Ocean breezes called us

Row of vintage wine bottles in a wine cellar (shallow DOF; color toned image)
Row of vintage wine bottles in a wine cellar (shallow DOF; color toned image)

Have you noticed its been hot, hot, hot? No, I mean really HOT! I drove by a local church and the message board said, “Satan called and he wants his weather back.”

The Navigator suggested we head to the coast and use our passports to the Santa Cruz Mountain Wineries. Great call. I’ve been wanting to visit the new Storrs Winery in the Corralitos area. There are now four wineries in this small, cool region just south of Aptos including Windy Oaks, Alfaro and Nicholson. I also wanted to visit The Stomping Ground in Gilroy, This is where Alara Cellars is located, along with Jason-Stephens, Calerrain and J. Winston Winery. Alara’s Grenache Blanc was the best of show winner in the Central Coast Wine Competition. The owner/winemaker is Janu Goelz and her production is around 1,000 cases. Her wines are well balanced and fruit forward. Her Tempranillo, Barbera Rosé and Negrette are high on my list. This is a logical stop on your way to those ocean breezes. Enjoy four excellent small production wineries, in a cool facility and more than likely, the winemaker will be pouring for you.

We made it through our tasting “work day” and ended up in Monterey. Two days later we reluctantly returned home, body temperatures normal.

Gold Medal Winners Under $20

Here are some of the winners from the Central Coastal competition.

Bargetto Pinot Grigio 2017, Brady Vineyards Petite Sirah 2016, Bridlewood Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Broken Earth Tannant 2015 and Muscatel NV, Buttonwood Syrah Rosé 2017, Cass Vineyard Mr. Blanc 2017, Castoro Cellars Chardonnay 2016, Conrad Viano Zinfandel Port 2014, Donati Family Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Ink Works Red Blend 2016, Robert Hall Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Rosé de Robles 2017 and Chardonnay 2017, Santa Barbara Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Zotovich Vineyards Pinot Noir 2016 and Harmony Cellars Riesling 2017. Three double golds under $20 are Niven Family Wines Tangent 2016, Santa Barbara Winery Dry Riesling 2015 and Zotovich Chardonnay 2016.

What’s on our table

This week is the 2017 Cardella Rosé of Sangiovese. On a recent trip returning from Paso Robles, we make a detour to Mendota to visit Cardella Winery to sample the new releases from winemaker Joseph Maldonado. The Rosé of Sangiovese just knocked our flip-flops off as the Navigator screamed “strawberries, strawberries!” It took a gold medal at the International Rosé Competition in Colorado. It is available at Total Wine, Appellation 99 and Sierra Nut House in Fresno, at Bella Luna Restaurant in Merced and of course on-line. Is it worth the drive to a beautiful Tuscan Village in Mendota? Yes. Cin Cin!

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