Founded in the 1880s by the Hall family, Hallcrest Vineyards has been a local fixture for a long time. John Schumacher bought the property in 1987, and now has more than three decades of winemaking under his belt. His 2015 Chardonnay ($36) reflects the experience of a seasoned grape-grower—the wine first reveals a bouquet of Bartlett pears, honey, applesauce, and nectar, followed by a palate dominated by white pepper, minerals and figs. Schumacher says it’s a very versatile wine when it comes to food pairing.
On a visit to Hallcrest last September with my Wild Wine Women group, we all took our own lunch and enjoyed a tasting of Hallcrest wines. Schumacher showed us warm hospitality—giving a talk on his winemaking methods around huge containers of fermenting grapes. Not wasting a minute, he was punching them down at the same time.
Hallcrest is well worth a visit. They have a cozy tasting room nestled in the redwoods, and you are welcome to bring a picnic and take in the lovely surroundings. As well as their many varietals of wine, Hallcrest also produces Santa Cruz Scrumpy hard cider, made from 13 different varieties of organically grown apples. The cider has no added sulfites, sorbates or preservatives, and is also vegan and naturally gluten free. Besides apple, other cider flavors include pomegranate, cherry, prickly pear, and hopped and spiced.
Hallcrest Vineyards/Organic Wine Works, 379 Felton Empire Road, Felton, 335-4441. hallcrestvineyards.com. Open daily noon to 5 p.m. Tasting fee is $10 which is waived if you spend $50 or more.
The Philosopher’s Stoneground
All hail the Philosopher’s Stoneground products, which include sprouted almond butter straight from heaven. This is some of the best almond butter I have tasted, and it’s made in Santa Cruz. Try the Ostara Stone Ground Coconut Butter and the Ostara Stone Ground Cocotella (chocolate coconut butter)—you won’t believe these flavors. Tim Richards is the “Chief Philosopher and Nut Alchemist,” so we have him to thank for these delicious creations. Visit thephilosophersstoneground.com.