Vine & Dine

Hess Collection Winery

wine glassMy friend Emma from London came to visit for a few days in early March, so I took her wine tasting in the Santa Cruz Mountains—a rare treat for her, as there aren’t too many vineyards in the middle of London. Her visit reminded me how fortunate we are to live in this paradise of ultra-fresh produce, with grapes growing in wild profusion.

After a day in Carmel and lunch at Mundaka, we headed back north to Aptos for one of Seascape Beach Resort’s Wine Wednesday events. A different winery is featured every week and tasting usually consists of four different varietals. A small tapas-style plate of food is served as well—and all for a total of $18. It’s a deal.

Eight of us met up for the tasting, and enjoyed wines from Hess Collection Winery. One wine that caught my attention, and which sells for a mere $15, was the Chardonnay 2013. Grapes are harvested from Shirtail Creek Vineyard in Monterey, where the maritime climate offers an exceptionally long growing season. Fermented and aged in stainless steel without the use of oak, this Chardonnay is crisp and refreshing with bright flavors and aromas of citrus and pear. It’s easy to drink, easy to pair with food, and easy to open, as it comes with a screw cap.

The Hess Collection, 4411 Redwood Road, Napa, 707-255-1144.

Mother’s Day Brunch

Mother’s Day is on May 10, so how about a pop-up brunch extravaganza in the beautiful setting of Bee Fruitful and Stone Meal farms in Scotts Valley. Most ingredients will be sourced from Scotts Valley Farmers Market—Companion Bakeshop will be providing its incredible baked goods, and Barry Jackson of Equinox Wine will be there with his amazing sparkling wines—a perfect toast to your mother. The event includes a tour of Stone Meal Farm and an absolutely delicious multi-course menu. While enjoying splendid food and wine, you will also be contributing to the educational and Market Match programs, supporting the growth of a local food system, and putting farmers market dollars into the pockets of low-income families and individuals. The event starts at 9 a.m. with cocktails and appetizers, tour of the farm at 9:30 a.m., and the first course served at 10 a.m. Tickets are $88. For information visit

Sweet Treats

Birthdays at the Good Times offices are often celebrated with a variety of cupcakes from Buttercup Cakes & Farm House Frosting. They are so delicious that everybody makes a beeline for them as soon as we’ve sung “Happy Birthday.” One of my favorites is the Triple Orange with Earl Grey frosting. Visit to check out the cupcakes and flavors. And we had terrific pizzas and salads delivered recently from Woodstock’s Pizza—all instantly devoured by hungry staff.

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