Vine & Dine

Vino Tabi Winery

wine glassOne of Santa Cruz’s most happening areas to go wine tasting is in the westside’s Swift Street Courtyard complex. Ever since a group of about a dozen wineries got together and formed Surf City Vintners (SCV), the place has been a hive of activity, and a wine-tasting mecca. Adding to the mix is the lively Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing beer company—making Swift Street Courtyard a perfect spot for a glass of wine or a pitcher of ale.

Vino Tabi, one of the wineries belonging to the SCV group, is an upbeat place to visit, run by accomplished winemaker Katie Fox, who is always happy to share her knowledge of wine.

On a recent trip to the SCV, I stopped at Vino Tabi for a tasting and picked up a beautiful 2012 Syrah ($28) with enticing, earthy aromas of raisin and coffee. Robust flavors of roasted black plum, baker’s chocolate and tart cherry are followed by a finish of white pepper and chocolate in this elegant, easy-drinking wine. The intense fruit of Syrah pairs well with meats like grilled pork and lamb, all kinds of cheese, and appetizers.

Many of you will see wines from Australia called Shiraz, which is another name for Syrah. I well remember tasting wines in the famous Barossa Valley, just north of Adelaide, and spending quite a bit of time at Penfolds (a major exporter of Aussie wines to the United States) trying their Shiraz.

Coming up on Fridays and Saturdays in January at Vino Tabi are a bunch of music events—a great opportunity to try other Vino Tabi wines, such as their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay (wine tasting fee is $5 or you can get this 2012 Syrah by the glass for $8), and listen to accomplished musicians at the same time.

Fox also specializes in custom-made wines, including personalized labeling for you or your customers. You can also book a private event in Vino Tabi’s tasting room. It’s a fantastic place to hold a party.

Vino Tabi Winery, 334 Ingalls St., Santa Cruz, 426-1809. Vino-tabi-wine.com.

Costa Rica Food Tour

I recently returned from a trip to Panama and Costa Rica. Although Costa Rica is not known for gourmet dining, I love the simplicity of the country’s typical cuisine, especially plantains, black beans and rice—and the special sour cream/custard they make called natilla. At Assembly a couple of weeks ago, I ran into Stephany Buswell, pastry arts instructor at the International Culinary Center of California. As we got to talking about coffee plantations and cacao beans in Costa Rica, Buswell informed me that she is leading a food tour in Costa Rica next year called Cacao Beans and Chocolate—with a max of 14 people. To sign up or for more information, contact travel agent Marie Henley at Travel Experience, 818-7139 or [email protected]  

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