Vine & Dine

Serene Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

wine cheeseThere’s always an upbeat vibe going at MJA’s tasting room on the Westside. On a recent visit, the very sociable owner Marin Artukovich was busy pouring for a roomful of oenophiles having a good time. With the help of staff members, Artukovich makes sure that nobody waits too long to sample his fine wines, while also keeping track of every person’s flight.

Under MJA’s umbrella are two other labels—Serene Cellars and DaVine Cellars—all of them superb wines. The Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Napa Valley ($54) is particularly outstanding. It’s a knock-your-socks-off wine that is perfect for an occasion when you need something a bit special. This garnet-colored nectar has sandalwood, blackberries and cherries on the nose—and its full body and rich tannins lead to a big finish that you can’t fail to appreciate. This Cab, nicknamed Complexity, is the perfect partner for red meat, or I would enjoy it paired with some delectable cheese or dark chocolate. 

Winemaker Rob Lloyd was previously employed at the prestigious Rombauer Vineyards, and MJA’s Kahuna Wine Club manager Jennifer Johnson tells me they “scooped him up”—happy, of course, that he now works for them.

And, last but not least, Artukovich grows premium coffee on his plantations in Hawaii. The next time you’re in MJA’s tasting room, treat yourself to a bag of his special beans. MJA Vineyards, 328 Ingalls St., Santa Cruz, 421-9380. Tasting room is open Sunday through Thursday from noon to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday noon to 8 p.m. Check the website for MJA’s other location on the Summit.

Bonny Doon Art & Wine Festival
Beauregard Vineyards will be just one of the wonderful local wineries taking part in the Bonny Doon Art & Wine Festival—a fundraiser to support the art, science and music programs for the children of Bonny Doon School. The event is from 1-6 p.m. on Saturday, June 22 and tickets are $50, which includes food, beer, wine and music. Local artists such as Santa Cruz Sea Glass, which makes “the most exotic sea glass jewelry in the world,” will be participating (visit Call 425-7777 or visit Tickets can also be purchased at Beauregard Vineyards’ tasting room.

Early Bird Special
Tickets are $45 if purchased before June 28 ($55 after that) for the Santa Cruz Mountains Wine Auction at Roaring Camp Railroads on Sunday Aug. 25. This year’s Vins des Montagnes event promises to be fun and fabulous. Visit for more information.

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