Vine & Dine

Big Basin Vineyards

wine glassI was just in the process of purchasing a bottle of Big Basin’s 2012 Homestead in Vinocruz when Matt Ryan walked into the store. Ryan manages the tasting room, sales and the mailing list at Big Basin, and, considering the popularity of their wines, he’s a very busy man.

“Oh, that’s a good one,” he says of the Homestead, offering to email me some tasting notes on this wine. After gathering my own “tasting notes” by way of my tongue, I agree with Ryan that it’s a good one.

A blend of 34 percent Grenache, 23 percent Syrah, 18 percent Mourvedre, 21 percent Carignane, and 4 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, the five varietals come beautifully together in one hugely flavorful and well-made wine by expert winemaker Bradley Brown. Appealingly crimson and full of spice and dark fruit, this intriguing blend would be impressive on any holiday table.

Ryan says that almost all of the Grenache is from Big Basin’s estate vineyard in Boulder Creek, and the other varietals listed come from their estate and other well-known vineyards. Most notably, the Carignane is from 80-year-old vines in the Wirz Vineyard–and dry farmed. Grapes are hand-picked and hand-sorted, and spend 11 months in neutral French oak.

“We made 620 cases,” says Ryan, “our biggest production to date–and we can’t get any bigger.” The Homestead will not be hard to find. As well as being available at Vinocruz ($36), it’s sold in 12 states, and in Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and Australia.

Visit their tasting room at 14598 Big Basin Way, Saratoga, 408-564-7346.

Surf City Vintners’ Annual Art & Wine Fair

On the day after Thanksgiving (aka Black Friday) you can escape the buying frenzy and shop to your heart’s content in the enclave that is Surf City Vintners (SCV). You can enjoy wine tasting while you browse for gifts of art made by local artists at the dozen wineries that make up the SCV. Each winery will feature different artists. Noon to 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 28, Swift Street Courtyard, Santa Cruz. Visit

Assembling at Assembly

Assembly is on the cutting edge of happenings in Santa Cruz. An event I attended there in mid-November was to spotlight a few new local businesses and give them the opportunity to talk about their business and showcase their wares by handing out samples of food and drinks to attendees of this sold-out event. I particularly enjoyed Cardamom Tuesday’s cordial syrup, and Mutari Chocolate’s hot chocolate as well as delicious treats from Mortal Dumpling and Ashby Confections. Some business owners took the mic and talked about their future plans–including “fruit wrangler” Tabitha Stroup of Friend in Cheeses Jams, Andrea Mollenauer of Lifestyle Culinary Arts, Romney Dunbar of 100 Mile Meals and Annie Pautsch of Brew Cruz. Check them all out on their websites.

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