Vine & Dine

Jason-Stephens Winery

wine glassDeluxe Foods of Aptos has a splendid selection of local wines.

I sometimes spend ages there just browsing through the latest and greatest from various wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation. It was there that I found a Jason-Stephens Estate Merlot—2008 Santa Clara Valley. With an abundance of body and structure, this is a Merlot well worth buying—and for only $15.99. Jason Goelz is the winemaker and Stephen Dorcich is the winegrower at Jason-Stephens, and both share “a commitment to crafting full-bodied and flavorful wines from celebrated Uvas Canyon soil.” I’d say they’ve hit the nail on the head.

I always love a glass of wine when I’m cooking dinner, and I thoroughly enjoyed a first tasting of this velvety wine before I even got to pairing it with some juicy Omaha steaks, which were part of a huge gift-pack from family in Nebraska.

Supermarkets don’t always have the most current releases available, so if you head to the Jason-Stephens tasting room to buy some 2008 or 2009 Merlot, you will probably find their latest 2010 Merlot ($24). But, at a selling price of under $16 at Deluxe for the 2008, you’re getting a bargain.

Merlot went through the wringer after the movie Sideways came out in 2004. It was slammed as “flabby” by Paul Giamatti’s character, Miles, and sales plummeted. Well, we’ve all got over that now, so here’s to drinking a heck of a lot more Merlot.

Jason-Stephens Winery, 11775 Watsonville Road, Gilroy, 408-846-8463. jstephens.com. Tasting room open daily noon to 5 p.m.

Deluxe Foods of Aptos, 783-25 Rio Del Mar Blvd., Aptos, 688-7442. Deluxefoodsofaptos.com.

Fit-Stop Café

Seascape Sports Club has a brand-new café—and it’s not just for members. Operated by owner Glen Isaacs, who has more than 20 years in the business—he ran a café inside Lifestyle Fitness in Watsonville—and Trina Korba, all kinds of goodies are offered at Fit-Stop Café. Readily available are fresh juices, smoothies, muffins, and homemade soups, made fresh daily. His clam chowder is some of the best around. Half a dozen different salads are available, and a variety of sandwiches as well. Try the breakfast sandwich with ham, eggs, onion, cheese, tomato and avocado, served on a squaw bun. It’ll keep you going all day. Fit-Stop Café (inside Seascape Sports Club), 1505 Seascape Blvd., Aptos, 536-4361. Open 5:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Crab Feast at Chaminade

Chaminade Resort & Spa is putting on its third annual crab feast at 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 21. Don’t miss an opportunity to feast on Dungeness crab while overlooking the Monterey Bay. Tickets are $55. For more information visit chaminade.com

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