Dana Cowin
April 26, 2012

The cliché about California wine country is that it’s romantic. And, like so many clichés, it’s annoyingly true. I took my first trip there in the early 1980s, and I still remember how I was seduced by the light and the vineyard vistas. The people I met back then were also gripped by a sense of romantic potential— the possibility of creating a beautiful life while making great Cabernet or Chardonnay in Napa Valley. This issue is devoted to the latest in California wine for anyone who wants to experience a little piece of the dream.

The marriage of Gina Gallo (the super-talented, down-to-earth winemaker for Gallo Family Vineyards) and Jean-Charles Boisset (the scion of France’s Boisset wine family) shows another side to the love of the grape. The couple share their excitement about wine and food at a party in their San Francisco apartment, choosing his-and-hers pairings for the Cal-Ital menu from star chef Michael Mina. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether Gina’s or Jean-Charles’s Pinot goes better with the lamb-ragù pasta.

Some of the romance of wine, I’ve always thought, is in the ceremony—the pull of the cork, the tilt of the bottle. But our story “California Wine on Tap,” about the utilitarian trend of high-quality wines in kegs, made me think again. And when those wines pair beautifully with food—like chef Mike Lata’s rosemary-scented leg of lamb—any concerns about how they got into the glass vanish.

If one definition of romance is falling in love with new places, then California wine country must be the most romantic patch of land in the world. In Where to Go Next, we point you to the best spots. My favorite concept? The B&B in Salinas where an elephant (led by a staff member) brings you breakfast.

Where I’m Coming From: Grand Cayman Dispatch

7 at The Ritz-Carlton

I asked ahead for the off-the-menu Indian breakfast. The puri bhaji—fried bread with a potato-and-pea masala—was outrageously good. Seven Mile Beach; 345-943-9000.

Blue by Eric Ripert

Chef de cuisine Luis Lujan, inspired by genius mentor Eric Ripert, makes the most of local fish like wahoo.

Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink Grand Cayman

The wood-roasted local okra and braised rabbit were a delicious tribute to the island by top Miami chef Michael Schwartz. 47 Forum Ln., Canella Court, Camana Bay; 345-640-6433.

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