederer Estate Brut, California ($16)
8. 1992 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, California ($22)
9. 1993 Jordan J Brut, California ($25)
10. Nonvintage Ca' del Bosco Franciacorta Brut, Italy ($30)
Peet's, the premium coffee purveyor, sent its roast master around the world in search of the best organic beans. He found his ideal in Central America and Indonesia. The result: Gaia Organic Blend ($12 a pound; 800-999-2132).
The proverbial man in the Brooks Brothers suit may soon be replaced by the man with the Brooks Brothers Shiraz, thanks to the venerable retailer's new wine club, which delivers two bottles each month to its members. Sign up at Brooks Brothers stores or call 888-335-9463 for details.
Robin Lail has the right lineage to make a great Napa Valley wine. (Her family was among Napa's early pioneers.) She also has the right land, talent and vision. Lail Vineyards' first release is the 1995 J. Daniel Cuvée ($60; available nationwide).