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Wine Geeks Get New Book of Oddball Varietals: Elin McCoy

On a tasting trip to Italy’s Friuli region in 2005, Napa Valley viticulture whiz Steve Matthiasson had an “aha” moment. He fell in love with ribolla gialla, a local white grape.

This little-known variety is now a hot vino-geek item in California, with at least five winemakers producing it. Its rise neatly jibes with the vogue for obscure varieties showing up on trendy restaurant lists.