Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 24th
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Ridge Vineyards

wine_Ridge2007 Ridge Vineyards Three Valleys
What makes a good bottle of wine? Well, in this case, it’s 76 percent Zinfandel, 8 percent Petite Syrah, 7 percent Syrah, 6 percent Grenache, and 3 percent Carignane. I’m talking about Ridge Vineyards’ 2007 Sonoma County Three Valleys. This superb blend made by Ridge Vineyards of Cupertino, is luscious, fruity and sublime. The Carignane, a popular blending wine, adds a nice peppery finish. Bottled in August 2008, it’s ready to drink right now, but it will also keep well for another half dozen years or so.

In case you don’t know about Ridge Vineyards, they’re one of the best known of our local wineries. When I say local, I particularly mean those wineries belonging to the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association (SCMWA). All these wineries are in the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation—which extends from Woodside in the north to Gilroy in the south. This is why we get such a variety of grapes—with a distinctly varied climate that includes everything from the heat of the San Jose area, to the cooling fog of the Santa Cruz coast.

My husband and I meet up with a couple of friends at Vida—mainly to try the food of new executive chef Bobby Madrid. We peruse the wine list and settle on a bottle of Ridge Vineyards’ Three Valleys—something we feel we’ll all enjoy.

My husband gets a fresh fish dish, an absolutely impeccable sea bass, and our friends go for moist and juicy steaks, which they declare to be wonderful. I get a duck cassoulet—simply because it’s different and not found on many menus in our area. This classic French dish is not so easy to cook, either (unless you’re Julia Child). The white beans and various meats, such as goose or duck, have to be cooked slowly so that the flavors can harmonize. And if I’m having a delicious main course, then I want an equally delicious wine to go with it. The Three Valleys (about $22 in stores) is superb—full of ripe fruit and peppery spices. No wonder this winery wins so many awards—consistently turning out an excellent product. Ridge wines can be found in most good supermarkets.

Congratulations to Chef Madrid for his imaginative cuisine. And his desserts are not to be missed. I especially recommend the crème brûlée—it’s lavender scented and tastes divine.


Ridge Vineyards, 17100 Montebello Road, Cupertino, (408) 867-3233,
Vida Lounge & Grill, 1222 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 425-7871.


The Corralitos Wine Trail takes place on Saturday, Sept. 26 from noon to 5 p.m. Alfaro Family Vineyards, Nicholson Vineyards, Pleasant Valley Vineyards, and Windy Oaks Estate Vineyards & Winery are all within an easy six-mile drive of each other—each of them sitting on beautiful property. I can’t think of a better way to spend an autumnal afternoon than tasting the splendid wines of these four wineries.

Advance tickets are $35 and include wine tastings, Corralitos sausages, artisan cheeses, local breads and live entertainment.

Call 786-9463.

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