Tasting Room with a View: Windy Oaks

windy.jpgMake plans for a day in the country – this Saturday April 23 – for a visit to the brand new tasting room at Windy Oaks Estate, in Corralitos.

Especially beautiful this time of year, the rolling vineyards above Corralitos now boast a new venue for the Pinot Noirs and estate Chardonnay created by Jim Schultze and his family winemaking team.

From noon to 5pm this Saturday (and every Saturday from now on) the tasting room is open for free pours of new releases—including the 2009 “one-acre” Chardonnay and the 2008 Proprietor’s Reserve Pinot Noir, plus appetizers, cheese, Corralitos sausage and live music.

Bring your favorite easter bunny— please call to RSVP, 831.724-9562, so Jim and Judy can put your name on the list — and come up for this hilltop Grand Opening. ( If you don’t RSVP, there will be a $15 tasting fee.) You can find out how to get to the winery at 550 Hazel Dell Road, by following the directions on the website.

Luxury Bargain – Windy Oaks pinot splits

windyoaks.jpgWe discovered a great way to have our Pinot and drink it too, so to speak. These half-bottles of Windy Oaks Estate Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains 2007, are available at New Leaf for a mere $18.99.  You can enjoy the complex licorice and black cherry spice of winemaker Jim Schultze’s elegant creation for significantly less than the larger, full size bottle. Although, let’s face it, in the case of elegant Pinot Noir, more is always better.

Check out the glass-to-bottle ratio in this image. Rather Alice in Wonderland, no? We enjoyed a demi-bouteille recently with a dinner of homemade chile verde. Sensational combination.

La Honda’s Dreamy Sauvignon Blanc

lahonda.jpgAn elegant Sauvignon Blanc, 2009  by bay area winery La Honda, made from Sonoma grapes. We loved its infusion of stargazer lily and cantaloupe, its middle of grassy minerals and grapefruit, and its crisp citrusy finish.

We loved the way it partners Black Forest ham as well as scallops.  And we also loved its $14.99 pricetag. At New Leaf.

Pinots and more pinots!

Just in case you think that wine tasting is a piece of cake, check out this sea of stemware—and pinot.jpgthis is only partial snapshot—up at the historic Burrell Schoolhouse, yesterday, where a few dozen of us worked through four flights of Santa Cruz Mountain pinot noirs for ranking at this year’s Pinot Paradise.

(That’s Hallcrest’s John Schumacher at far left and Big Basin’s Bradley Brown right, front.)

Cellar Door

squid.jpgHere is something rococo—and delicious—we sampled last week from the hand of Cellar Door chef Jarod Ottley.  A froth of tender local squid, accompanied by pink grapefruit and pea sprouts dotted a long mound of quinoa. Brilliant crimson beet puree accompanied and a slick of rich date confit provided the sweet visual accent.

A lot going on. All of it good. We partnered our meal last week with glasses of never-better Nebbiolo and Cigare 2006, from the oeno-mind of Randall Grahm. And yes, Cellar Door service is outstanding.

Cabrillo Wine Dinner

sesnoncabrillo.jpgThe lovely Pino Alto dining room at Cabrillo’s historic Sesnon House, formed a graceful backdrop for some cool jazz and exciting food and wine pairings last Wednesday evening.The highlights for me were the elegant sounds of Hot Club Pacific trio (who also hold down the house at Soif each Monday night), and the well-trained students from Mike Wille‘s advanced culinary class, who served, cleared endless dishes and stemware, and served some more throughout the evening. The evening, this year’s version of the recent “Dare to Pair” wine & food event, marked the mid-term exam of Wille’s young team.

Another highlight was an engaging match of Continue reading “Cabrillo Wine Dinner”

Grapes and More Grapes

forklift.jpgLast Friday I watched one of many busy forklifts in the immediate vicinity of Kelly’s, gently placing its load of pinot gris grapes down at the front door of Pelican Ranch Winery.

Offered a taste, I savored the robust sweetness of this future 2010 vintage, grapes freshly picked out at vineyards near the Mission San Antonio. One of the best flavors of fall in our next of the woods. Freshly-harvested wine grapes.

Harvest Wine

That rich, sweet, musky aroma you smell this week is wine grapes overflowing their fermenting bins all harvest_celebration.jpgover the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Why not visit some small wineries and see how the crush of 2010 is going?

This weekend, October 16 and 17, the Summit Harvest Festival opens the tasting room doors of Burrell School, Hunter Hill, Loma Prieta and Poetic Cellars — come taste wines, savor special harvest decor and some treats involving pears, apples and pumpkins as you talk with winemakers about their new harvest of grapes.