From the best wines to try to a wine country road trip itinerary, our latest issue has it all.

Wine and Chips (2023 Wine Issue)
Thomas J. Story

We’re living in the golden era of wine in the West. I had that thought on a recent road trip up the California coast where at nearly every stop along the way I was delighted by exceptional wine everywhere I went: at all day cafes with short smart wine lists, at hotel restaurants that featured wines from local producers who rarely sell outside of their region, at shops specializing in zero-zero wines made with no added sulfur or yeasts. I realized on my way up to wine country that all of the West has become wine country, whether there are vines or not. 

It’s all part of a loosening of the rules: Wine is more diverse and abundant than ever, labels are becoming less ponderous and self important and far more whimsical, grapes are fermented with other fruits, there’s decent boxed and canned wine, and crown caps rather than corks secure bubbly that rivals Champagne. It used to be a serious wine list could only be found at what we used to call a “fancy” restaurant, with a thickly bound leather tome that could sprain your wrist. Nowadays exciting wine lists full of excellent bottlings are scribbled on butcher paper and chalkboards and are to be found at casual pizza joints and sandwich shops. Wine shops are breaking rules and becoming relaxed spots to hang out and sip and maybe even get a snack or a meal from a food truck. Wineries are pulling out the stops with experiences that go way beyond the expected counter with tasting flights and a dump bucket. 

And wine experts are pushing for pairings that are the ultimate in high-low: The formerly insider-only knowledge that Champagne goes well with potato chips has gone mainstream and now there are sommeliers and winemakers suggesting the best varietals to sip with Cheez-Its or sour cream and onion Ruffles. Weird? Yes, but in the most wonderful way. We explore these trends and more in our annual wine issue (which you can read below). We also celebrate the delicious diversity of the winners of the most recent Sunset International Wine Competition. Every one of them is pushing the world of wine forward, both in the West and beyond. Cheers to the winners, and see the list here!

Read the 2023 Wine Issue Right Here!

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