Here are a few local gift ideas that can be found easily for those hard-to-by-for folk
Wine makes a wonderful gift for Christmas. One can buy wine in an enormous range of prices, so there is something to suit every budget, for sure.
A short drive over Hecker Pass takes us to the rather warmer climes of Morgan Hill, San Martin and Gilroy—and to where many wonderful wineries lie, including the splendid Guglielmo Winery in Morgan Hill. A family-run business for close to 90 years, it continues producing fine wine with brothers George, Gene and Gary Guglielmo at the helm.
Guglielmo makes many different wines, but I absolutely love their Sangiovese Private Reserve 2010, Santa Clara County. With aromatic notes of apricot, peach, nectarine and strawberry, and mouth-pleasing flavors of ripe strawberries and vanilla—and with its balanced acidity—it’s a delicious wine to savor on the tongue. At $18 a bottle, it’s a steal, as they say.
Artesana Winery is a premium winery based in Uruguay which concentrates on Tannat, a red wine grape historically grown in South West France. First introduced by Basque settlers, Tannat is now a prominent grape of Uruguay and plantings are increasing each year.
Artesana Winery is in the acclaimed Canelones region of Uruguay, a prime location for the Tannat grape. Their artisan wines are made from 100 percent estate-grown grapes and hand-crafted by two women winemakers.
My husband and I celebrated our anniversary last month and spent the weekend in one of our favorite nearby getaways—Carmel.
This time we stayed in a newly re-opened boutique inn called Vendange, meaning “late harvest” in French, which is very close to the town center—and it could not have been better. The place is spotless, beautifully decorated, comes with a nice breakfast, and offers a wine and cheese tasting every evening.
Ventana Vineyards’ wines are pretty well known on the Central Coast—their wines can be found all over. And with a brand new label, they are easy to spot on wine store shelves.
The labels are designed to tell the story of Spanish explorer, Gaspar de Portola, who came ashore in Big Sur in 1769. He proceeded inland through what is now called the Ventana Wilderness and looked upon the fertile Salinas Valley through a gap formed in the Arroyo Seco Canyon. The explorer called the gap ‘La Ventana,’ the Spanish word for window. These easy-to-read new labels show exactly what the wine is—in this case an estate-grown Chardonnay, 2012 vintage from Arroyo Seco Vineyards in Monterey, and all sustainably produced.
Pinot Noir Reserve 2011. Wine Events.
During Restaurant Week at the beginning of October, when participating restaurants offer three courses for $25, I met up with a couple of friends at Booka for dinner. One of my friends particularly wanted to go to this fairly new Aptos restaurant because her son is a chef there.
I took along a bottle of Villa del Monte Pinot Noir Reserve 2011, Santa Cruz Mountains William Vincent Vineyard to share. We all had different appetizers and main courses, but the very drinkable Pinot paired nicely with everything. My friends also ordered cocktails from the bar, but I wanted to simply enjoy the well-made Pinot. Smooth and silky, it’s bursting with red fruit and characteristic earthiness. Aromas of spice, leather and caramel and some vanilla and spice in the mouth add to the overall pleasure of drinking this impressive wine ($34). We all loved it.
As we head into fall weather, it is good to stock up one’s wine rack—or cellar, if you have one—with a few robust red wines that will warm the cockles.
Martin Ranch Winery’s 2009 Zinfandel is a hearty two-vineyard blend from the Santa Clara Valley that is perfect to open up as the evening’s chill sets in. This particular wine—under their J.D. Hurley label—can be found all over in markets and liquor stores for around $18. With hints of blackberry jam on the nose and flavors of dark fruit, black licorice and spice, it’s a good pairing with barbecue and pizza. Barrel aged for about 20 months, this blend of 78 percent Zinfandel, 8 percent Petit Sirah and 14 percent Carignane is a full-bodied wine that’s ready to drink now.
Bargetto Winery produces a multitude of good wines—from high priced to very reasonable. I found a Central Coast 2011 Chardonnay in New Leaf for $13.99 (regularly $15)—a pretty good deal for this lovely wine.
A lighter style of Chardonnay, this vibrant straw-colored wine is aged in stainless steel tanks to maintain the true flavors and acidity of the fruit. With a soupçon of lemony zest on the tongue and aromas of citrus on the nose, the wine is very refreshing and bright. The winery suggests pairing it with fish, sushi and Thai food, and I also like this wine with some zesty cheese.