Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 18th
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Sarah’s Vineyard

dining_sarahvineyardPinot Noir 2009

Ever since Café Rio opened its doors recently – with brand new owners at the helm – this lovely ocean-view restaurant has done extraordinarily well. Restaurant news spreads quickly in the Santa Cruz area, and the word is that Café Rio has regained its reputation of old and is serving up some excellent food, including their famous and much-loved sand dabs.

Dying to check the new vibe, I finally get there with a friend for a light dinner from the bar menu  – knowing ahead of time that I would order of one of my favorites – seared ahi tuna. We also order some delicious smoked salmon and tender deep-fried calamari.

Pinot Noir might not be the best wine pairing with seafood, but Café Rio carries Sarah’s Vineyard Pinot, which I particularly love. Here’s a winery that is producing some really fine wines of late – including one of my all-time favorite Chardonnays – and many of their wines have won prestigious awards.

This very fruit forward Pinot Noir, Central Coast ($33 at Café Rio), is chock full of dark berries with a warm, spicy finish and a touch of vanilla. It’s the sort of wine that when you’ve had a long bracing walk on the beach, you can pop into Café Rio and just enjoy a glass by itself – with or without the ahi tuna.

Sarah’s Vineyard, 4005 Hecker Pass Highway, 1-877-44.PINOT or (408) 847-1947. Café Rio, 131 Esplanade, Aptos, 688-8917.

WINE Events

Alfaro Family Vineyards–A Nightof Wine & Dine

Join Ella’s Italian Restaurant in Hollister for an evening of elegant wine flights and unique food offerings. The event will feature Alfaro Family Vineyards of Corralitos with winemaker Richard Alfaro as the guest of honor. The event is Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. and the cost is $55 for a five-course dinner. Call Ella’s Italian Restaurant to reserve your seat: (831) 638-0338.

Half Moon Bay Food & Wine Fare

The Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association presents the second annual food and wine festival at the Oceano Hotel & Spa and Harbor Village Shops in Half Moon Bay. More than 20 wineries from the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation will be featured – offering wines by the taste or by the bottle. Purchase a wine glass for $5 and wine tickets are $1 each. A taste of wine depends on the winery and will be between two to five tickets. Come hungry because local Half Moon Bay restaurants will be cooking up some impressive food for sale – for $5 to $20. Admission is free. Saturday, Nov. 5 from noon to 4 p.m. Info: 685-8463.

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