Vine & Dine

Hunter Hill Vineyards & Winery

Wine-GT1529Calling all Merlot lovers—Hunter Hill has released its 2013 estate Merlot ($25)—and a superb one it is, too.


It’s a wine that has all the delicious qualities of a well-crafted Merlot; nuanced notes of coffee, tobacco and spice, and rich fruit flavors of plum, strawberry and cherry. With a perfect amount of acidity, this merlot pairs well with a variety of foods, including roast chicken, ham, beef, and Italian cuisine—especially pasta, pizza and tomato-based dishes.

I opened up the Merlot to have with a dinner of pork loin and roast potatoes, and imbibed on a glass of it while preparing the meal. This, for me, is the perfect time to enjoy a glass of vino—followed by another glass at dinner, of course! A friend had given me some home-grown kale from her garden, and it was a superb match with the robust Merlot. The wine held its own with all the bold food flavors. But I’m a great believer in drinking whatever feels right at the time, and not always sticking to the “white wine with fish, red wine with meat” rule. I have often enjoyed a glass of red with fish just because I was in a red-wine mood at the time.

Winery owners Vann and Christine Slatter say they are proud of this Merlot, which they say is “carefully crafted from grapes which ripened on the cool coast overlooking the Monterey Bay, creating an elegant wine in the true Merlot style.”
Hunter Hill Vineyard & Winery, 7099 Glen Haven Road, Soquel, 465-9294. Open weekends for tasting.

Dinner at Casa Nostra

A special five-course dinner featuring the wines of Rexford Winery will be paired with the dynamic Italian cuisine of Ristorante Casa Nostra from 6-9 p.m. on Tuesday, July 28. Cost is $65 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Music is by jazz duo Joe & Paul.
Ristorante Casa Nostra, 9217 Highway 9, Ben Lomond. For reservations call 609-6132 or email [email protected].

Chaminade Dinners

The next Farm to Table dinner at Chaminade is Friday, July 24. Starting at 6 p.m. with passed hors d’oeuvres, these sumptuous dinners—prepared by Executive Chef Kirsten Ponza—are a delight for the palate and the eye. This one features Storrs Winery and Fiesta Farm for an all-inclusive cost of $110. Visit for more information.

New Tasting Room

Check out the new Wargin Wines tasting room in the heart of Soquel Village. And while you’re there, don’t miss the 2012 Montepulciano. 5015 Soquel Drive, Soquel.

PHOTO: Vann Slatter, farmer and winemaker at Hunter Hill, with the 2013 Merlot on harvest day. COURTESY OF HUNTER HILL VINEYARDS & WINERY

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