In the early stages of their vino venture, winemaker and owner Jim Boyle, along with his wife Robin, were making so much wine that they had to give much of it away. Finally, Jim decided it was time to get serious, open a tasting room and actually start selling the fruits of their labors. Dancing Creek Winery was born, its name inspired by the Santa Cruz landscape: “We live in a crazy yellow house in a Happy Valley on a dancing creek,” the Boyles explain.

Wine lovers in the area now head to the Boyles’ tasting room to snap up their Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Merlot. Add to that list their new 2009 Zinfandel Port, made with grapes harvested from Zayante Vineyard. It’s $18 for a 12-ounce bottle and is only available in their tasting room. But this ruby beauty with its dark fruit and peppery spice is worth a trip to Dancing Creek.

Growing up in England, I well remember how much my mother loved a drop of port after dinner, and this sweet wine is still very much associated with Brits. The Boyles have captured rich and sensuous flavor and sealed it in a bottle with an elegant red wax seal. Pair it with cheese, especially a tart Roquefort or a nice bit of English Stilton—and we all know how well port goes with chocolate.

Dancing Creek Winery, 4363 Branciforte Drive, Santa Cruz. 408-497-7753. dancingcreekwinery.com. The Boyles’ tasting room is very close to the famous Mystery Spot, and open every third Saturday of the month from noon to 5 p.m., so the next time will be Feb. 20.

Fat Tuesday at Michael’s on Main

Fat Tuesday (aka Shrove Tuesday) on Feb. 9 at Michael’s on Main in Soquel promises to be a tasty time for all. Guest chef Madlyn Norman-Terrance will be cooking up her famous gumbo, Kip Allert will perform—and it’s all paired with local wines by Bargetto Winery. Wine-pairing dinner is from 6:30-8 p.m. and cost is $25 per person. Visit michaelsonmain.net for more info. 

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