Vine & Dine

Hunter Hill

wine glassHunter’s Blend 2012

A private wine-tasting trip to Hunter Hill Vineyard & Winery with about 20 people turned out to be a great deal of fun.  Christine Slatter, owner of Hunter Hill with her winemaker husband Vann Slatter, provided copious amounts of cheese, crackers, fruit and other munchies for guests to enjoy, and everybody had a good time tasting flights of Hunter Hill’s wonderful wines.

Many local wineries hold private events after regular wine-tasting hours, and it’s a good way of gathering a few friends for an enjoyable time. Hunter Hill’s property is a continuing work in progress. The Slatters are always improving their beautiful grounds—and it has now become a stunning place to visit, complete with outdoor barbecue, lawns, a pond and, of course, never-ending vines.

One wine that caught my attention during the tasting is the 2012 Hunter’s Blend—a delicious blend of traditional California varietals Merlot, Zinfandel and Barbera made with Lodi grapes. “This big, fruit red will go well with your favorite pasta recipe and, of course, a big juicy steak,” say the Slatters. “Or enjoy just sipping this blend or pairing with food.” Hunter’s Blend sells for $20 a bottle, but the good news is that right now it’s on sale for only $150 a case.

Hunter Hill’s wines can be found all over Santa Cruz County and beyond in various stores and restaurants, or you can just visit them and try the Hunter’s Blend for yourselves—and all their other wines as well. They produce Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvedre, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Syrah, Barbera, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Vintage Port.

Hunter Hill Vineyard & Winery, 7099 Glen Haven Road, Soquel, 465-9294. Tastiong Room open Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

KitKat—the Famous Wafer Bar While munching on a KitKat the other day, it made me think of this chocolate-covered wafer bar’s origin. Now produced worldwide by Nestlé, KitKats were first made in my home county of Yorkshire, England by a company called Rowntree’s. I remember going on a school trip to Rowntree’s factory and being invited to eat as much chocolate as we wanted at the end of the tour—a dream come true for any schoolchild.

Henry Isaac Rowntree founded the chocolate company in the beautiful medieval city of York in 1862. York, originally founded by the Vikings and known then as Jorvik, is well worth a visit.

Rio Grill’s New Winemaker Thursdays The very popular Rio Grill in Carmel launched Winemaker Thursdays at the beginning of January. From 5-7 p.m. meet a featured winemaker who will be offering tastes of a selected wine complimentary. Visit or call 831-625-54-36 for more info.

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