Armitage merlot
Food & Drink

Armitage Wines’ Limited-Edition Crimson Wonder

Aromatic, deep-flavored 2017 Merlot is a ‘winemaker’s wine’

Armitage adds a 2017 Merlot to a lineup built on Pinot Noir. PHOTO: BRANDON ARMITAGE

Looking for something fabulous for your Christmas table? The 2017 Merlot made by Brandon Armitage is a winner.

Entering the portals of Armitage Wines’ Aptos tasting room recently, I was thrilled to find that Armitage is now making Merlot and Chardonnay along with the wine he’s most known for, Pinot Noir. “I branched out,” Armitage laughed as he served wine at a recent event for wine club members. Tasting room manager Jeanne Earley busily prepared delicious-looking appetizers to serve to the packed house.

Armitage’s expertly made wines are in high demand—and they sell out quickly. The 2017 Merlot ($60) is a crimson wonder, made with grapes harvested from Fowl Play Vineyard in Scotts Valley. The property falls under the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA and is just down the road from the old Alfred Hitchcock estate where Armitage farms Pinot Noir grapes.

Fewer than 100 cases were produced of this exceptional Merlot, which overflows with aromas of plum and chocolate and deep flavors of vanilla, coffee and red fruits.

Armitage says the 2017 is very European in style—“French, even”—because of the low-alcohol content of only 12 percent. “He calls it a ‘winemaker’s wine,’” says Earley. “He strives to keep the alcohol level down, which is hard to do as the world gets hotter.”

Armitage pours his heart and soul into winemaking—and one can feel the love in every bottle. “The only thing that inherently exists within all things is Love,” his label declares.

Armitage Tasting Room, 105C Post Office Drive, Aptos. 708-2874, Open weekly Wednesday-Sunday.

Companion Bakeshop

I’m absolutely nuts about Companion Bakeshop’s buckwheat blueberry scone ($3). Devilishly dark and delicious, you’d never know this crunchy-round-the-edges treat is gluten-free. Everything they make is top notch, including their freshly baked bread.

At the end of November, Companion opened a new outpost in Aptos Center at 7486 Soquel Drive—and they’re serving Cat & Cloud coffee, too. My cup runneth over.

Visit for locations, including farmers markets, or call 252-2253.

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