Vine & Dine

Comanche Cellars

wine-1534Michael Simons, owner and winemaker of Comanche Cellars, once had a trusted steed called Comanche, which was part of his paper route and his rodeo circuit, from the tender age of 10. In memory of this beautiful horse, he named his winery Comanche, and Comanche’s shoes grace the label of each handcrafted bottle.

Friends came over for dinner recently and I opened up Comanche Cellars’ 2013 Tempranillo ($28) to pair with fresh local salmon. It was a hit! All six of us loved the multi-layers of piñon incense, white pepper and fresh blackberry jam. “It’s an energetic canter through layers of grilled nutmeg-laced plums, tangy pomegranate and sweet red cherry peppers,” says Simons, whose references to all things equestrian sprinkle many of his sentences. Fruit for the Tempranillo is grown in Tres Pinos in San Benito County, just south of Hollister—a prime grape-growing climate with lots of heat and cooling marine layers.

This new release should be widely available soon, so check the website to learn where to find some. Meanwhile, Simons has several events lined up. He’ll be taking his wines, including his excellent Pinot Noir and his red-blend Maverick (I wonder how he came up with that name!), to various events. On Aug. 29 he’ll be at the End of Summer Wine Stroll on Santana Row in San Jose.

Simons is a very accomplished winemaker, and my hope is that he opens a tasting room soon so that we can all benefit more from the fruits of his labor.

Comanche Cellars, Marina, 320-7062.

Flour Sack Dish Towels

The Warmth Company is always bursting at the seams with beautiful stuff – luxurious bedding and blankets, well-designed clothing, tasteful knickknacks, and a huge space filled with unusual furniture. Right now they’re carrying some well-made flour-sack dish towels at $14. Made from natural flour-sack fabric by Rendezvous Kitchen in Washington State, these 100-percent cotton towels all come with fun sayings: “I’m so happy it’s happy hour”; “The beach is my happy place;” “Our house is a very very very fine house,” and more. The owners—twin sisters Naomi Branagan and Monica Emmert—tell me that in September they are opening a second store. The location will be 1003 41st Ave., Santa Cruz. Warmth Company, 140 Post Office Drive, Aptos Village, 688-3200.

IN THE FAMILY The 2013 Tempranillo from Comanche Cellars is made from fruit grown in Tres Pinos and named after the owners’ granddaughter. PHOTO: COMANCHE CELLARS

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