A few weeks ago, I wrote about MJA Vineyards and its offshoot—DaVine Cellars. When I went to the Swift Street complex to check out this brand new winery in the area, I bought two bottles—a Cabernet Sauvignon, which I have already written about, and a Rosé. Rosés are making much more of an impact than in days of yesteryear, when a lot of folk would not give them the time of day. Now, Rosés are in demand, especially during warm summer weather.
One of the most popular wines round these parts is Storrs Chardonnay. It’s probably one of the most-requested wines at any given restaurant. And the reason is simple – it’s an excellent wine. It turns out that many judges at this year’s California State Fair think so, too. They named the Storrs 2008 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay as the Best Wine of the Region. As the top wine of the greater Bay Area, this wine also garnered a Best Chardonnay of Region distinction, and a gold medal. When you think of all the wines submitted in this competition, this is truly an impressive achievement.
On a recent trip to Vancouver, Whistler and Victoria, we visit a friend in Vancouver. She whips up a quick lunch for us, and pops open a bottle of Canadian wine. Having just moved there from the Santa Cruz area, she is still trying out the far north wines and tells us how much she misses all the good wineries we have in our area.
We really don’t have enough time to go wine tasting in the land of all things maple, but stopping off in Seattle to stay with relatives on the way back home, we not only have time, but we also have a designated driver, my son-in-law.
Eggs Benedict and Red Wine
Do ham and eggs and red wine go together? Well, why not! On a recent Sunday, my husband and I decide to go out for brunch. It’s already 2 p.m. when we leave home, so we head to the Red Apple Café in Aptos—knowing they serve breakfast and brunch until 4 p.m. and I have a yearning for eggs Benedict. I take along a bottle of Poetic Cellars’ Mantra 2007—a wonderful blend of 45 percent Syrah, 45 percent Mourvedre and 10 percent Sangiovese—because in my book, it’s all right to drink wine any time after 11 a.m.—be it with breakfast, brunch or lunch.
It is easy to enjoy the exceptional food served at Chaminade when paired with wonderful wines. In this case, Vine Hill is the participating winery at one of the series of Farm to Table dinners I attended recently with my husband. These lovely events typically feature local organic farmers and one of our wonderful local wineries. Seating is outdoors (with heaters for the chilly evenings!), dinners are served family style at one long table, and the whole idea is to enjoy the experience of sharing food and wine together in a beautiful setting with a panoramic view of the Monterey Bay. With this in mind, hubby and I head to Chaminade early (the events starts at 5:30 p.m.)—totally prepared to catch maximum rays and a good glass of wine before dinner.
Hors d’oeuvres are already being passed, and Vine Hill is pouring whatever wine you prefer from their selection of chardonnay, pinot noir, syrah, zinfandel—and so on. Vine Hill also makes wines under other labels—Cumbre and Gatos Locos—so they cover a broad spectrum.
We immediately run into four friends and thoroughly enjoy spending the evening with them. We are all impressed with the participating farms – Surfside Chicken and A.C.E. Organics, and the excellent cuisine of executive chef Beverlie Terra, who periodically comes out to talk about the food and to check that we’re all having a good time.
Vine Hill Winery owner Nick Guerrero and vineyard manager Rachel Ormes are sitting opposite, so wine talk is flowing like champagne. I finish with a superb pinot noir—and, as the sun sets in a stunning golden glow over the ocean, I heave a sigh of total satisfaction. Food, wine and good conversation have all come together in perfect unison.
Vine Hill Winery, 2300 Jarvis Road, Santa Cruz, 427-0436. vinehillwinery.com. Chaminade Resort & Spa, One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz, 475-5600. chaminade.com. The next Farm to Table dinner is on Friday, July 23 and features the wines of Poetic Cellars. Tickets are $65 per person. Call Chaminade for reservations. The last two are on Aug. 20 and Sept. 24.