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Lagrein hails from Italy’s Trentino-Alto Adige region and the varietal’s name likely lies with its origins in the Lagarina Valley of Trentino, in the far north of Alpine Italy. Bordered by Austria and Switzerland, the culture is more Tyrolean than Italian, and the first language is often German. Many wines from the region are labeled in both Italian and in German. Even the name of the region, Alto Adige, does not speak for itself; it is generally rendered bilingually with its German counterpart, Südtirol, South Tyrol. The food in this region has Germanic roots as well, and the sausages in the accompanying recipe are a perfect complement to Lagrein.
The Lagarina Valley is framed by the Dolomite Mountains, which push cold air down the slopes as the Adriatic Sea sends warming sea breezes into the valley. This confluence provides a micro-climate wonderfully suited for Lagrein and is replicated thousands of miles away, here in the Santa Ynez Valley, where cool sea fog and breezes from the Pacific meet warm desert airs flowing down the San Rafael Mountain hillsides.