Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 25th
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Kirigin Cellars

wine glassCalifornia Champagne – a Delicious Sparkling Wine

I love to open up a nice sparkler when friends come to visit—and a drop of bubbly always puts one in a celebratory mood.

For about $20, Kirigin Cellars’ sparkling wine is a pretty good deal. Naturally fermented, with a secondary fermentation before bottling, it’s not too sweet and has a touch of finesse present in higher-end sparklers. Using the Charmat method, also used in the making of Prosecco, the second fermentation is done in a large stainless steel tank—rather than in the bottle, as with the traditional méthode champenoise. So if you’re looking for a nice sparkler without breaking the bank, then this one fits the bill. And California certainly tops the list in making Champagne-style bubblies.

Kirigin Cellars was founded in 1916, and is one of California’s oldest wineries. They are particularly famous for a very sexy dessert wine called Vino de Mocha, which is infused with coffee, chocolate and a touch of orange. Kirigin calls it “the Kissing Wine,” which is very appropriate, I’d say.
Tasting is always complimentary at Kirigin, and they don’t use outside distributors, meaning you can only buy their wines direct from them, but the prices are quite reasonable because of this. Even better deals can be found if you buy six bottles (30 percent discount), or a case (50 percent discount). And three or more cases will cost you a flat $100 per case. They also make a Luigi’s Pride 100 percent red wine vinegar for $9.90 a bottle.

Kirigin has a newly built Tuscan-style clubhouse, a 7,000 square-foot state of the art facility for weddings, corporate events and private parties. Surrounded by rose bushes, redwoods and with parking for 130 cars, this beautiful property is a gorgeous spot to hold an event. There is even a cricket pitch where games are regularly held in the summer months. You can visit the sports fields and take a picnic, and the entire family is welcome, including the dog.

Kirigin Cellars, 11550 Watsonville Road, Gilroy. 408-847-8827. Open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Amazon Juices

After setting my teeth into Amazon Juices’ delicious Salmon Salad—an ultra-fresh cornucopia of wild King Salmon on a mixed spring greens salad of roasted beets, cherry tomatoes, hearts of palm, carrots, sprouts, fresh mozzarella cheese, caramelized onions and brown rice, I will definitely be heading to their store to try more. Their breakfast and lunch offerings include sandwiches, salads and fresh juices. Co-owners Luis Frota (who also owns Café Brasil on Mission Street in Santa Cruz) and Natasha Malia-Reber, who both hail from Brazil, are all about fresh and vibrant juices and foods, and keep a watchful eye on the planet by using 100 percent biodegradable to-go containers and utensils.

1066 41st Ave., #105, Capitola, 854-2225. Check out the menu, and order online at

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