Pelican Ranch Winery makes a good Chardonnay. After all, the owner and winemaker, Phil Crews, is a professor of chemistry at UC Santa Cruz, so he certainly knows a thing or two about blending and fermenting—be it wine or chemicals.
This particular Chardonnay, a 2008 Los Carneros Napa Valley, Mitsuko’s Vineyard—is really luscious. Phil professes he made it to be “bold and delicious”—and he’s succeeded. Some Chardonnays are crisp and light, but this one is more complex with heavy fruit, toasty oak, vanilla and butterscotch from the full malolactic secondary fermentation. Notes of ripe pear and apple are in there also, with a hint of vanilla. All in all, it’s a lovely Chardonnay, which would pair well with almost anything. Certainly the “toasty oak” in the wine is not overwhelming, which can really detract from the refreshing flavors of a good Chardonnay.
Pelican Ranch wines are pretty easy to find. I bought this particular bottle at Deluxe Foods of Aptos for $23, but you can find them at most good stores and at many of our local wine bars.
Phil and his wife Peggy are the most gracious of hosts. If you visit them at their tasting room, Phil will happily bend your ear on absolutely anything and everything to do with wine. He’s a walking encyclopedia about the trials and tribulations of winemaking. I once took a group of friends to Pelican Ranch for an evening of wine tasting, which also included some splendid food made by Peggy. Phil, being his usual ebullient self, told us more than we ever need to know about the nuances of winemaking, but it was enormously entertaining, enlightening and fun.
Phil also makes Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Syrah and Trois Amis Rouge (the reds); and, as well as Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Viognier and Trois Amis Blanc (the whites). Pelican Ranch is a small winery, but produces some outstanding wines. It’s what I would call quality over quantity.
Pelican Ranch Winery, 402 Ingalls St., Santa Cruz, 426-6911. pelicanranch.com. Open for wine tasting and sales Friday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
Wine Events: Holiday Wine & Tree Trail
As the holidays rapidly approach, it’s time to start thinking about a festive tree. Some of our local wineries have got together and have come up with the splendid idea of a holiday wine and tree trail. Select a holiday tree at one of the local tree farms, including Radonich Ranch, Summit Tree Farm, Frosty’s Tree Farm and Patchen Christmas Tree Farm, then head to the participating wineries for great local wine and unique gift ideas. Also, you’ll receive one free ornament per winery to hang on your tree with a purchase of wine. Summit Store is right there on the trail if you get a bit hungry along the way. Participating wineries are: Burrell School, Hunter Hill, Loma Prieta, Poetic Cellars, Regale and Vine Hill. This event runs until Dec. 24. Info: (408) 395-0965.