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Apr 23rd
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Pleasant Valley Vineyards

dining austincraigAustin Craig Zinfandel 2008 —Big Red Zinfandel 

Looking for a Zinfandel that’s bold, voluptuous and deliciously good? Then let me introduce you to Pleasant Valley Vineyards’ 2008 Austin Craig Zin. Here’s a sinful Zinful if ever there was one. From the time that Craig and Cathy Handley purchased Pleasant Valley Vineyards in 1996, they have been producing some excellent wines—and the 2008 Grand Reserve Zin ($40) is one of them.

It’s completely hand crafted from grapes grown in the Shenandoah Valley in Amador County at Bella Oaks Vineyards. These grapes were gently hand harvested, cold soaked, slowly de-stemmed and fermented whole berry. Then the wine was aged for 24 months in 50 percent American and 50 percent French oak barrels unfiltered and unfined.

With its typical jammy fruit and pepper notes, this very fruity Zin is chock-full of flavors of raspberry, blackberry, cherry and ripe plum. It’s not called Big Red Zinfandel for nothing.

Any non-estate grapes that are used are always carefully selected for their complex characteristics. The Handleys believe that truly great wine can’t be made from inferior grapes, so they always look for the best. Their labels, too, are always well designed and each wine is named after one of their grandchildren, grandniece or grandnephew.

And visiting the winery is always a delight. At a wine-tasting event there recently, the winery was in full party mode and everybody was having a good time. Pleasant Valley Vineyards puts on several events each year (see below for info on their Burgundian Wine and Food Extravaganza), but even on a quiet day at the winery, to loll around on their beautiful property, complete with a stand of redwood trees in the middle, is a lovely experience—especially with a good glass of wine in hand.

Pleasant Valley Vineyards, 600 Pleasant Valley Road, Aptos, 288-0074. The tasting room is open from noon to 4 p.m. most Saturdays from April to September, but call ahead to check. The tasting fee is from$ 10-$15.


Pleasant Valley Vineyard’s Burgundian Wine and Food Extravaganza

Don’t miss this wonderful wine and food pairing from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 18. Pleasant Valley Vineyards will be featuring their 2010 Dylan David Reserve Pinot Noir release and other wines—to be held in the beautiful setting of Lester Family Vineyards in Aptos. Tickets are $45 and must be reserved in advance. Info: Pleasant Valley Vineyards at Wine University at Surf City Vintners The next Wine University educational event will be from noon to 2 p.m. on Aug. 12 at Rexford Winery on the Westside of Santa Cruz. The talk on “Terroir” will be given by Joe Miller of Rexford Winery. To sign up and for more info call 408-353-2278 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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