The Annual Silicon Valley Wine Auction offered a collage of wines from the region.
Winemakers from Corralitos to the Peninsula gathered to pour their wines.
All the wines were made with grapes sourced from the Santa Cruz Mountain AVA.
Enjoy the tour!
Thank you, Santa Cruz Mountains Wine Growers Assoc., for the invitation to cover the 2019 SVWA!
I volunteered for the Santa Cruz Mountain Winegrowers Association (Link) for almost four years.
During that time, I cut my teeth on SCM varietals.
These local wines became the foundation for my wine palate.
Without meaning to, I often compare and contrast the wines from other regions to my local wines.
Some SCM wines are smooth, some silky, others light, others hearty.
Producing wines that are tannic, to raw, to elegant in palate, the region is a wine playground
within reach of the beach and the nation's tech capital.
A toast to your collage of wines!
Looking for wines in Monterey County? Read on...
Sunday, June 23, 1-5pm at Equinox Tasting Room, Santa Cruz
Join Nicole Walsh, owner & winemaker of Ser Winery for a Pop-Up Tasting!
Enjoy Wine Flights and Wines by the Glass
Nicole is a Santa Cruz based artisan winemaker “specializing in varietal, vineyard designated,
old world style wines, produced in a natural way...”
Come relax and savor wines made with a fresh, yet experienced approach!
For more on Nicole and her wines at Ser Winery, visit: www.serwinery.com/
Closures. I don't mean the relationship kind.
But the kind that keep the desirable in and the unwanted out in wine.
Closures can seem like such a random idea, but we use closures daily in a host of ways.
Opening and shutting the fridge, the jam jar, a car door, or entering/exiting our places of work.
Wine closures may be low on the list of dinner topics, but key when opening a bottle of wine at the end of the day or when hosting friends. If a wine is not closed or sealed right, it can spoil. After growing the grapes, making the wines, and distributing it to customers, if too much or too little oxygen is allowed in the stored wine, it can make or break what you drink in your glass!
Closures come in a variety of styles: natural cork, compressed cork, synthetic (a.k.a.) plastic cork, and twist tops. Newer to the scene are Plant Based Closures.
Made with sugar cane based polymers, these corks are "easy on the environment, recyclable, and provide a reduced carbon footprint." Best of all, they offer a more predictable closure, giving winemakers the controls to allow more or less oxygen absorption into their bottled wines. This makes for more stable and constant wines, so you can be more confident of your purchase.
A taste is worth a thousand words. Ergo, the Cabernet Experimental Palate Test.
Don J. Huffman, Wine Quality and Education Manager at Vinventions (Link)
lead a WIN Expo session on the affect of closures, oxygen management, and how closures can be tailored to different wine styles and needs.
The tasting included three 2014 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons.
(Bonus tasting: a 5 year old Sauvignon Blanc, which was still fresh and bright!)
What happened? Attendees voted on their favorite wine of the three.
All three wines offered different color, flavor, and aroma profiles!
If your wine comes with a foil wrapper at the top, how do you know what kind of cork closure is used and how to lay your wine?
Closures are one more aspect to consider when looking for that bottle of Syrah or Fiano. While you may not be thinking corks vs. twist tops, every closure allows or blocks a certain
amount of transferable oxygen—which influences the flavor profiles of your wine.
From luxury winemakers to low-cost fast-rotation wines, each wine needs something different.
Just as each wine customer is looking for something different.
Here's to the right closures; so your wine can open up to its full potential and beauty!
For a look at Five Wine Trends for 2019...more
Dare to Pair 2019
Local Culinary, Hospitality, and Wine students offered an event
to rival the Bay Area food and wine scene.
The Cabrillo College students spent almost two months preparing for the Dare To Pair.
Small bites were beautifully plated.
Each dish presented its own flavor elements to pair with the wine students chose.
Food and wine were served under awnings, deep in the dark cellars, in tasting rooms,
and under the gorgeous Santa Cruz sun.
All of the wines were gifted by Surf City Vintners (Link).
A heartfelt “Thank you” to each winery who donated their wines for the D2P and to
the Cabrillo Culinary, Wine, and Hospitality Program throughout the year!
Cheers to you for supporting our local students and the wine and food industry.
A 'thank you' to Chef/Instructor Jeremy and Chef/Instructor Eric from Cabrillo College!
Guests enjoy the pairings and time together. Cathy Bentley, D2P's faithful coordinator!
#1 Host Winery, Equinox Winery
Team: Hannah S., Kim T., China P., and Elaina G.
Dish: “Provencal Pies.” These upscale artisan pot-pies offered flavors of lemon chicken, with roasted garlic, and a swirled topping of brown butter mashed potatoes.
Wine: 2001 Equinox Sparkling Blanc de Blanc, Santa Cruz Mountains.
