Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 19th
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Pleasant Valley Vineyards

dining seanboyleSean Boyle Syrah 2008—a sumptuous wine for spring

I love that Craig and Cathy Handley, owners of Pleasant Valley Vineyards, have named their wines after family members, including nieces and nephews. We have Dylan David, Brittany Morgan, Casey Alexander, Abby Madison, Austin Craig—and Sean Boyle Syrah ($40).

Named for their grand nephew, Sean Boyle, now 5 years old, this luscious family reserve Syrah was expertly crafted from superb grapes grown on the Lester Family Vineyards estate in Aptos. I first tasted it at a Pleasant Valley Vineyards event held on Dan and Pat Lester’s estate—and it was love at first sight (and sip!). 

As the Lester Family Vineyards are situated in the higher elevations of Aptos, they don’t get swamped in coastal fog, and the vines experience a coastal influence of moderately warm days and cool moist nights—a perfect microclimate for producing intense varietal fruit.

Craig Handley shows his magic touch with the quality of his wines, and he always believes in using the finest grapes. The grapes for the Syrah were gently de-stemmed, fermented whole berry and aged in small oak barrels to produce this gorgeous unfiltered and unfined wine with bold peppery, fruity aromas and smoky, meaty flavors. Dark fruit, stewed plums and jam flavors also abound in this dynamic, earthy wine—a perfect partner for meat-driven dishes. But I would pop it open, inhale its bountiful aromas and simply enjoy a glass all by itself.

Pleasant Valley Vineyards’ wines are to be found all over the Bay Area, including fine restaurants such as Manresa in Los Gatos. And it’s well worth a visit to their winery—with a grove of redwood trees to greet you in the middle of the property.


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.

Aptos Chamber Fashion Show

The Aptos Chamber of Commerce is putting on a lunch and fashion show from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 7 at Seascape Beach Resort. Fashions are provided by local stores and music is by Music Now DJ. Tickets are $45 with partial proceeds to benefit the Katz Cancer Resource Center at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz. Reservations required. Call 688-1467 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . 
A humorous aside on the secret of enjoying a good wine: Open the bottle to allow it to breathe. If it doesn’t look like it’s breathing, give it mouth-to-mouth.

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Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

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Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.


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