Exploring the local food and wine scene
Silver Mountain Winery’s Harvest Festival
Mole & Mariachi Festival
Farm-to-Table Dinner at Chaminade
Santa Clara Valley Fall Passport Weekend
Hotel Paradox Features Flamenco Guitar Wednesdays
Located in the northern region of the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation of Monterey County, Lucia Highlands Vineyard is in a prime grape-growing region. Its proximity to the cool maritime influences of the Monterey Bay allows the fruit to ripen slowly, producing a luscious Chardonnay with intense tropical fruit flavors.
Jack Galante wears a cowboy hat, boots and jeans, and looks every inch like he’s right off the range, which is not surprising since a cowboy theme features in everything his winery has to do with wine. I first met him at a wine-tasting event at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands last year, and we had a long chat about his winery and estate wines.
Galante is an affable guy who wants everybody to have fun when they visit his winery. He calls his wine club the “Galante Wine Gang” and his membership tiers “Foreman,” “Trail Boss” and “Wrangler” so I’m sure you get the picture. Wine club membership in the Wrangler category includes one complimentary ticket to the Annual Wine Gang Muster and barbecue at his ranch in the Carmel hills.
“Redemption” Reserve Pinot Noir 2011
By Josie Cowden When visiting Dan and Pat Lester’s property, one is greeted by acres and acres of glorious vineyards. Around this time of year, grapes not already harvested are heavy and luscious. It’s a beautiful sight to behold and it’s obvious that some outstanding wines are going to be produced from this voluptuous fruit.
The Italian word for “redhead” is Testarossa. Years ago, when the co-founder of Testarossa Vineyards, Rob Jensen, was a university student in Italy, he had very red hair, so he was given the nickname “Testarossa”—now the name of his winery.
Although Jensen’s degree is in electrical engineering, a minor in the Italian language and culture led him to Assisi, a hill town perched on Mount Subasio in central Italy. An interest in winemaking was even more heightened by experiencing the wonderful wines of Italy, and by further trips to Europe’s great wine-growing areas. Rob and his wife Diana founded Testarossa Vineyards in the late ’90s on very historic property—the 19th century Novitiate of Los Gatos, where Jesuit fathers still live to this day.
Cabernet Franc 2008
Cabernet Franc is one of my favorite wines, and Burrell School makes a good one. The 2008 Cab Franc ($30) is a beautiful wine—made from estate grapes grown in Pichon Vineyard located on Mount Umunhum above Lexington Reservoir. With its aromas of green tea, tobacco and raspberry and lots of big fruit flavors in the mouth, this smooth wine takes Cab Franc to another level.
Along with his wife Anne, winemaker Dave Moulton started in the wine business back in the ’70s, so to say he has a ton of experience under his belt would be an understatement. I see him often at wine events—always cutting a notable figure in brightly colored pants and snazzy jackets. He’s an ebullient, forthright character—and his personality reflects in his wine, too. He makes big bold wines that are not for the weak-kneed.
There’s nothing like killing two birds with one stone. I had been meaning to write about Rexford Winery for some time, and the opportunity arose after a tasting at Kuumbwa Jazz one evening.
My friends and I arrived early at Kuumbwa for a concert of Zimbabwean music with renowned musician Oliver Mtukudzi. Kuumbwa’s events often include diverse ethnic music concerts—with everything from Spanish flamenco to the Tuareg people of Morocco to Pakistani qawwali singers. The setting is cozy and intimate, and there is always plenty to eat and drink throughout every concert.
In between wining and dining, I wanted to shed light on five local businesses that have hit my radar this summer.
Chardonnay II Winemaker Sails
Annieglass Platemaker Dinner
Redwood Canopy Tours
Peachy Kleen Chem-Dry
Pelican Ranch Winery
Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Although Windy Oaks is known mostly for its outstanding red wines, they are now producing some excellent whites as well. Their new release of Sauvignon Blanc sells for a mere $15 around town, but has been spotted at Deluxe Foods of Aptos for only $11.99. If you need a mouthful of something bright and zingy for summer, then this is your answer.