Dining Reviews

MJA Delivers Full ‘Monte’

wine glassWhen a good friend who lives in Greece came to stay at my house for a few days—it wasn’t difficult to drum up some fun outings to show her around. One thing that’s always high on my list for visitors is wine tasting, so we headed to the MJA Vineyards tasting room on Santa Cruz’s Westside.

Ebullient owner Marin Artukovich was behind the counter pouring varietals from his DaVine Cellars and Serene Cellars, both of which fall under the umbrella of MJA Vineyards.

After a glorious tasting of several wines, we decided on a Montepulciano 2011, Suisun Valley (around $24) to share over dinner at West End Tap & Kitchen just around the corner. There is no corkage fee if you buy wine from any of the wineries within the Swift Street complex—Sones Cellars, Santa Cruz Mountain Winery, Vino Tabi Winery—so it makes sense to go wine tasting first and pick out something that appeals.

Widely grown in central Italy, the Montepulciano red wine grape is often blended with Sangiovese, but the Monte’s deep purple juice just on its own pairs nicely with meat, pasta and eggplant dishes.

INFO: 328 Ingalls St., Santa Cruz, 421-9380. Tasting room is open Sunday to Thursday from noon to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday noon to 8 p.m.

Who doesn’t love sailing out on the sparkling blue? Combine the idyllic O’Neill catamaran with sipping the wondrous wines made by Katie Fox of Vino Tabi Winery, and you triple your pleasure. You can also enjoy some delicious appetizers out on the Monterey Bay as you check out the Wednesday night regatta and maybe a few whales as well. Sounds like a perfect evening! The O’Neill summer Local Wine Tasting Adventure Sails with Vino Tabi take place from 6-7:30 p.m. on July 16, Aug. 13, Sept. 17 and Oct. 1, so mark your calendars and have your windbreaker ready. $40. More info, call 818-3645.

I had been keeping an eye on the total remodel taking place near Seacliff State Beach, and I’m happy to announce that the brand new Marianne’s Ice Cream store is now open! The ribbon cutting took place on Wednesday, June 25. Free ice cream was given out that day and I tried some delicious zingy ginger—a hard choice considering around 80 flavors are offered. Owners are Charlie Wilcox and Kelly Dillon. 218 State Park Drive, Aptos.

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