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Hallcrest Vineyards has been around for a long time. Nestled on a hill in the town of Felton, it was originally a retreat in the late 1800s for the Hall family, who actually planted the Hallcrest Estate vineyard. The on-site winery, which was started in 1945, is still in use today. When releasing its first wine in 1946, it was one of only three vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Today, there are about 70 wineries belonging to the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association (SCMWA) – with new ones springing up all the time.
John Schumacher bought Hallcrest in 1987 – and continues the tradition of making the finest quality wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains. I was happy to see him and his wife Lorraine pouring their wines at the SCMWA Wine & Crab Taste Off in mid-January. My husband and I lingered over tasting them – finally purchasing the 2005 Pinot Noir Terra Serena, Lower Block Santa Cruz Mountains ($45). This dry-farmed beauty with a piquant aroma is one of the best Pinots I’ve had in some time. The Terra Serena vineyard is located on the Northwest-facing slopes of the Corralitos Valley, where the microclimate encourages slow ripening of the grapes – resulting in intensely flavored fruit. With its anise, caramel and dense strawberry earthiness, this special wine is to be sipped and savored – and thoroughly enjoyed.
My husband and I love to try out new restaurants – sometimes taking along a bottle of our own wine to try. Taking our Hallcrest to Main Street Garden & Café turned out to be like taking coals to Newcastle. They already carry a variety of Hallcrest wines – and quite a few other local wines as well. Specializing in pasta and wood-fired pizzas, we were really impressed with our entrees of fabulous sweet potato-stuffed ravioli and perfect pizza. No wonder the place was packed. Superb food and service in this lovely restaurant – not to mention the heavenly wine – made our night out one to remember.
Hallcrest Vineyards, 379 Felton Empire Road, Felton. Toll free: 1-800-699-9463. hallcrestvineyards.com. Open daily for tasting from noon to 5 p.m.
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