Oh, how lucky we are that the beautiful Pinot Noir grape fares so well in our Santa Cruz Mountains. Thanks to the cooling fog that rolls in and protects the fragile skins of this varietal, the Pinot Noir grape thrives. And at harvest time, expert winemakers like Mikael Wargin roll in and pluck these ripe beauties off the vines and turn them into superb crimson nectar. Yes, how lucky we are.
Warginâ€™s 2014 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir ($34) is one of those grab-your-attention Pinots with its lovely light body and full-on flavors. I always have a glass of wine when Iâ€™m making dinnerâ€”and as the steaks were sizzling on the grill, I sipped on this gorgeous Pinot. What a pleasure! Itâ€™s packed with delicious red fruitsâ€”strawberry, cherryâ€” and spicy qualities. I had another glass or two with dinner.
â€œMade entirely from 777 Dijon Pinot Noir grapes, this clonal-specific wine is terroir driven with subtle oak impact for a winning combination,â€ says Wargin on his label. Itâ€™s a winning wine, indeed.
Wargin and his wife Denise operate two tasting roomsâ€”allowing plenty of opportunity to try their wines.
Wargin Wines, 5015 Soquel Drive, Soquel, 531-8108. Open noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday; 18 Hangar Way, Watsonville, open noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. warginwines.com.
Local wines can be found all over, but Iâ€™m always pleased to find a new reliable supply. The Summit Store carries an excellent selection, and as I was browsing the shelves recently, wine buyer Curtis Cooke offered some assistance. Cooke is really into wine and is extremely helpful. He even carried my purchases to the car for me. Iâ€™ll be back! The Summit Store, 24197 Summit Road, Los Gatos, 408-353-2186.
Ralph DiTullio, owner and chef at Nonnoâ€™s Italian CafÃ©, has always prided himself on carrying an abundance of local winesâ€”so hereâ€™s another place to find some well-made local elixirs. And the food there is terrific! Nonnoâ€™s Italian CafÃ© & Wine Bar, 21433 Broadway, Redwood Estates, 408-353-5633. nonnositalian.com.