Vine & Dine

Pelican Ranch Winery

Wine-GT1543-Pelican-RanchFrom Chile’s Casablanca valley to Capitola’s Pelican Ranch

Leah, the daughter of some friends was in town from San Diego last month, and my only chance to see her was a quick meeting up in Pelican Ranch’s tasting room in Capitola. I needed to thank her for the many useful tips she gave us on Chile, a country she visits often, particularly regarding the Atacama Desert, where my husband and I were heading after a few days in Santiago. Leah is also very familiar with Chile’s wine country—which was high on my list to experience, of course—and suggested we visit Casas Del Bosque in the Casablanca Valley. Casas Del Bosque makes incredible wine, including their famous Carménère, and we spent a fruitful afternoon there taking a tour of the expansive winery and doing a private tasting.

Six of Leah’s family were happily settled in at Pelican Ranch tasting many of the winery’s superbly made wines. I zeroed in on a 2014 Cinsault Blanc ($19)—a delightful “white” wine made from the red grape of the Cinsault varietal. Winemaker Phil Crews also makes an excellent “red” Cinsault.

Grapes were harvested from the Silvaspoons Vineyard in the Alta Mesa area, and creating the wine involved a rapid press-crush cycle and after-fermentation, to which 20 percent Torrontes was added.

“We call our Cinsault Blanc “tornado” [pronounced torn-AH-do], because of the great flavor crescendo that is present,” Crews says. “This includes stone fruit, flowers, soft lemon, and white peach.”

“The wine provides a glorious accompaniment to a hot summer day,” Crews writes on his label, “and is uplifting when the sun is hidden by clouds or fog.” With its bright flavors and enticing aroma, I find it uplifting no matter what the weather. Visit the winery this weekend in costume for a spook-tacular time and pumpkin decorating event.

Pelican Ranch Winery, 100 Kennedy Drive, Capitola, 426-6911.

Haunted Cellars

Stockwell Cellars in Santa Cruz is throwing a Halloween Spook Night in the Cellar. There will be “horror” d’oeuvres, live music and dance—with prizes for best costume in various categories. The event is 8 p.m. to midnight, Friday, Oct. 30. Tickets are $25. with wine and other beverages available for purchase. For info visit

SINFULLY GOOD CINSAULT Phil and Peg Crews ready to greet visitors to the Pelican Ranch tasting room. PHOTO: COURTESY OF PELICAN RANCH

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