Although winemaker Jerold O’Brien’s dog Oscar is long gone, he is memorialized on every Oscar’s Wild Red label with Kathleen Bertrand’s loving and poignant illustration. O’Brien’s 2012 Oscar’s Wild Red ($34) is a Merlot-dominant Bordeaux-style blend with an intense, peppery tang. While cooking dinner, I opened up a bottle and was immediately smitten with its robust flavors of black currant, spice, tobacco, herbs and red fruits. This mouthwatering mélange with a superb mouthfeel will set your tongue atingle. So, don’t go barking up the wrong tree buying an inferior vino, head to Silver Mountain’s tasting room (actually, there are two locations!), and try Oscar’s Wild Red. As O’Brien says, “It’s a doggone good wine.”
At 2,100 feet, the tasting room at Silver Mountain’s winery up Old San Jose Road offers a panoramic view of its certified organic vineyards and extends out to Monterey Bay. Tasting is $15, but you can take a picnic and watch the hawks swoop by.
Silver Mountain Vineyards, 328D Ingalls St., Santa Cruz; Silver Mountain Drive, Los Gatos. 408-353-2278. silvermtn.com.
We are so fortunate to have good bread in our area. And Beckmann’s Old World Bakery makes some of the best. Peter Beckmann, who hails from Germany, had hands-on experience as a baker’s apprentice in his home country before opening his bread company in Santa Cruz in 1985. He honors the German commitment to traditional bread-making—simple, natural, healthy, delicious—and the ingredients he uses attest to that. One of my favorites is the German Farm Bread made from unbleached wheat flour, whole wheat flour, dark rye flour, water, fresh yeast and sea salt. And I love the Home-Bake Francese Rolls, hand-shaped Italian rolls which are ready in under 10 minutes from your own oven. I usually have some handy in the freezer. It says on Beckmann’s bags, “Eat Good Bread.” And, yes, we will. Visit beckmannsbakery.com for a list of products, including delicious fruit pies. Beckmann’s bread is available in several stores and 40 farmers markets throughout the Bay Area.