More Santa Cruz and in the Dooniverse

17 Sep

Our daughter Kristin drove down from Berkley, where she’s in Business School. She’s also the business officer in the wine club, so came to “research” with us. We drove out to Beauregard, which is in the town of Bonny Doon (not to be confused with the winery). Rachel, a budding sommelier, poured, and we talked about wine and food. This is another small winery that sells most of their wine out of the tasting room or the club. Kristin liked best their everyday “Lost Weekend Saloon” (dedicated to their registered landmark tasting room building) white and red every day wines. The Nelson Vineyard Syrah was a great pairing with a milk chocolate candy filled with wine infused caramel. This was a surprise, since milk chocolate and sweet candies generally don’t pair well with dry tannic red wines….perhaps it was the infused wine….it’s always worth trying a new pairing…you never know.


Back in Santa Cruz, we went for a long walk along the beach on West Cliff drive, watching surfers and other ocean beings. Eventually we headed inland to the Bonny Doon Tasting Room, where we had a fun, entertaining and  wine-delicious tasting with Addison Morphy. Many of you know that Bonny Doon is the baby of the eccentric Randall Graham(check out videos of him on U-tube), who popularized screw caps on bottles (no corks are used at Bonny Doon) and grew his winery to 500,000 cases per year with “innovative” marketing. More recently, Randall had a

Kristin Lori & Ray in a barrel

change of philosophy, and now wants to make the best wines possible for himself. He sold off the big wine brands and downsized to 30,000 cases. This is what prompted us to want to learn more about what’s going on and try Bonny Doon wines. Randall is still an interesting and eccentric person after our own hearts…with no hesitation making (bad) puns (e.g., his world is the Dooniverse). Also, Addison described the latest and most outrageous project, growing a new San Juan Batista vineyard from seed. This is unheard of…vineyards are grown from cuttings on rootstock. As Addison said, this will be “either the greatest triumph or the most ridiculous failure”…interesting in any case.


The wines and wine bottles are interesting, most of the wines are biodynamic, and all of them at least “sustainable”. Their Nebbiolo is one of the two non-italian Nebbiolo’s that we’ve had that have some of the character we love in Italian Nebbiolos. Their famous “Le Cigare Volant” is a lovely wine, and a take-off on a Chateauneuf du Pape wine regulation that doesn’t allow alien spaceships to land in the vineyards. The “Cunning” and “Contra” wines are stand-outs as


well. The dessert wines were a hit as well…with their Vin de Paille (Paille – wheat in French) both delicious and inexpensive. We will be looking to bring in some of these wines to Pairings. Cellar Door is a restaurant at the tasting room…Wed night is community dinner night, which we signed up for (see below).


As a side note, I’ve wondered from time to time how much alcohol evaporates when one “swirls”. I know that the “vapor pressure” of alcohol in a liquid is such that evaporation occurs, but don’t know how significant it is. Somehow this came up in our discussion and Addison did a little demo I’d never seen. He poured a wine, swirled vigorously and then blew into the glass…the air shimmered briefly, from alcohol re-condensing on the water vapor from the breath. I plan scientifically measure how much the alcohol changes…stay tuned.


We had a nice lunch at Kelly’s French Bakery (Kelly?…French?), and stopped in at the Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard/ Quinta Cruz tasting room, where Angela gave us a nice tasting. They’ve been around since 1975, have nice restrained wines, with both standard varietals under the Santa Cruz name and Portuguese varietals under the Quinta Cruz name. The 100% Graciano is rare, and a real treat. Their “port” is made with the same varietals as in Portugal and, even better, they use a brandy made from the same varietals to fortify it instead of the tasteless grape alcohol in “real” ports. The result is a delicious port with less of the alcoholic taste in the back palate that accompanies many young ports. Kristin got a bottle of the Tinta Roriz (better known as Tempranillo in Spain). There are several other tasting rooms in the same area as Bonny Doon and Santa Cruz/Qunta Cruz, but we decided to continue our nice walk back to the Inn where we relaxed on the front porch, looking out at the ocean.

Community Dinner at the Cellar Door at Bonny Doon. This is a prix fix dinner of 3 courses (including wine for the first course), with everyone sitting at a long table and the food served on platters family style. Luckily, we sat near some fun and interesting people and had a great time. Local greens, Asiago, mustard and herb salad was refreshing with the Vinho Grinho. A complementary course had strawberries, basil and a strange smoky goat cheese; not particularly to our liking. The Seared Skirt Steak with Quinoa, heirloom tomatoes, Burratta and basil was delicious and paired well with the recommended Cunning 2008 (Carignan and Mourvedre). Dessert was a delicious stonefruit tatin (peaches) with mascarpone ice cream and the amazing 2007 Angel Paille we’d tasted earlier in the day…a fitting end to the final meal of this research trip. Up early the next day to drive to the San Francisco Airport.


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