Fill up your passport without breaking the bank by taking a tour of Santa Cruz’s many wineries
This Saturday, Jan. 21, the Santa Cruz Mountain Winegrowers Association (SCMWA) will hold their winter Passport Day. For just $40, participants gain access to 50 different wineries throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains with tastings available at each stop. Simply present the winery with your special purple passport and receive a taste of their latest offerings. At each winery, passport will be marked with a stamp to indicate completion of another leg of the trip. Though the journey is the fun part, participants who fill their passport will receive a special gift to commemorate their completion.
Passport Day happens four times each year, on the third Saturday of January, April, July and November. The passport never expires, allowing patrons to visit each winery at their leisure until the passport is filled. Passport Day runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., as well as during each individual winery’s tasting hours.
A few of the smaller wineries on the list are only open to the public on passport days, giving patrons the opportunity to taste some lesser-known wines without booking a private event. A handful of area restaurants also offer waived corkage fees or discounted dining options with a valid SCMWA passport on passport days.
Here’s a small sample of the vinicultural offerings in store for this Saturday, Jan. 21:
Vine Hill Chardonnay 2009 ($24)
Vine Hill Winery offers up their 2009 Chardonnay for a taste at their winery location. Good Times staff has sampled this wine before, with decidedly delicious results. Good Times wine writer Josie Cowden writes that the Vine Hill 2009 Chardonnay has “a unique minerality of flavors and balance of tannins and acids. Enticing aromatic notes of pineapple and lychee are present, and a swirl round the mouth reveals delightful pear and almond flavors.”
Vine Hill Winery, 2300 Jarvis Rd., Santa Cruz, 427-0436. vinehillwinery.com.
Quinta Cruz Tempranillo 2009 ($18)
Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard created the Quinta Cruz brand in 2008 to showcase grape varieties that were originally grown in Portugal and Spain, but are now available in California. Tempranillo is the most common red grape throughout the Iberian Peninsula, although it remains under the radar stateside. Quinta Cruz’s iteration is heavy with cranberry, pomegranate and sour cherry flavors, balanced with a touch of earthy smokiness. Tempranillos, like Pinot Noirs, are renowned for pairing well with a variety of foods. Sunset magazine named Quinta Cruz’s 2007 Tempranillo as one of its “top picks” in their August 2010 issue.
Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, 334–A Ingalls St., Santa Cruz, 426-6209, santacruzmountainvineyard.com.
Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigar Blanc 2009 ($24)
Boony Doon Vineyard will uncork this complex white at their tasting room, which is adjacent to its famed Cellar Door Cafe. Le Cigar Blanc is a single vineyard blend of Grenache, Blanc, and Roussanne made from grapes grown exclusively from the Beeswax Vineyard in Arroyo Seco. This light-golden wine has a slight mineral flavor with notes of quince, fennel and Asian pear. It pairs well with cheese, seafood, poultry and savory vegetarian dishes.
Boony Doon Vineyard, 328 Ingalls St., Santa Cruz, 425-6737, bonnydoonvineyard.com.
For a complete list of participating wineries or to purchase a passport, please visit: scmwa.com.