Pairing Highlights: Honey, apricot, and yeast notes from the Champagne-method sparkling-wine perfectly accented the buttery-rosemary crust, the earthy carrots and poultry, fresh lemon, and decadent mashed potatoes. As one taster said, “Chicken and bubbles go well together.”
Destination: This dish took me to a farm-to-table dinner set in an apple orchard. Long, narrow farm tables are covered with white linens and jars of field flowers. Complete with hanging lights, and warm evening breezes.
#2 Sones Winery
Team: Natasha F., Jessie C., Alekzander M-N., and John B.
Dish: Hamachi crudo with fresh citrus, avocado, and leche de tigre sauce.
Wine: The“Hedgehog” is a blend of Torrantes and Sauvignon Blanc, California
Pairing Highlights: The fresh, almost floral white wine set the stage for this clean-flavored dish. The compilation was a soothing orchestration of 9 plating elements. An attractive color palate greeted the eye.
Destination: Appreciate this Californian-Asian inspired pairing in a metropolitan highrise—complete with a view of the city lights and night time stars.
#3 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard
Team: Joseph R., Fatima D., Thomas G., and Jade B.
Dish: Sopes de Carnitas de Pato con Mole
Wine: 2015 Melange Rouge, Santa Cruz Mountains.
Pairing Highlights: Thick, rich, and full of balanced flavors, the subtle chili and chocolate of the Mole paired well with the earthy duck. The acidity of the pastoral Melange wine rounded out the dish, giving the pairing cohesion.
Destination: This is the dish to savor with friends during a midnight dinner tucked in a Spanish courtyard.
#4 Quinta Cruz Wines
Team: Conall M., Max G., Ismael A., and Julie P.
Dish: Manchego and Almond Stuffed Squid
Wine: 2016 Sauzao, Santa Cruz Mountains.
Pairing Highlights: Tasters enjoyed pan-seared squid stuffed with Manchego cheese, garlic, tomatoes, and almonds, atop arugula leaves. The browned squid, the subtle crunch of the almonds and notes of creamy cheese played off each other with an affinity.
Destination: Get your style on because this pairing would be perfect for a pop-up dinner at a home. Artists, musicians, writers, and food lovers would wax-on eloquently about this combination.
#5 Storrs Winery:
Team: Laura R., Alex A., Gabe A., and Damian F.
Dish: Bunuelos de Bacalao with Chili/Lime Aioli
Wine: 2017 Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains
Pairing Highlights: The salinity of the fish fritters, the light but full flavored Chardonnay, and the peppery arugula were an enticing flavor trio. The chili mayo gave this dish a powerful punch.
Destination: This dish took me to a beach side cafe' on the Iberian Coast. The lapping water and salty sea air would add to this pairing.
#6 Bottle Jack Winery
Team: Sean A., Michael G., Sarah C., and Anita L.
Dish: Durham Ranch Braised Wild Boar with Porcini Polenta and Pickled Fennel
Wine: 2016 Firenze Tuscan Blend, Santa Clara County
Pairing Highlights: The alluring flavors of the wild boar and umami polenta tied the knot with the Firenze. The wine's dark cherry, acidic, earthy, and almost farmyard flavors guaranteed tasters would hold a fork in one hand, and a glass of wine in the other.
Destination: This dish will transport you to a hidden French bistro. The type of place where the locals eat, and tourist hope to get reservations.
#7 Silver Mountain Vineyards
Team: Susan C., Erin D., Natalie B., and Wednesday H.
Dish: Grilled Ostrich Sausage with Potato Croquette and a Red Wine Gastrique
Wine: 2012 Oscar's Wild Red blend, Santa Cruz Mountains
Pairing Highlights: Simply put, if this team decides to market and sell their sausage, I'll be their first customer. The balanced flavors of herbs, hints of dried cherries, and Manchego cheese give a bit of richness to the lean sausage. Starchy potato and fresh greens round out this dish, while the Merlot in the wine-blend offers soft tannins and dark berry flavors.
Destination: Picture yourself siting on the dining-deck of a snow-capped mountain resort. The blue sky, warm sun, and fresh air will whet your appetite for this arresting dish.
#8 Bartolo Wines
Team: Konrad S., Fajah J., and Jennifer P.
Dish: Braised Pork Belly with Green Garlic Puree, Cauliflower and Herb Sauteed Fava Beans.
Wine: 2013 Grenache, Santa Clara Valley
Pairing Highlights: This pairing is full of striking contrasts. The rich, smokey flavors of the pork belly. The green, grassy flavors of the garlic. The cruciferous, fresh cauliflower and fava beans. All these tastes met up with the rich, yet smooth, Grenache.
