Here’s what you need to do…
Jump in your buggy, and drive on down (or up… or over…) to Santa Cruz and do you some wine tasting.
The Santa Cruz Mountains are home to some of the finest wineries in the world.
The only problem is that driving your buggy from one winery to the next can be a real schlep.
Over the last couple of years, a small group of wineries have been opening up tasting rooms on the West Side of Santa Cruz to make your wine tasting just a little bit easier.
The other day, Kara and I rolled over to the corner of Swift and Ingalls to check out a few of them.
Bonny Doon Vineyard:
Randall Grahm started Bonny Doon Vineyard in 1983, and has been making legit Rhone wines from the get go. Growing up about a 10 mile drive from Bonny Doon, I’ve known of this winery my entire life. This, however, was my first experience tasting their wines…
I feel like a dumb ass for waiting so long.
Bonny Doon Vineyard 2010 Banana Slug Roussanne
This white Rhone was grown from the Beeswax Vineyard in Arroyo Seco. It brings butt loads of minerality and clean green apple fruit. There’s a good weight to this one. And, of course, it’s got a great acidity to compliment a light dish. 89
Bonny Doon Vineyard 2011 Vin Gris De Cigare
Here’s the lineup for this rose… 73% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, 8% Grenache Blanc, 16% Roussanne, and 4% Cinsault. Peach on the nose. Lime and minerals on the palate. 100% goodness. 89+
Ca' Del Solo 2006 Nebbiolo
Nebbiolo is THEE noble grape of Italy. Bonny Doon does this grape justice. Good strawberry fruit and Earth notes on the nose. There is some red plum on the palate, but this wine is dominated by its Earthy, grippy, tannins and powdery finish. 90+
Bonny Doon Vineyard 2007 Alamo Creek Syrah
Fantastic. This wine is fantastic. This San Luis Obispo Syrah is inky, and gamey, and smokey, and dope. Give it a 91.
Bonny Doon Vineyard 2007 Le Cigare Volant normale
Le Cigare Volant is Bonny Doon’s Chateauneuf-du-Pape style blend of 60% Grenache, 32% Syrah, 4% Mourvedre, and 4% Cinsault. This is their flagship wine. I can see why. Good raspberry nose. Raspberry, cranberry, leather, and pepper on the palate. This wine is mad complex. This wine is mad balanced. I’d plant my flag in this wine too. 90+
The neat thing about Le Cigare Volant is that you can also try a couple of variations of the same wine based on the vessel in which they were aged…
Also available in en demi-muid and en foudre...
Bonny Doon Vineyard 2007 Le Cigare Volant en foudre:
The normale blends some wine aged in giant casks and others that were aged in normal sized wine barrels. The en foudre is just the stuff that was in the giant cask. Since less of the wine is in contact with the wood, the en foudre is a bit juicier than the normale. Blackberry nose. Raspberry, cranberry, and leather are still the prodominent flavors on the palate. Everything just seems to be a bit more rich and ripe. Good stuff. 91+
Bonny Doon Vineyard 2007 Le Cigare Volant en demi-muid:
With the smaller barrels, a lot more wine is in contact with the oak. On the nose, this added some pepper notes to the blackberry fruit. The pepper also comes through on the palate… and it lingers for a while. 91
Yeah… Bonny Doon pretty much brings it.
Look at this dope tasting room!
And look at these dope wines! It's all good!
Next, we headed over to MJA Vineyards:
The second we walked through the doors of the MJA Tasting Room, we were greeted by Marin Artukovich. Marin worked in the Kona coffee business in Hawaii for 16 years before starting a winery on Howell Mountain in the Napa Valley. He’s had his tasting room in Santa Cruz since 2010, where he serves wine under the labels Serene Cellars and DaVine Cellars… along with Kona coffee and Hawaiian music.
All of his cabs were terrific.
Serene Cellars 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon... Or as Marin calls it, "Nosey".
Along the way, Marin made sure to feed us…
Chocolate Covered Kona Peaberry Coffee Beans
Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nut
And he gave me a quick tour of his winery in the back…
They play movies in here too!
Once the wine tasting was done, we needed some lunch…
Kelly’s French Bakery is tucked in among the tasting rooms. I was stoked to see that they had more than just bread…
This is possibly the best hamburger I have ever tasted. The bun makes all the difference.
Before we headed home, we had to take one more stop when I saw this sign…
The India Pale Ale clocks in at 78 IBU. This beer is super legit... And the view from the patio ain't bad either.
As our day came to a close, we hopped in the ride and returned to the other side of the hill…
But I can’t wait to take my buggy back to the Doon.