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Feb 12th
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Alfaro Family Vineyards & Winery

dining_alfaroPinot Noir 2008
A good friend of mine who I don’t see very often—he lives in Philadelphia—came to visit me for the day, along with a friend who he was staying with in San Francisco. This was my golden opportunity to take them around and show them a little of Santa Cruz in the short space of time we had.

I took them straight to a local winery for a tasting—one of the few open on a Wednesday—as I wanted them to try at least a small selection of our superb local wines before they had to head back north.

Both of these guys were starving, so lunch was next. We were fortunate that day to have perfectly warm and wonderful fall weather, so I take them straight to Hoffman’s in Downtown Santa Cruz, where the food is always good, there’s a lovely outdoor patio to soak up the warm sun, and it’s a good spot for out-of-towners to experience.

Since both my friends are lovers of red wine, I order a bottle of Alfaro Family Vineyards Pinot Noir 2008 Santa Cruz Mountains (about $35 at Hoffman’s), as I knew this would be a safe bet. Richard Alfaro, winemaker extraordinaire, does not cut corners when he makes his famous Pinot. The grapes are grown on his estate, and the wine is produced and bottled there as well. Aged for 17 months in French oak barrels, this deep ruby Pinot is unfined, unfiltered–and exploding with fabulous flavors of raspberry, spiced plums and vanilla. Fining wine means adding dining_wine something to the wine that will draw out particles and tannins; and filtering wine is literally passing the wine through a filter to remove impurities. Many prefer unfined, unfiltered wine as it usually makes for a richer mouthfeel.

Our three plates of food arrive–two of pasta and a mushroom sandwich for my vegan friend–and we all have a fine time eating the wonderful food and polishing off the rest of the Pinot. After reviving with some splendid cappuccino at Hoffman’s, and stopping for locally- made organic ice cream at Mission Hill Creamery on Front Street, we all go down to the Municipal Wharf to check out the sea lions.

Alfaro Family Vineyards, 420 Hames Road, Corralitos. Tel. 728-5172. alfarowine.com. Open Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m.


Wine Events:
Cava Wine Bar in Capitola village is putting on a New Year’s Eve bash with a hosted bar and with hourly toasts of bubbly across the time zones. It’s expected to sell out, so get your tickets early ($60). Cava Wine Bar, 115 San Jose Ave., Capitola, 476-2282. cavacapitola.com.

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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

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