Destination: Tuck into this pairing while at an Eastern European restaurant. From your seat, you can see the chef in the kitchen cooking and braising the pork belly. Outside are views of presidential palaces.
The 10th Annual D2P Awards....
Favorite Wine: 2001 Equinox Sparkling Blanc de Blanc, Santa Cruz Mountains
Favorite Dish: Wild Boar
People's Choice Awards for the Best Wine & Food Pairing (guest polls)
1st Sones Cellars and Hamachi crudo
2nd Bottle Jack Wines and Wild Boar
3rd Bortollo Wines and Braised Pork Belly
The Judges Awards for the Best Wine & Food Pairing
1st Bottle Jack Wines and Wild Boar
2nd Bortollo Wines and Braised Pork Belly
3rd Sones Cellars and Hamachi crudo
Professional and hospitable, the students' dishes were noteworthy!
As one taster shared, “the Culinary programs of our colleges need our support.”
To donate to the Cabrillo College Culinary, Hospitality and Wine Program,
or to dine at the student-run Pinot Alto Restaurant, visit (Link.)
Until next year's D2P,
For a behind the scences look at D2P and its origins, visit my post....
Each year, people from the global wine world come together for North America's Unified Wine and Grape Symposium (Link.)
A hot topic each year is Wine Trends.
The forecast for wine fans and the industry, & what to keep an eye on.
Today's Rose' has matured. She and can proudly hold her head high,
lift her chin, and be chosen for her merits—not just good looks.
Rose' isn't the Hershey bar of wine anymore. It may have been an easy go-to wine when people wanted something a bit sweet, served very chilled, or just looked pretty in the glass.
It was easy to grab on the end-cap.
Jason Haas, of Tablas Creek Vineyard, (Link) shared that some tasters say, "I don't drink Rose'.”
Since it's already on the tasting menu, the staff encourage guests with
"Just try it. It won't cost you anything.”
Hugh Chappelle of Quivira Vineyards (Link) shared that Rose' is "one of the most technically challenging wines to make outside of sparkling wine. Rose' is a very difficult matrix.”
Tasters are often pleasantly surprised by how well Rose' pairs with foods and what it has to offer.
Rose' is for women and not masculine. It's too sweet, and it's something you serve in hot weather.
Guys like Rose'. It can be bone-dry, not sweet. It's wonderful on a rainy day or any time of the year.
Rose' can be found in approachable price points.
Budget: < $10. Serve with pasta topped with veggies, and parmesan.
High end: > $10. Serve with grilled chicken or pork, fresh herbed bread, and spring greens.
Premium: > $20 Serve with seafood, fresh strawberries or melon, or mushroom risotto.
California is home to envy inducing Rose's. You can always find a selection at your local big box grocery store. Even better, you can find Rose' in almost every California wine region and tasting room.
It's rare to find the winemaker who has all the capital needed to start a winery. From the land, to winemaking facilities, the tasting room, supplies, and staffing—the costs add up. Many winemakers are turning to sharing or renting tasting room space with other wineries. Another trend is using custom crush services for winemaking needs.
Crush facilities can allow winemakers to bring in their grapes, crush, ferment, age, and bottle their wines under their own labels. And winemakers can still be hands on, making their wines. It's similar to a personal chef renting a commercial kitchen, instead of building and paying for one of their own. They are still the chef.
#3 Beverage Competition
Wine is in competition. It's vying for your attention.
With only so much shelf space in a store,
it's trying to keep its voice in a sea of beverages, which include:
-Non-alcoholic mixers and beverages: coffees, ice tea & lemon-aid, juice coolers, flavored sodas, etc.
-Mixed drinks, and wine spritzers, and juice blends.
-Other alcoholic beverages such as beer, and spirits.
-Sports, health drinks, even bottled water.
As much as I like wine, sometimes a kombucha really hits the spot.
Or if I need to drive, a glass of mineral water will have to do.
Beverage options are exponentially expanding.
People are looking for sustainability made products. For the benefit of their health and the world. How do we do this and make it a way of life; not a diatribe? By making small and large changes, even in the wine industry.
#5 Guest Experience
Trends show that tasters are looking for an “experience" along with their wines.
Consumers are drinking better, not necessarily more, wine. Couple that with online wine shopping and there is less opportunity for discovery, or impulse, wine purchases in tasting rooms.
What are tasters looking for? That “something special” to go along with their wine moment--and seeking out wineries who can provide it.
Common wine experience trends include wine and....
But what about small wineries? Or winemakers who don't event have their own tasting room? Are you...near the beach, on a ski route, or close to hiking? A hip, urban winery, or set in a quiet, bucolic setting? Show off what's special about your winery or tasting experience!
Cheers, and clink your glasses to one of these wine trends,
For more Wine Jaunts Beyond the Bay Area, take a look...
Join me at California Wine