Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 30th
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Ridge Vineyards

dining_ridgevineyardThree Valleys 2008
When seven women go out for dinner, it’s not necessarily guaranteed that the noise level will be kept to a minimum. We decided to dine at Center Street Grill because we could have our own cozy corner in the spacious restaurant and a few decibels of heated conversation would not disturb other diners.

Center Street Grill now has a full bar, so it’s a good spot to go for that after-work glass of wine or gin and tonic. They carry some Santa Cruz Mountains wines, too, a fact which always gains high marks in my book.

Ridge Vineyards has long been a member of the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association (SCMWA) and is a very well known and prestigious winery. I was pleased to see Ridge on the wine menu at Center Street Grill and I ordered a bottle of Three Valleys ($30) for us all to share.

The Ridge Three Valleys is a blend of 74 percent Zinfandel, 11 percent Petite Sirah, 5 percent Carignane, 4 percent Mataro, 3 percent Syrah and 3 percent Grenache. It takes a knowledgeable and experienced winemaker to blend all these different wines together and get it all just right. But then, Ridge has been in business for five decades, and has a fine team of expert winemakers to make sure that every bottle of wine is made to a high standard.

Three Valleys contains grapes from seven different vineyards, with all the hand-harvested fruit being carefully selected. Zinfandel is the most prominent grape, so the wine’s varietel character is decided from that. Zinfandel lovers will appreciate the typical characteristics of raspberry, cherry and peppery spicy fruit. This really is a lovely wine–aged nine months in the barrel–full of flavor and ready to be drunk now or a few years down the road.

I had ordered one of Center Street Grill’s Tuesday specials—a hearty plate of fettuccini and chicken, which came with a lovely fresh garden salad. The luscious and zesty Three Valleys was a delicious accompaniment.

Ridge Vineyards, 17100 Monte Bello Road, Cupertino, (408) 867-3233. Tasting room open Saturday and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and until 5 p.m. from April through October. And 650 Lytton Springs Road, Healdsburg, (707) 433-7721. Open daily. Center Street Grill, 1001 Center St., Santa Cruz, 423-4745. Check out the website for excellent dinner specials, including a three-course dinner for $16.95 and bottles of wine half price on Thursdays.

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