Had my morning coffee walking along the Santa Cruz pier, watching the sun rise over the mountains with the smell of the sea air and the sounds of sea lions barking in the background. Looks like it will be a nice day for wine tasting.

From Santa Cruz I drove into the mountains to get to wineries that were open on a weekday. My first stop was Burrel School Winery. The building is an actual schoolhouse from the 1950’s that was restored and converted to a winery. The property was on a ridge, in fact a fault line in the mountains, great view The produced a wide range of wines from santa cruz fruit as well as sourced fruit from other appellations in the state. Their 2007 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir started with a huge nose of red raspberries with a touch of cigar box followed by long fruit and a balanced, tight finish.  Their 2009 Estate Chardonnay started with toasty notes, mineraly but not heavy fruit with a toasty finish. Their 2007 Syrah “Pichon Vineyard” had a nose of smoky bluberries, was dark and concentrated with firm acids on the finish. Was tasty but I thought it dropped a bit on the finish.

A few miles away was TestaRossa Vineyards. The site of an old monastery, an impressive building on top of a hill. All the wines they poured this day was from outsourced fruit from outside santa cruz appellation. Their 2010 Bien Nacido Chardonnay was old school Cali, light gold, aromas of butterscotch and pineapple with juicy tropical fruits on the finish. The 2010 Bien Nacido Pinot Noir was medium red in the glass, red cherry with some barnyard on the nose, tight, bright fruit with crisp acidity on the finish.

Next stop was the tasting room for Cinnaber Winery located in the town of Saratoga. From their tasting menu I liked the 2008 “Clautiere Vineyard” Mourvedre from Paso Robles. With a nose of raspberry, chocolate and herbs on the nose with a finish that on my notes I wrote “chocolate covered cherries”.

Back in town I stopped at a couple of urban winery tasting rooms, Storrs Winery and Vine Hill Winery. At Storrs I enjoyed the 2007 Pinot Noir from Monterey fruit. Medium red with some barnyard and cola on the nose with juicy fruit and a firm finish. Their 2008 Grenache from the Central Coast was dark red with a nose of dark cherry and blueberry, concentrated fruit with a dusty, firm finish. Very tasty but needs some more time for everything to come together.

At Vine Hill, their 2009 Cumbre Chardonnay from santa cruz fruit had a sea tang on the nose with tight fruit with slate undertones and a nice balance. Their 2007 Cumbre “Hicks Family” SCM Pinot Noir had warm and dusty nose with rosemary and mineral on the balanced fruit with a long finish. The 2006 Cumbre “Raffanelle Vineyard” SCM Pinot Noir was very nice with a nose of barnyard and fresh herbs, great balance, tight with herb notes on the long finish.

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