Sunday, February 24, 2013

Santa Cruz Wine Tasting

Northern California is notoriously known for being Wine Country and for good reason. Napa and Sonoma are the cities that probably come to mind but aren't the only places to try great wine. The Santa Cruz Mountains are teeming with less known wineries that are just as promising as wines from the Napa & Sonoma Valley.
This weekend my boyfriend surprised me with a day trip down to Santa Cruz which has always been famously known for its surfing, but has a booming wine community. We arrived at an industrial part of town with 9 different wineries, bakeries, a brewery, and several eateries all within a block's span.

First up was Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard which specializes in Spanish wines like Tempranillo and the less known Graciano. Their wine tasting comprised up of 7 different wines, two white and 5 reds. Those of you that know me, know that I'm not a big white wine fan. The two whites that I tried here were actually fairly decent but not good enough for me to buy a bottle. We got to try a Tempranillo, Tempranillo Reserve, Pinot Noir, Petite Syrah, and a dessert wine called Rabelo. My favorite out of them all was the Pinot Noir and Panda ended up getting the Tempranillo, Tempranillo Reserve and the Petite Syrah. 

Second up was Sone Cellars which only had one decent wine in my opinion which was the Hedgehog. The Hedgehog is a blend of zinfandel and another red wine. The coolest part of the wine was that it was on tap from an oak barrel and has a refillable bottle. The next best part was the cute lab mix that was chilling underneath the tasting table. I will also note that the Petite Syrah had a funky smell and taste to match which is a crying shame.

Next on the list, was the Santa Cruz Mounting Brewing since Panda is a beer maker himself. Here we tried two beers - a tart ale and a stout with Earl Grey tea. Wasn't a fan of the stout which is surprising since they're my favorite, but the Earl Grey tea brought a tobacco essence to the beer that I didn't like. But then again, I had tried 12 wines by the time we hit the brewery. That's the equivalent to 3 glasses of wine and we still had 2 more wineries to go to!!

In between Sone Cellars and Bonny Doon Winery, we made a pit stop at Gary's Old Fashioned Snappy Dogs to get a cheesy polish dog with asiago cheese and sriracha. This dog definitely hit the spot before heading off to Bonny Doon.

I'm not sure if I was too drunk to tell the difference between the wines or if the Bonny Doon Wines were not that great, but they all tasted the same to me which was not that great. Although the first white wine I tried did make the hot dog taste in my mouth go away. The gal at the counter said that the Le Cigare Blanc was a pork lover and made sense that this white would taste good with the hot dog. After looking at their website, I would be willing to give Bonny Doon another shot since they do have a few varieties of Moscato which is my favorite white wine.

Our last wine stop was the Silver Mountain Vineyards which had a decent collection of reds, but as previously mentioned, I was a bit too wined-out to know the difference between the 5 reds I tried. Better luck next time Silver Mountain Vineyards! The staff was very friendly and knowledgeable though.

We had to make 2 more stops before we called it a day. The first was the El Salchichero which was an upscale butcher shop. The final stop was Kelly's French Bakery to quell my never ending sweet tooth. After looking at all of the delectable sweet treats, I decided on a pumpkin chocolate macaroon and a pistachio macaroon. I forgot to take pictures, but all you have to know is that they were an amazing treat to end an eventful day.