I can’t say enough about Jerold O’Brien. As longtime owner and winemaker at Silver Mountain Vineyards, O’Brien’s wealth of knowledge and experience—over three decades in the business—runs deep. O’Brien is also a generous soul in the community, donating copious amounts of wine to support local organizations. And when O’Brien says that he is “a leader in organic and sustainable practices,” he is putting it mildly. His was one of the first certified organic vineyards, long before the word organic was ubiquitous.

Having said all that, I’ll now get to his wine, especially his wonderful Pinot Noir. The 2012 Santa Cruz Mountains estate-bottled Pinot is particularly robust and complex ($42). Made from organic grapes grown on two adjacent vineyards—one owned by Silver Mountain and the other by the Nelson family, but both farmed by Silver Mountain—this impressive crimson beauty is bursting with lush strawberries and cherries, with an aromatic layer of characteristic earthiness. It’s perfect to pair with veal, pork or a hearty steak.

Silver Mountain runs two tasting rooms. One is located up the Old San Jose Road, open on Saturdays, and the other is at 402 Ingalls St., Santa Cruz in the Swift Street Courtyard complex, open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

O’Brien is running some good sales on his wines right now, and Feb. 13 Silver Mountain is hosting a celebration called Wine Lover’s Weekend. What a good time to take your sweetheart wine tasting! Check silvermtn.com for more info.

Date Night Santa Cruz

With all of the new movies out now and the Academy Awards coming up on Feb. 28, why not take in a good flick and spend time wining and dining on the local scene? Landmark Theatres (The Nick, Del Mar Theatre and Aptos Cinemas) collaborates with 13 of Santa Cruz’s favorite restaurants to offer a Dinner-and-a-Movie package Monday through Thursday. Tickets for “Date Night Santa Cruz” all cost $50, and include two movie tickets and up to $50 in restaurant credit. The package can be purchased at any of the partner restaurants or at the box offices. Sign up for Landmark’s Film Club Newsletter and you’ll be in the know. Visit the theater box office for tickets and more info.

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