Book Report: “Back Lane Wineries of Sonoma” and “Back Lane Wineries of Napa”

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Two handy new wine reference books have just been released, and the timing is perfect for your summer wine travels. The fully updated second edition paperbacks of “Back Lane Wineries of Sonoma,” and “Back Lane Wineries of Napa” are now available at bookstores and online.

Written by Tilar Mazzeo, the Clara C. Piper Associate Professor of English at Colby College, with beautiful photography by Paul Hawley, they’re excellent guides to visiting the two most popular California wine regions: Sonoma County and Napa Valley. Mazzeo has selected 70 regional wineries for each book, and she’s categorized them by geographical location or sub-appellation for convenience.

From big to small and from secret to well-known, each winery has been thoughtfully chosen to provide a more intimate type of visit. Information for each entry includes location and contact information, a short description of the winery, details about its owners, winemakers and varietal specialties, and the tasting fees, if any. Along with winery descriptions and general wine tips, each town or region also has suggestions for restaurants as well as other activities in the area. Three spreads of maps are included in the front of the books, to guide you to each location.

Don’t relegate these books to a shelf in your den. They’re sized conveniently to fit nicely into the glove box of your car so you can carry them on your wine travels. And there are also Kindle editions you can load onto your iPad to have at hand.

From the initial tip-filled chapters about wine traveling and tasting, to the list of wine shipping services, the author seems to have thought of everything in a mere 230 pages. If you own first editions, I’d suggest getting new ones; as with most reference books, old material is removed and fresh is added. Happy wine travels!

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