Food: A Golden Age for Grapes

California's talented young winemakers are having their best of times, even as they worry about worse days that may lie ahead

All across western California, in huge steel tanks and small oak barrels, grape juice from the autumn harvest is bubbling to be reborn as wine -- and omens for the 1990 vintage look good. True, late spring rains on the north coast meant that the crop of Chardonnay, the state's premier white-wine grape, was smaller than normal. No such problem with the reds, though. And the nose knows. Jim Fetzer, one of 10 siblings who run the family's 1,400-acre vineyard in Mendocino County, says his vintners tell him that "the winery hasn't smelled this good in 10 years."

"This is the...

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