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on the pathway to pinot paradise

Saturday (3/15/06) I did some wine tasting, visiting some of the wineries participating in this year's Pinot Paradise, a yearly tasting/educational/etc. event put on by the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association. I opted for the simple self-guided part of things, vising four wineries, putting a priority on visiting ones which weren't often open for tasting.

First off for Nicholson Vineyard, on Pleasant Valley Road (any one else a Monkees fan from WAY back?? ;-) ). They had chardonnays as well as pinots available to taste. I particularly liked the chards; oakier than most but still nicely flavorful. The pinots were less to my taste, but interesting. As with many of these lil wineries... they're lil wineries, nearly boutique, with prices to match. However, I did find out that their wines are sometimes carried by Trader Joe around the holidays, and also in a wine store in Los Gatos, which is good info to have.

Next was Alfaro, which is kinda near Nicholson, though in a different city (I haven't yet figured out exactly where Corralitos is, despite visiting it a couple times now!). I'd been there before, and liked it, so went again. :-) The Schultz (sp?), my favorite, was big and yummy, the Alfaro Estate was a bit softer and fruitier, I think a good share-with-friends-casually wine. Both of the Santa Lucia Highlands label wines were good.

The third winery was a wee bit of an adventure to find... so small it doesn't have a real address, and even my Thomas Guide couldn't pinpoint it, let alone the GPS in the car. However, it really wasn't that bad, just keep driving up the road... and arrive at Silver Mountain Vineyard. It is an organic vineyard.

I think this would make a spiffy lunch point for a group, if that could be arranged (this is one of the rarely open for tasting places).Has a wonderful view. I was surprised by the number of wines they had. It was fun chatting with guy behind the counter... the owner, who'd purchased the abandoned vineyard 30 years ago, replanted, made the winery, etc.

I tried about three of his six chardonnays.. the first two were quite dry, the third unexpectedly (to say the least! I like a surprise) sweet. I ended up splitting a case of the (I think '03) Loma Prieta; almost stony, yet a nice depth and very drinkable. I tried about four of the pinot noirs; all were good (and again pricey... not obscene l, I just don't often spend $30+ without a specific reason, my own flaw, I know!).

Finally we wound over to Burrell School Vineyard, which really is located in an old red school house. They've had great fun with the interior, writing "I will sip my wine" on the blackboards etc (that phrase is also feature on their gear). This place had TONS of wines; we didn't even get to the intriguing syrahs, zins, and blends. This was the only place that really was doing barrel tasting, and it was really fun to start with the 2005 pinto (which was very promising!) and go on from there. They stayed late for us (and a couple other tasters), which was nice.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Mar. 27th, 2006 08:54 pm (UTC)
This sounds intriguing, thank you for the report!!!! We are in somewhat of a quandry as to what to do and where to go for this year's VintaCon. This may fit the bill. The Brurell School Vineyard especially appeals to the school marm in me!
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )