Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 27th
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dining_winebottleLife is not all plain sailing. My car broke down outside of Reno after a 4,000-mile trip across country. It was a Friday night, with all car repairs shops already closed, so after getting towed by AAA to Mercedes of Reno,

I just had to temporarily wave goodbye to my car. My husband and I picked up a rental car from Reno Airport and drove home the next day.

Another glitch happened when we tried to return the car to the rental place downtown Santa Cruz. We were too late for the Saturday noon closing time, so we headed to Monterey Airport to return it there.

All this is leading up to eating dinner that evening at Zameen in Aptos. We were starving after the double-whammy car fiasco and needed good food that didn’t take an age to prepare. We got to Zameen at 8 p.m., the restaurant’s closing time on Saturday, but were welcomed warmly by owner Ed Watson who assured us we could still place our order.

Just as important as the food that night was a good bottle of wine. After all that driving through several states, plus another 90-something miles just to return the rental car, I couldn’t wait to relax with some tasty nectar. A bottle of Mount Eden Vineyards 2007 Edna Valley Chardonnay was just the ticket.

Situated in Saratoga on Mount Eden Road, the winery produces Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay from their historic vineyards. The Chardonnay we had ordered is produced from grapes culled from the MacGregor Vineyard in the beautiful Edna Valley in the San Luis Obispo area – and not from Mount Eden’s own vineyards. It’s fermented and aged in the same way and with the same care as their estate Chardonnay, and the result is a lovely crisp, luscious wine. It was certainly very drinkable with my falafel wrap and my husband’s spicy lamb with walnut pomegranate sauce.

Mount Eden’s estate Chardonnay (2004 Santa Cruz Mountains) sells for about $55 a bottle, but this Edna Valley Chardonnay is about $20—a very good price for such a pleasant wine. Zameen sells it for around $26—not a huge mark-up considering the elevated prices of some restaurants.

Located on a 2,000-foot peak in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Mount Eden Vineyards was started in 1945, and it’s recognized as one of the original California “Boutique” wineries. Unfortunately, there is no tasting room available.

Andrea Vollersen and Brian Wilkerson, the man and wife team behind Aptos Creek Vineyard, are enjoying their dinner on a nearby table. When I go over to say hello, Andrea thanks me for telling them about Zameen. “We come here all the time,” she says. I examine their bottle of red wine. It’s from Australia, so I give them a mock-reprimanding look, and we all laugh.

The end of the car story is – my husband flew to Reno, drove my car back and all is well. Let’s drink a toast to that!

Zameen Mediterranean Cuisine, 7528 Soquel Drive, Aptos (in the Aptos Center). Tel: 688-4465.

Mount Eden Vineyards, 22020 Mount Eden Road, Satatoga.

Tel: (408) 867-5832. Toll-free info: (888) 865-9463.

Comments (1)Add Comment
written by JAMES RAIDER, September 13, 2010
Great wine and incredible location for a vineyard.

Note: Crowning this unique vineyard is a spectacular mansion finished in '09, built by Doyle Hastings. The home is a masterpiece and its design is very much in keeping with the "look" of old world wineries.

Unfortunately the estate is not visible from the road and the long winding dirt track up the mountain is private. Even Google can't get there.

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