Vine & Dine

Lucia Highlands

wine glassDinner at Bittersweet Bistro is always a delightful experience. Food, service and ambiance all come together superbly in this well-established restaurant. And expert chef Thomas Vinolus and his wife Elizabeth, co-owners of Bittersweet, work hard to make sure that every customer’s visit is a memorable one.  

Although I love dining on Bittersweet’s pretty outdoor patio, on a rather chilly evening four of us headed inside for the comfortable warmth of the restaurant’s interior. One of our friends had arrived early and was already enjoying a glass of wine at the bar, so he carried the remainder over to our table, and his wife ordered a cocktail when she arrived.

Spotting a Lucia Highlands 2013 Pinot Noir ($60) on the menu, we ordered it to share. Whether we had fish or meat, we wanted to enjoy a good wine. Life is not all about white wine with fish and red wine with meat.

Fruit for this luscious Pinot comes from Fogstone Vineyard, owned by Bret Sisney and Gary Filizetti, in the prime grape-growing region of Santa Lucia Highlands. As Sisney and his wife Carol sell most of their grapes from vineyards they own to other wineries, we are fortunate that they have their own label, Lucia Highlands, and are producing some excellent wines, the Pinot being no exception. Bursting with aromas of red fruit, spice and earth, and with robust flavors of strawberry, cherry, vanilla, and smoke, this Pinot is a mouthful of sheer pleasure.

Lucia Highlands wine can be found in local stores such as The Fish Lady, Deluxe Foods of Aptos and Seascape Foods. It’s also available at the Britannia Arms in Capitola and Rootstock Wine Bar in Los Gatos.

Lucia Highlands, 1534 River Road, Salinas, 750-8888. Bittersweet Bistro, 787 Rio Del Mar Blvd., Aptos, 662-9799.

Summit Wineries Annual Solstice

Snag your tickets now for the upcoming fourth annual Solstice on the Summit Festival. The festive weekend includes seven wineries providing a top-of-the-world wine-tasting experience, with gifts for sale by local artisans, live music, tours, food, and mountain wine. All wineries are in the Summit Road area between Los Gatos and Santa Cruz: Burrell School, MJA Vineyards, Silver Mountain, Villa del Monte, and Wrights Station. Muns Vineyard and Radonich Ranch will be hosted at the Summit Store, Silver Mountain, Villa del Monte, and Wrights Station. Each winery will offer a different festival experience celebrating summer, so visit them all. The event is from noon to 5 p.m. on June 20 and 21, and tickets, which are good for both days and include an event wineglass, are $25. Visit for more info.

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