Soquel Vineyards is one of the primo wineries belonging to the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation. Owners Peter and Paul Bargetto, along with their partner Jon Morgan, deserve many congratulations for recent awards. The Partners’ Reserve 2008 Pinot (Santa Cruz Mountains Lester Family Vineyard) won a gold medal at the prestigious San Francisco Chronicle wine competition, as did their 2007 and 2006 Pinots. Check the website for Soquel Vineyards’ full range of wines and awards. They have won a multitude of gold and silver medals at various competitions.
Soquel Vineyards’ winemakers, from start to finish, use the best of everything. and that doesn’t mean just the grapes. The barrels play a huge role, too. Made from 100 percent French oak, expert coopers age them for three years, inducing layers of flavor such as vanilla, butterscotch, chocolate and toffee, which, of course, greatly influences the taste and aroma of the wine. And it’s always such a pleasure to visit Soquel Vineyards’ tasting room. It’s set in the most beautiful spot, and you will always get a warm welcome.
I attended a reception recently at Lester Family Vineyards in Aptos, where the award-winning Pinot Noir grapes are grown for Soquel Vineyards, and I almost swooned over my glass of 2008 Pinot. (Pinot can do that to you.) It’s richly textured, full-bodied and absolutely bursting with luscious dark fruit. Notes of spice and leather are also detectable in this elegant, earthy nectar. It’s the sort of wine that gives you a satisfying glow, just from the sheer pleasure of drinking it.
Dan and Pat Lester are justly proud of their vineyards and they love to showcase the wines produced from their carefully tended grapes. At the reception, their son-in-law Steve Johnson, who is married to their daughter Lori, asked me to try Soquel Vineyards’ Chardonnay as well-produced from the family’s vineyards. It’s so incredibly delicious that more of this varietal will be planted soon on the Lester property. But more on the Chardonnay another time …
Soquel Vineyards, 8063 Glen Haven Road, Soquel, 462-9045, soquelvineyards.com. The tasting room is open Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. This Pinot Noir sells for $40 and it’s available from the winery, Vinocruz and many local stores.
Windy Oaks Winery will feature their excellent wines at a special dinner at Au Midi—the splendid French restaurant in Aptos—on Wednesday, June 23. Reservations must be made in advance and the cost is $120 per person. Check out the menu online. Au Midi, 7960 Soquel Drive, Aptos, 685-2600. aumidi.com.