Saturday, 1 September 2012

Wine Tasting with the Antipodeans

    I'm pleased to say that I'll be otherwise occupied for the next couple of days as I introduce my visitors to the Santa Cruz Mountains' wineries. Old friends Iain Davidson and Helen Arthurson from Armidale have come to visit me and Surf City for a couple of days. We're goin' huntin'. For wine, that is.
     I've been wanting to do this for the longest time. The plan it to visit the Ahlgren Vineyard, source of one of the best wines I've ever had. It was years ago, a chardonnay/sémillon blend, and the new-mown grass was right there in the glass. Art. We'll also try to catch the Byington Winery when it's open, and brave the tasting charge, which I hope is worth it. Also Bargetto, because it's been in these parts forever, and tastes like it. 
Byington Vineyard and Winery's tasting room!
Then we'll hit the winemakers' enclave. Bonny Doon started the ball rolling some years back when they plopped their complete winery and tasting room down in a small industrial area on the west side of Surf City--about a km from World Headquarters. Their tasting room and bistro are one of the kewlest destinations in town. And their blends and varietals are as funky as their digs.

But the highlight will surely be our visit to the Rexford Winery. Ex-Director of the UC Observatories Joe Miller is the vintner and he's an alchemist, turning carefully selected crops from nearby vineyards into liquid gold. He doesn't plant or keep vines--part of his craft involves, as he puts it, is cultivating growers! And what growers they are: Regan and Fambrini vineyards are two that come to mind. Their terroir and microclimates are ground zero for pinot noir on this side of the Atlantic. And Joe coaxes the little black fruit to evince the complex characteristics for which the variety is rightly legend.
The Rexford back end, with winemaker Joe Miller at right

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