The California wine country is host to fine food, fine wine and a fine murder or two.
Realtor Ellen McKenzie has prevailed upon her fiancé, Police Chief Dan Dunham, to escort her to an evening gala at the Silver Springs Winery, where her niece Sabrina’s husband Mark has just taken over as winemaker. Everything looks beautiful, but behind the scenes the temperamental Chef Otto is pitching a fit. The atmosphere is not eased by the arrival of Mark’s father Frank Tortelli, restaurateur, chef and Otto’s hated rival. Also seated at Ellen’s table are Jolene Bixby, an attractive but inebriated food-and-wine writer; Ian Applby, one of the winery’s owners; and sleazy realtor Carlton Carpenter, who recently bought a small share in the winery and sold Chef Otto a house he plans to run as an upscale B&B. Otto’s assistant Larry Whittaker, Ellen’s old high school friend, wants to renew what he regards as their ancient romance. But after years in a bad marriage, Ellen’s ambivalent about marrying Dan. When Otto is found dead in the fermenting tank, Sabrina is a suspect, and Ellen feels a little sleuthing on her part won’t hurt. Another murder and a stolen vat of wine merely make Ellen more determined to hunker down.
Spotting the killer is easy, but congenial characters make Delaney’s debut an enjoyable addition to the cozy scene.