Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 24th
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Pleasant Valley Vineyards

wine_cheeseSyrah 2008, Sean Boyle Family Reserve

Pleasant Valley Vineyards is making some splendid wines these days. Their Sean Boyle 2008 Syrah Family Reserve is absolutely top notch – and, at $40, is worth the splurge.

The grapes for this luscious beauty are grown at Lester Family Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Lester property is well worth a visit (see event info below) when the opportunity arises. Their acres and acres of perfectly tended vines – which, in turn, produce perfect grapes – is an awesome sight, indeed.

But back to the Syrah: As it says on the label, it is handcrafted from nurtured, hand-trained, de-leafed and harvested vines. It is then aged exclusively in small oak barrels, and bottled unfiltered and unfined – giving a richer and denser mouthfeel. Some vintners believe that unfiltered and unfined wine – which means that small particles found in wine are not removed – leads to greater flavor. Certainly winery owner Craig Handley has captured a maximum amount of flavor in his 2008 Syrah. It’s just bursting with flavors of dark fruit, licorice and earthy spices. When Handley and his wife Cathy established their winery in 1996, their goal was to make excellent wine from the very best grapes – and for the last 15 years they have been doing exactly that.

Pleasant Valley Vineyards’ wines are produced and bottled on their premises and “inspired by the family grandchildren, grandniece and grandnephew.” You will see their names on the labels as each wine has been named after them – specifically in their honor.

Pleasant Valley Vineyards, 600 Pleasant Valley Road, Aptos, 728-2826.

Wine Events: Burgundian Extravaganza

Pleasant Valley Vineyards and Lester Family Vineyards are putting on a Burgundian Extravaganza at the Lester Family Ranch in Aptos that’s not to be missed. This excellent wine and food pairing takes place on Saturday, Aug. 13 from noon to 4 p.m. – with wine sales until 4:30 p.m. SmoQe BBQ will be there with their delicious wood-fired pizza – and many other kinds of delectable food will be served as well. Ticket prices are from $30 to $60 and must be purchased in advance. Info: 728-2826 or

Wine Walk

We all love the First Friday Art Tour, and now we will have more to love as a Wine Walk has been added as well. This is an opportunity to sample local wines from more than 20 local wineries at your favorite First Friday venues. You can buy your ticket at, at various locations throughout town, or from the Museum of Art & History (MAH). The cost is $20, a portion of which benefits MAH, and includes a commemorative wine glass. Friday, Aug. 5, 5-9 p.m.

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