Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The tasting rooms of Santa Cruz

In conjunction with our memorable visit to Ridge Vineyards we called in on some discreet tasting rooms in Santa Cruz where some interesting "critter producers" as well as Bonny Doon have their wares out for tasting most days.

Bonny Doon is an actual place near Santa Cruz named by Scottish engineers and workers brought in to build the railways in the 19th century. Randall Grahm who has made Bonny Doon vineyard a household name stopped growing wine there quite some time ago and now has his Cellar Door in downtown Santa Cruz having sold the vineyard and re-planted in a 280 acre estate 35 miles from Santa Cruz in San Juan Bautista.


Here we came across a characteristically playful and interesting bottle called Vinho Grinho.

Clever name because this wine is the first Loureiro ever grown and bottled in America. Blended with some Albarino for which Bonny Doon is quite well known, it makes a kind of Vinho Verde with appropriate characteristics including low alcohol (12.5%).

Passing by other tasting rooms with more usual offerings we came upon that of Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard which is very much worth a visit. They specialize in Pinot Noir (OK, heard of that one) but also concentrate on Iberian Peninsula varieties under the Quinta Cruz label. These include

Tinta Roriz
Tinto Cao
Touriga Franca
Touriga Nacional

We tasted some of these and can report that they were fine and true representatives of their varieties. Their Pinot Noirs are long-lived ('still alive and well in [their] third decade and their philosophy is 'to make wines with moderate alcohol and oak so that the true characteristics of the grape varieties are expressed in the wine. No over-ripe raisin bombs here!' All very laudable and well executed.

Do visit next time you are in Santa Cruz - they have even planted a couple of vines in the car park to get you in the mood.

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