You’ve just got to love a winery with the name Gatos Locos—meaning Crazy Cats. Even the label—depicting two blue felines out for a good time – makes you want to buy the wine.
Made under the umbrella of Vine Hill Winery, which also produces wine under the Cumbre label, Gatos Locos wines are very reasonably priced. I bought the Gatos Locos Chardonnay 2007 Mokelumne River at New Leaf for about $15, an excellent price for this crisp and delicious nectar.
I’m having lunch with a friend at Aldo’s Harbor Restaurant, and our server cracks open the Gatos Locos (corkage is $10). As the sunshine reflects on the ocean and lights up the interior of the restaurant, we sip our wine – also luminous in the sunlight. It’s glorious to sit outside on Aldo’s spacious deck right next to the ocean, but this particular day is too chilly, so we choose a warm spot inside.
We love the Chardonnay—awash with green apples and citrus. It’s fresh, bright—and just perfect to serve with oysters on the half shell, crab cakes and calamari. Aldo’s is famous for its calamari and my friend gets a plate of it and a huge order of fries. I’m perfectly content with my well-prepared red snapper with rice and veggies – although I can’t stop stealing my friend’s fries. “Nobody makes calamari like Aldo’s,” declares my friend. “It’s the best in town.” They also make some darned good fugasa bread at their Aldo’s Bakery in Soquel, which they serve at the restaurant, of course.
Aldo’s has a lot to brag about these days. The restaurant was recently featured on the food network. At the private party they held to celebrate, co-owner John Mootz told me a group of nine had just come in from Denver— making a beeline for the restaurant after seeing it on TV.
Made from fruit grown in the eastern part of Lodi, it’s certain that the grapes for the Chardonnay got a good dose of sun before going to crush. A hint of vanilla and butter, integrated into the wine during fermentation, add more depth, too, ensuring a long, lingering finish.
And the winemaker sums it up with a quote on the label: “Gatos Locos (Crazy Cats) is inspired by the people of Santa Cruz and the fresh perspective our citizens bring to the world around us.”
Gatos Locos at Vine Hill Winery, 2300 Jarvis Road, Santa Cruz, 427-0436. vinehillwinery.com. [email protected] The winery is open every third weekend of the month from noon to 5 p.m. and for events throughout the year. Aldo’s Harbor Restaurant, 616 Atlantic Ave., Santa Cruz, 426-3736. aldos-cruz.com.