Top picks for the people, places and flavors that will shape the way we drink in the year ahead.
Dan Petroski would prefer not to be classified as part of the “new California” group of winemakers – although he’s become something of a poster child for the movement. By day, he’s the winemaker at Calistoga’s Larkmead, where he makes classic, bold California reds. By night, he creates some of the most intriguing white wines coming out of Napa – or arguably just about anywhere-today. Focusing on little-known Italian varietals like floral, soft Tocai Friuliano or acid-bursting Ribolla Gialla that he’s hunted down and, miraculously, found growing nearby in small, forgotten lots (or even neighbors’ backyards), he pays homage to time he spent in Sicily early in his winemaking career. “Part of my romance with wine is living a life of nostalgia,” he says. “In Sicily, [I was] surrounded by the salinity of the Mediterranean Sea, by the floral blossoms of orange and lemon trees, and by the best almonds in the world. I wanted to work with white wines because all of those aromas and flavor profiles are present there. There’s this really wonderful tie back to the wines I drank there.” His passion is present in the bottles he sells under the Massican labels – they’re transporting and powerful in a way that we don’t expect from California white wines. Call it “new California” or simply Dan Petroski’s second job, there’s no denying that it’s gamechanging stuff.