A hidden Eden for those who like to roam winding back roads and splendid open meadows—that’s Corralitos. This is the old West, where not very long ago stagecoaches rumbled through the coast range foothills. Now home to sprawling ranches, this south county landscape also grows serious grapes, and attracts winemakers able to handle them.
Next Sunday, Sept. 1, come and enjoy a self-guided tour through six Corralitos wineries, some of them rarely open to the public. The leisurely afternoon, playfully dubbed The Barrels of Corralitos, includes a logo glass, a map and a ticket to savor flights and barrel samples at these featured wineries located a mere 20 minutes south of Santa Cruz: Lester, Alfaro, Nicholson, Storrs, Windy Oaks, and the recently added El Vaquero. All of these produce intriguing examples of Santa Cruz Mountain appellation terroir, inflected by the unique growing conditions of Corralitos. Alfaro’s plantings include a mineral-driven Gruner Veltliner, Storrs is one of the state’s top producers of Chardonnay, and Windy Oaks’ constellation of Pinot Noirs is legendary. The 11 a.m.-4 p.m. tasting tour includes live music, winemaker tours and finger foods for purchase. Not to miss! Tickets $75.
The man doesn’t sleep! Sean Venus continues his quest to bring high-quality, artisanal spirits to greater California consumers. To that end, Venus Spirits has just launched a line of ready-to-drink cocktails smartly packaged in 12-oz. cans. What’s in these unbreakable containers fetchingly decorated with pastel waves? Bestsellers from the Santa Cruz tasting room, that’s what. The new line (thus far) includes Venus Spirits’ Gin and Tonic (pale blue motif), a Gin Gimlet with Cucumber and Basil (the green one, of course), and a Vodka Mule (in a pink design). All three cocktails are 8% A.B.V. and will sell for around $15-17 per four-pack.
“We have hit another special milestone for our brand,” says entrepreneur Venus. “With these canned cocktails we can bring the Venus cocktail experience to our customers throughout California and eventually beyond.” Can you say “product placement” in the next Lionsgate production? Cocktails in cans are easy and accessible, perfect for beach barbecues or picnics or camping or to stash in your golf bag. Endless applications. Look for Venus Spirits canned cocktails in the Santa Cruz tasting room now. Venus has also begun an eagerly awaited expansion to include an 11,500-square-foot building with a new restaurant, larger distillery, warehouse, and tasting room. The restaurant is set to open in Spring 2020. Stay thirsty, my friends!
Venus Spirits Distillery & Tasting Room, 427 A Swift St., Santa Cruz. venusspirits.com.
Westcliff Tasting Notes
Always fun to see what he’s up to, Andre Beauregard of the legendary Beauregard winemaking family. Well, for one thing, there’s his fresh, crisp 2018 Westcliff Wines Pinot Gris priced at a very user-friendly $15 (available at Shoppers Corner, where Beauregard moonlights as resident wine buyer.) We enjoyed this light, summery wine (13.1% A.B.V.) with dinner of grilled steelhead and quinoa risotto the other evening. Perfect for picnics, BBQs and al fresco conversation, the Westcliff Pinot Gris is loaded with tart apples, citrus and a tinge of honeydew melon. For sipping, not meditating. Do try it.