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Sep 22nd
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Wine Reviews

Dining - Wine Reviews

Martin Ranch Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2008

Martin Ranch Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2008

A visit to Martin Ranch is nothing short of an adventure. The address alone encapsulates the location – Redwood Retreat Road. It’s actually a very easy drive going over Hecker Pass and making a left on Watsonville Road—but I followed my Mapquest and drove down a long dirt road from Summit Road before I got to my destination. But all is right with the world when you get there. Martin Ranch is beautiful and the view is breathtaking. And the occasion was Martin Ranch’s annual wine club members’ barbecue.

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Dining - Wine Reviews

Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards Chardonnay 2008

Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards Chardonnay 2008

Although Thomas Fogarty is known mostly for making top-of-the-line wines, the winery also turns out a low-key Chardonnay called Skyline, which sells for about $15—a modest price to pay for a lovely crisp wine. The 2008 Skyline is fermented and aged in stainless steel. Because it is not aged in the finest oak barrels doesn’t mean it’s not worthy. Au contraire—this Chardonnay has a bright clean finish that’s unpretentious and delicious. Of course, a good Chardonnay that’s been aged in the finest French oak barrels is bound to be superior, but then you’ll be paying a lot more, too. The Skyline is named after Skyline Boulevard where the winery sits—at 2,000 feet above sea level – and where they claim the Skyline strip to be “the ribbon that adorns the Santa Cruz Mountains.” This particular wine comes with a screw cap, but don’t let that put you off. Many wineries these days are going that route, even though many people are not happy about it. I still prefer the “old-fashioned” cork, though.

At a recent dinner at Aquarius restaurant in the Dream Inn in Santa Cruz, I order the Skyline 2007 to go with my entrée of California White Bass—a lovely pairing with the succulent fish. I always try to drink local wines when I’m dining around town, and I was pleased to see that Aquarius has quite a few wines from our Santa Cruz Mountains appellation. They also do wine flights where you can taste a flight of three—and order a few “Bar Bites” if you get the munchies. It’s an all-round beautiful restaurant—esthetically stunning and with impressive food to match.

Two of the wonderful local wines that Aquarius carries, Heart O’ The Mountain Pinot Noir and Black Ridge Pinot Noir, were served at the restaurant’s recent celebratory opening. And what a party it was! As well as an abundance of delicious food and wine, there were synchronized swimmers in the hotel’s pool, and fire dancers on the beach. The place was packed with invitees having an absolutely wonderful time. We were even greeted at the door with a glass of champagne.

Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards, 19501 Skyline Blvd., Woodside, (650) 851-6777, fogartywinery.com. Open for wine tasting Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tasting fee is $8 and $12, but complimentary on Wednesdays. Aquarius, 175 West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz,  460-5012.


Wine Events

Johnny’s Harborside is doing an ongoing “Raise a Glass” fundraiser for local teachers. Until Jan. 1, 2010, they will be donating $1 a glass or flight and $4 per bottle of all Ventana wines. With the funds raised, Johnny’s will be partnering with the Institute of HeartMath to offer free training to local teachers.
Johnny’s Harborside Restaurant & Bar, 493 Lake Ave., Santa Cruz, 479-3430, johnnysharborside.com.

Dining - Wine Reviews

Ridge Vineyards

Ridge Vineyards

2007 Ridge Vineyards Three Valleys
What makes a good bottle of wine? Well, in this case, it’s 76 percent Zinfandel, 8 percent Petite Syrah, 7 percent Syrah, 6 percent Grenache, and 3 percent Carignane. I’m talking about Ridge Vineyards’ 2007 Sonoma County Three Valleys. This superb blend made by Ridge Vineyards of Cupertino, is luscious, fruity and sublime. The Carignane, a popular blending wine, adds a nice peppery finish. Bottled in August 2008, it’s ready to drink right now, but it will also keep well for another half dozen years or so.

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Dining - Wine Reviews

River Run Vintners 2007 Negrette

River Run Vintners 2007 NegretteA bottle of Negrette is something you don’t see every day. Negrette is a rare and wonderful grape that originated centuries ago in Cyprus. The owner and winemaker at River Run Vintners, J.P. Pawloski, must like a challenge because it requires some skill to make a good wine from this particular grape. Established in 1978, River Run Vintners has risen to the occasion many times. Located near Aromas, this family business – producing about 3,000 cases annually – is open to the public only six days a year, and by appointment.
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Dining - Wine Reviews

Vine Hill Winery

Vine Hill WineryVine Hill 2008 Chardonnay
Sharing food and wine with friends is one of life’s greatest pleasures. For all time, it has been the ultimate demonstration of giving – to empty one’s larder and to drain out one’s wine barrel in the name of hospitality. 

Every year when my husband and I go to Shakespeare Santa Cruz with a group of friends, we get together and share our spoils during a picnic before the performance. We also share what we have left during intermission. And because of the very nature of Shakespeare Santa Cruz – a wonderful laid-back way of seeing great plays and marvelous acting in the Sinsheimer-Stanley Glen – one can also partake of a little libation as the play unfolds.

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Dining - Wine Reviews

Pleasant Valley Zinfandel 2006

Pleasant Valley Zinfandel 2006

Most red wine drinkers love Zinfandel. It’s a grape that grows well in California – producing spicy, jammy wines of varying intensity. I have a hard time steering my husband toward anything else, in fact. If we’re out for dinner, he nearly always orders Zinfandel.

When it comes to locally produced Zin, we are very fortunate. We have wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation making some of the best there is in our Golden State. On a wine-tasting trip to Pleasant Valley Vineyards, I thoroughly enjoyed all of their wines – especially the Austin Craig Zinfandel 2006 ($33). All the typical aromas of Zinfandel are present – lots of raspberry, blackberry, cherry and plum. There’s a spicy pepper in there, too. You just know it’s going to be wonderful from the very first sniff.

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Dining - Wine Reviews

Bargetto Winery CHARDONNAY 2006

Bargetto Winery CHARDONNAY 2006

The hot days of summer are finally here – the time of year when I gravitate more toward white wines than red. A light and fruity Pinot Grigio for an outdoor lunch, or a crisp Chardonnay for dinner on a warm evening seem so much more appealing than a heavy Pinot Noir or a meaty Merlot. Of course, living on the cool coast as we do, we still get those chilly evenings all through July, August and September – when the aforementioned reds can be just the right libation for one’s evening meal.

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The Peace Equation

Sunday is the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, a global peace-building day when nations, leaders, governments, communities and individuals are invited to end conflict, cease hostilities, creat 24 hours of non-violence and promote goodwill. Monday is Autumn equinox as the Sun enters Libra (right relations with all of life). The Soul Year now begins. We work in the dark part of the year (Persephone underground) preparing for the new light of winter solstice. Tuesday to Wednesday is the Virgo new moon festival. We know two things about peace. “The absence of war does not signify peace.” And “Peace is an ongoing process.” In its peace-building emphasis, the UNIDP, through education, attempts to create a “culture of peace, understanding and tolerance”. Esoterically we are reminded of the peace equation: “Intentions for goodwill (and acting upon this intention) create right relations with all earth’s kingdoms which create (the ongoing process of) peace on earth.” At noon on Sunday, in all time zones, millions of participating groups will observe a moment of silence for peace on earth. Bells will ring, candles will be lit, and doves released as the New Group of World Servers recite the Great Invocation (humanity’s mantram of direction). To connect with others around the world see www.cultureofpeace.org    Let us join together with the mother (Virgo). Goodwill to all, let peace prevail on earth. The dove is the symbol for the day.
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