Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 24th
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Cinnabar Winery

dining cinnabarMercury Rising 2009

Cowden Center Street Grill has started up its Thursday night wine flights for the spring and summer months. Before having dinner at this lovely restaurant recently, I enjoyed a tasting of Cinnabar wines.


Three different Cinnabar wines were being poured—a Chardonnay, a Merlot and their well-known Mercury Rising. After tasting all three, I bought a bottle of the 2009 Mercury Rising to have with dinner. In the winery’s most popular red—a full-bodied wine with a smooth and structured finish—the blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc come together well. The nose has lots of dark fruit and toasted oak—and flavors of berry jam, vanilla, spice, tobacco and sweet oak fill the mouth with a pleasing aftertaste.

A highlight of the evening was having expert winemaker George Troquato there to talk about the wines of Cinnabar, founded in 1981 by the late Tom Mudd, a research civil engineer at Stanford Research Institute. Center Street Grill plans on inviting local winemakers every Thursday to impart knowledge of their craft.

Mercury is extracted from cinnabar, giving this purple-red wine its catchy name of Mercury Rising. At around $20, it is one of the best-selling wines around, and can be found in many local wine stores. I saw it recently on sale in New Leaf for about $16.

Cinnabar Winery’s tasting room is at 14612 Big Basin Way, Saratoga, (408) 867-1012. Center Street Grill, 1001 Center St., Santa Cruz, 423-4745.

Wine Events

Vintners’ Festival
The annual Vintners’ Festival is coming up soon, and will be held on two consecutive weekends from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (restaurants close at 4 p.m.). June 2 & 3 is the Eastern side of the Santa Cruz Mountains, (which includes San Mateo and Santa Clara counties), and June 9 & 10 is on the Western side of the mountains (in Santa Cruz County). Many wineries will be pouring at local restaurants where you can enjoy three or four wineries in one location. Enjoy barrel tasting, music, art and food—and meet the winemakers along the way. Food is either complimentary or can be purchased for a small fee. This is a taste of the Santa Cruz Mountains that is not to be missed. Special attractions include barrel tastings, winery tours, new releases, live music, local chefs, art displays, and more. Cost: $40 in advance, $45 at the door. Info: 685-8463, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or Farm to Table Dinners at Chaminade Chef Beverlie Terra and her team are putting on their fourth series of Farm to Table dinners at the beautiful Chaminade Resort in Santa Cruz. These wonderful outdoor feasts offer a five-course dinner of local produce paired with excellent wines. The first one is at 6 p.m. on June 1 and features Fiesta Farm, Black Hen Farm and Talbott Vineyards. Info:

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written by Casey Dawes, May 24, 2012
Before attending the Vintners' Festival, be sure to get a copy of the TOUR GUIDE FOR THE WINERIES OF THE SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS Tour Guide for the Wineries of the Santa Cruz Mountains for your Kindle. Discover the story behind the bottle that makes Santa Cruz Mountains wines so unique. Available at

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