Hunter Hill Vineyard & Winery

Dining_wineSyrah Rosé 2008

On a recent wine-tasting visit to Hunter Hill, I sample a very unusual Rosé. Darker than most Rosés, this one has a moody hue, almost verging on red. “You have to try this,” says Christine Slatter, owner of Hunter Hill with her winemaker husband, Vann Slatter. “It’s our first Syrah Rosé, says Christine. “And we’re very happy with it.”

I ask Christine why this wine has such a deep ruby color. “Well, in the process [of winemaking] the color is determined by how long you leave it on the skins, and since the crush was late in the evening, we just got tired and left it,” she chuckles. They then realize that they had made a darker-than-usual Rosé, but it turned out really well. “The darker color gives more flavor and intensity to it,” she says. “It’s been a great summer wine.” Although supplies of the Syrah Rosé are running low – Christine tells me that they have only three cases left – Michael’s on Main restaurant in Soquel still has a good supply and you can buy it there by the glass or by the bottle.

A friend was celebrating a birthday at Oak Tree Ristorante in Felton, so I take along a bottle of the Rosé ($15) to share. More than a dozen women friends are seated round a table in a semi-private section of the restaurant, so at least everybody can have a little taste of the Rosé—and it’s good to get a lot of feedback. Most were fascinated by the Rosé’s deep ruby color—expecting a Rosé to be pale pink – but everybody loved the bold and spicy flavors. All the grapes for this Syrah are estate grown, and the wine is entirely produced and bottled by Hunter Hill. The Rosé is a delicious dry and fruity wine – complete with the gorgeous peppery hints of the Syrah grape.

We all decide the easiest route to go with dinner is to get the Chef’s Menu – a delicious cornucopia of several different dishes – ending with some superb lamb chops. And more wine is ordered, of course, from the restaurant’s good selection.

Wine Note: Hunter Hill will host the last of the summer Dinners in the Vineyard series on Sept. 19 at the winery – with food by Michael’s on Main ($85 per person and $75 for wine club members). The winery is also putting on a lovely Harvest Dinner – with food by Chef Sid, the Slatters’ son – on Sunday, Oct. 10 at 4 p.m. Tickets are $85 per person.

Hunter Hill Vineyard & Winery, 7099 Glen Haven Road, Soquel, 465-9294. hunterhillwines.com.
Oak Tree Ristorante, 5447 Highway 9, Felton, 335-5551. oaktreeristorante.com.

Benefit Farm Dinner on Sunday, Sept. 19. Farmer Ken Kimes, who owns New Natives, an organic farm in Corralitos, lost his right hand recently in a farming accident. A fundraiser to help with Ken’s medical expenses will be held by the Monterey Bay Certified Farmers Markets for $100 per person. Info: Catherine Barr at 728-5060.

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