Made by expert winemaker Barry Jackson, the Bartolo Merlot 2010’s blend of 79 percent Merlot and 21 percent Petit Verdot is produced from fruit grown in Gilroy’s Mann Vineyard, where sun-seeking vines get a good daily dose of ripening rays. The wine is then aged for 20 months in two-year-old American oak, which allows its wonderful aromas and flavors to mature.

“It has bright plummy aromatics, with dense richly textured tannins framed by intense blackberry and cassis notes,” says Jackson, who produced 360 cases of this very drinkable wine. It’s also bursting with flavors of plum and chocolate, making this quality Merlot ($32) a mouthful of exceptional nectar.

Other wines made under the Bartolo label include Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Seta Rosso, Petit Verdot, Fiano, and Cioppino Rosso. Jackson always has a good laugh about the Cioppino Rosso because it’s a blend of different wines—he says he “throws all the leftovers in a pot”—just like the famous cioppino fish stew. His 2009 Cioppino Rosso ($20) is a blend of Merlot, Syrah and a bit of Chardonnay—all of which makes for a very tasty “fish stew.”

Along with his Bartolo label, Jackson also produces Equinox fine sparkling wines made in the méthode champenoise style, for which he has garnered accolades far and wide.

Jackson and his wife Jennifer Jackson recently moved their tasting room from Swift Street to a more central location on Ingalls Street in the Surf City Vintners complex, where they now get much more foot traffic and exposure, which they certainly deserve. People are much more familiar with Jackson’s marvelous Equinox wines, but next time you’re in the tasting room, try the Bartolo wines as well.

Equinox/Bartolo, 334 Ingalls St., Unit C, Santa Cruz, 471-8608.

Bridal Expo

Whether you’re bride-to-be, a mother of the bride, or you’re just interested in the latest wedding trends, the annual Bridal Expo is a fun event to experience. Joyce Anderson is an ace at putting on the fashion show—always one of the highlights of the Expo—and has been one of the main organizers of the event for years. Booths galore are set up for you to taste vendors’ goodies and check out local wines, too. The Expo is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Cocoanut Grove on Sunday, Jan. 31. For more info visit

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