Vine & Dine

Martin Ranch Winery

wine glassSauvignon Blanc 2011

One of my favorite wines is Sauvignon Blanc, and this one made by Martin Ranch is particularly lovely. Bright, crisp and refreshing, it’s perfect to pair with fish and shellfish—and good for picnics as it has an easy screw-cap bottle. There’s nothing worse than setting down your blanket, pulling out your sandwiches—and then realizing you don’t have a corkscrew.

This Sauvignon Blanc ($27) is aged in new French acacia barrels, which the winemakers say enhances it with notes of grapefruit and hues of melon with a finish of soft pear. Grapes are harvested from Griva Vineyard in the Arroyo Seco region—a site that encompasses land that was once riverbed and now a seasonal creek runs through. The alluvial soils of rock, gravel and sand imbue flinty flavors into this delightful wine—a silver winner in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition of 2013.

Martin Ranch is a beautiful winery to visit—and you’re welcome to take a picnic, too. It’s open every third weekend from noon to 5 p.m. If you’re a wine club member you can participate in their fun Bottle Your Own event from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. the weekend of May 31 and June 1. You can even slap on your own designed labels if you get them made ahead of time. Martin Ranch now carries its own logo T-shirts and hats—all in 100 percent cotton.

Martin Ranch Winery, 6675 Redwood Retreat Road, Gilroy, 408-842-9197.

Mutari Hot Chocolate
Mutari Hot Chocolate has opened up in Andrea Mollenauer’s commercial Front Street kitchen in downtown Santa Cruz. Owner Adam Armstrong sources his ethnically traded cacao beans from Panama, where he spent two years working with rural cacao farmers and artisan chocolate makers. “We are hot chocolate perfectionists,” he says of his stone-ground hand-crafted dark chocolate, which does not list sugar as the first ingredient. For more info visit [email protected]“>[email protected] or call 530-321-6637. For info on Mollenaur’s cooking classes, rentable kitchen space and events visit or find her at 504 Front St., Santa Cruz.

Chocolate the Restaurant
Talking of chocolate, the lovely little eatery called Chocolate is now offering gluten-free bread and sandwiches. Quiche and other goodies are offered gluten-free, too. Their supplier is Red House Bakery in Santa Cruz. I loved a Fuego hot chocolate I had there recently – served with hot and spicy dark cocoa, organic cinnamon and chipotle chili. Chocolate is one of the downtown restaurants participating in Dinner & A Movie specials in partnership with Nickelodeon Theaters. For more info visit Chocolate 1255 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 427-9900.

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