Cinnabar Winery

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Chardonnay in Balance

Chardonnay has been one of the hallmark wines made in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  In the 1990’s and early aughts, while other California wineries were pushing the envelope on overblown buttery and oaky styles, Santa Cruz Mountain Chards, especially those of Mount Eden Vineyards and winemaker Jeffrey Patterson, were a beacon of hope for those of us who prefer a more restrained, more balanced glass of wine.  Now that the pendulum seems to be swinging towards unoaked, crisp and elegant wines, more Burgundian than Californian in style, these Chardonnays are more fashionable than ever. I’ve never been a Chardonnay fan – until now.  I’ve been exploring Santa Cruz Mountains wineries over the past six months or so — getting updated on what’s new and exciting. In the process I’ve discovered some Chardonnays that turned my tastebuds.  And while I usually don’t buy Chardonnay, I’ve been spending perhaps a little too…

DRINK – An audacious wine, Petite Sirah

According to, audacious means extremely bold or daring, recklessly brave or fearless. I think that’s a great way to describe Petite Sirah. It’s big, it’s bold, it’s beautiful, and yes, adacious. The PS grape does well in many growing regions in California: Mendocino County, Lodi, Paso Robles and of course, Livermore Valley. Each region produces a slightly different style. Some have more bright cherry fruit, others more complexity and tannins. PS I Love You is the name for an annual gathering of Petite Sirah winemakers, growers and groupies. Don’t know Petite Sirah? No, it’s not a smaller variety of the Syrah grape; it’s its own varietal. Often used in blended red wines. But, more and more wineries are making this single variety. In 1975 there were roughly 20 producers. By 2009 that number has grown to 700+. A big question at the Petite Sirah symposium, how mainstream can Petite…