Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 16th
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Zayante Vineyards

dining zayante Chardonnay 2010

And a Life on the Ocean Wave By Josie Cowden Sailing out to sea on the Chardonnay II with a glass of Chardonnay in hand is wine-tasting at its best. The two Chardonnays go together like bunches of grapes ripening on a vine.

It was a full boat of merrymakers that evening as my husband and I got onboard. One passenger was celebrating a birthday; others were locals out for a fun evening with a guest from Italy; one couple had received two tickets on the 2010 Chardonnay II as a wedding gift; and some were folks who just love to just go for a Friday night sail with wine tasting. One thing is for certain, drinking a few glasses of wine brings everybody together—and all the passengers sang Happy Birthday to the beaming man celebrating the anniversary of his birth.

The featured winery on this particular sail was Zayante Vineyards. Winery owners Greg Nolton and his wife Kathleen Starkey-Nolton were there to greet passengers and enjoy the evening’s two-hour sail. Along with a couple of their wines being poured—the Chardonnay and a spicy-berry 2009 Zinfandel—plentiful hors d’oeuvres were passed around by members of the crew.

The estate-bottled Chardonnay ($18) is totally produced by Zayante—the grapes are grown on their land, the wine is bottled on the premises—and the Noltens are fastidious about getting everything just right. The luscious flavors of the Chardonnay on the palate are highlighted by toasty oak and a slightly flinty complexity from the soil, and beautiful aromas of crisp green apples and pears make this wine very refreshing and drinkable—and a perfect pairing with seafood.

As we pull in close to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, we can hear the upbeat music coming from one of the free Friday night concerts and the sounds of everybody having a good time. How glorious it is to live in the Monterey Bay.

Zayante Vineyards is not open to the public very often—check their website for dates—but they are now at the Felton Farmers’ Market every Tuesday from 2:30-6:30 p.m. in the St. John’s Church parking lot on Hwy. 9. From May through October you can meet the winemakers there and buy wine from them. They are also open for Passport events four times a year—the next one is coming up on July 21. Info: Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association, Zayante Vineyards, 420 Old Mount Road, Felton, 335-7992,

Chardonnay II Winemaker sailing events take place on Friday evenings all through the summer until Sept. 21. Coming up: July 6 Storrs Winery; July 13 Naumann Vineyards; July 20 Silver Mountain Vineyards; July 27 Savannah-Chanelle Vineyards. Info.

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