Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 27th
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wine glassCinsault 2012

Unlike many local vintners, who have time only on weekends to concentrate on the enology business, John Locke’s life revolves around wine. Locke is the wine director at Soif, the upbeat wine bar and eatery in downtown Santa Cruz, and when it comes to making his own fine nectar, he and his business partner Alex Krause excel. Their Cinsault 2012 ($21 from Soif) is made with premium old-vine grapes from Bechthold Vineyard, which is reputed to be the oldest continuously farmed vineyard in the Lodi AVA.

Often used as a blending grape, the heat-tolerant Cinsault (pronounced SAN-soh) has become one of my new favorite reds. The winemakers say that it’s a surprisingly versatile variety, the product of 126-year-old vines, planted by Joseph Spenker in 1886. “As a component of our rose, it radiates nothing but sunshine, tenderness and light. As a red wine, it reveals added dimensions of rock, earth and deep dark fruit.”

Birichino, meaning naughty or mischievous in Italian, makes around half-a-dozen different varietals, including a fabulous Malvasia Bianca (another personal favorite) and an exotic Muscat Canelli, with aromas of nectarine, honeysuckle and mandarin zest. It is a small-production winery, and doesn’t have a tasting room, so your best bet is to head to Soif, talk to Locke and taste some of his wines right there.

Soif Wine Bar & Restaurant, 105 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, 423-2020. and

Chaminade Farm-to-Table Dinner

The next Farm-to-Table dinner coming up at the beautiful Chaminade Resort & Spa is at 6 p.m. on Friday, July 11. This one will feature Coke Farms and Kathryn Kennedy Winery. Always served outdoors on the terrace, a farm-to-table dinner is a truly delightful wining and dining experience, where executive chef Kirsten Ponza provides culinary wonders, and local farmers and vintners show off their stuff. Tickets are $80, plus tax and gratuity. Treat yourselves and stay overnight at Chaminade. Visit for more information.

Cooking with Friends of Hospice

Friends of Hospice, the volunteer fundraising arm of Hospice of Santa Cruz County, has put out a cookbook of delicious recipes entitled “Cooking with Friends of Hospice,” compiled from the organization’s friends, families and staff. (My recipe for English scones is in there somewhere.) Actually, the cookbook has been out for some time, but I was reminded recently at a Hospice golf fundraiser that it’s still on sale. The cookbook is available from Hospice of Santa Cruz County headquarters, Mint in Scotts Valley, and Shopper’s Corner in Santa Cruz. The cost for the book is $15; for more information visit

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