Food & Drink

Armitage Wines

Armitage WinesA passionately made Pinot, plus fruitcakes from Big Sur, and local chocolates

Armitage Wines has an inviting tasting room in the Aptos enclave that is also home to the Warmth Company, Pure Life, Starbucks, Cantine Winepub, and more. The new addition of colorful tables and chairs outside means al fresco tastings on warm-weather days—even through fall and winter. One good reason to go check it out is for the 2013 Pommard Pinot Noir.

Made from 100 percent pommard clone grown in Carmel Valley, this exceptional Pinot ($45) is produced by winemaker extraordinaire Brandon Armitage. Armitage, who is just as busy making fine wine for other wineries as he is for his own label, particularly excels at full-thrust Pinots, capturing every ounce of flavor from his harvested grapes.

Armitage, who was born in the Chinese year of the Tiger, says his winemaking style reflects the character of this year: strength, passion and the power to pounce at a split-second’s notice. So when you head to Armitage’s tasting room, look for the Pinot with two tigers on the label. Family and friends will appreciate such a worthy wine at the holiday table.

Armitage Wines, 105c Post Office Drive, Aptos, 706-6601. Check the website for hours.

Fruitcake Made by Monks

I recently tried some delicious Brandy-dipped Fruitcake and Brandy-dipped Date-Nut Cake made by Camaldoli monks in Big Sur—one of their prime sources of income, especially over the holiday season. The monks have been making these cakes for years, and are well known for producing quality products. Most Brits love fruitcake, and I’m one of them. Their granola, too, is very tasty and packed with good stuff. Brother Michael said he hoped we would enjoy the cake and the “Holy Granola.” I certainly felt blessed when I’d eaten it. Info and to order: 866-886-0544 and

Judy’s Candy at Ben Lomond Market

Short on ideas for the holidays? Ben Lomond Market carries festive milk chocolates shaped liked Christmas trees and Santas that are sure to please the locavore—and just perfect for individual place settings or for stocking stuffers. Handmade the old-fashioned way by Judy’s Candy Company, boxed assorted chocolates are also available. Prices range from $3.99 to $19.99. Ben Lomond Market, 9440 Mill St., Ben Lomond.

FRUITS OF LABOR A wonderful selection of wines from Armitage Wines. PHOTO: COURTESY OF ARMITAGE WINES

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