Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Sep 16th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Richard Alfaro’s Exotic Expansion

dn alfaroHow white wines are getting him through a mid-life crisis

Driving with Richard Alfaro through his extensive vineyards in full spring green, I get a quick snapshot of what his ever-expanding winery is up to.

I’m following up on the visit I made to the site five years ago when he first planted Grüner Veltliner vines on his Corralitos property. The leading grape of Austria and the Czech Republic, GV is potentially perfect for growing in the warm days and cool evenings of Alfaro’s Corralitos vineyards. Last year, he bottled 70 cases of the initial vintage.

“I’ll do 200 cases this year—the 2013s will be released in June or July,” he roars as we bounce over what can barely be called a road. In addition to an experimental acre of GV, Alfaro admits he’s recently planted an acre each of grenache blanc and albariño. “I think the whites are a mid-life crisis for me,” he laughs. “Instead of buying a sports car.”

The sweeping vineyards sloping toward the horizon on either side of the dirt road indicate that Alfaro is still plenty interested in making Pinot Noir, Syrah and Chardonnay—much of it on certified organic vines, among only 40 CCOF acres in Santa Cruz County. The new experimental plantings mark a turn in his intense, yet playful approach to viticulture. And so does his new bottling of estate Grüner Veltliner, an innovation in California winemaking. Now in its second vintage, the GV is showing so well that last year’s bottling sold out before leaving the tasting room.

Alfaro admits that he found his first Grüner “a bit too acidic.” Nonetheless, “it flew out the tasting room doors.” Sampling the as-yet-unreleased 2013 GV, I admire its bright acidity and very low alcohol. A half hour later, the pale yellow wine opens to reveal a lychee nose and a salt finish. Much of Alfaro’s increasing success comes from the grapes themselves. “I farm 56 acres, and I’m selling a lot of grapes to other winemakers,” he says. He also makes “lots of Pinot Noir—we’re doing great with Pinot,” he points out, “5,000 cases in 2012.”

The cellar yard at Alfaro Family Vineyards bulges with computer-controlled cooling tanks and state-of-the-art presses. With his masses of long hair, huge tan legs barely contained by surfer shorts, Alfaro is still every inch the wild man winemaker and barbecue host. He claims he is slowing down a bit, but still having fun. “In 2013 we made 26 wines,” he informs me. “Twelve Pinots, five Chards, a Carignon, Grüner, two Zins, a Merlot, two Syrahs, a Sangiovese— yeah I’m having a good time.” Many wines and lots to enjoy.

Outstanding Availability: Yes there are a few Outstanding in the Field al fresco dinners in the Santa Cruz area still open for reservations. Can you believe it’s been 15 years since chef Jim Deneven started up this phenomenon? If you’d like to savor the experience of field-prepared dinners in enchanting farm settings, complete with wines, winemakers, and chefs, pencil in these dates. May 18 at Swanton Berry Farm in Davenport. June 11 at the Bonny Doon estate vineyard in San Juan Bautista, and June 15 at Soquel’s Everett Family Farm. For details, pricing, and reservations, go immediately to the www.outstandinginthefield.com website.

Product of the Week:  Friend in Cheeses Fig & Fennel jam! At the top of the OMG category, bright with the earthy bite of fennel, sensuous figs and top notes of orange, vanilla and Chardonnay. Almost like enlightened fig butter. Locally created and my idea of a great souvenir gift for somebody special ($8). A visiting relative, your girlfriend on the east coast, a hostess gift when you sleep over in the city. Yes. Think ahead! Who doesn’t adore artisanal confiture? You know where to look.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Watch List

From Google to the government to data brokers, why your privacy is now a thing of the past

 

A Different Revolution

Aries Moon late Wednesday and Thursday. We think new thoughts and initiate new ideas. Sun in Virgo with Saturn in Scorpio help disciples to create orderly structures to anchor and bring forth new ideas. Stabilizing Taurus moon Friday and Saturday. We anchor new ideas into form and matter, like seeds planted in the soil. We tend them, waiting for green shoots to emerge. Like the gestating Virgo Sun Madonna, awaiting the birth of the holy child, the Soul, the new light at winter solstice. Mercury and Chiron converse about what hurts and what heals.Saturday is a complex day with Mercury (communication), Mars (action!) and Uranus (revolution). Mercury in Libra is opposite Uranus in Aries. Oppositions (recognizing something new appearing over there somewhere) eventually synthesize. Mercury in Libra calls for Right Action and Right Relations, especially with money. Uranus in Aries—the revolution this time must be different.  Also on Saturday, Mars enters Sagittarius. Where are we going, what are our goals, where’s justice, where’s the mountain, do we have good shoes? Sunday Venus trines Pluto—in-depth assessment of money, values and resources. Gemini moon Monday; we talk a lot, tending to tasks in gardens and neighborhoods. Cancer Moon Tuesday and Wednesday; we nurture and nourish. The stars and planets remind us.Note: William Meader, esoteric author & international teacher, will be speaking on “The Soul of Humanity Evolving Through Crisis” at Meditation Mount, 7pm, Friday, Sept. 12.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of September 12

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Wood Fire Woodie

Scotts Valley pizzeria gets fired up the old-school way

 

What's your all-time best Skyview Flea Market score?

Santa Cruz | eBay Business

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Soquel’s Pinot Winner

When you taste Soquel Vineyards’ extraordinary 2012 Partners’ Reserve Pinot Noir, you will know why it won a Double Gold in June at the 2014 San Francisco International Wine Competition.