Seasonal Latitude Adjustment: Head south. Failing that, drink rum.
When the winter blues set in, head south—or just order rum.
By Amber Turpin
If You Like Pina Coladas It wasn't even technically winter yet and I was already deep into my annual tropical vacation fantasy. Now that the sparkle and cheer of holiday time is over, and winter really is here, the cold is really setting in. And that means it's time to head for Hula's. The discovery of the Island Grill's rum list offers a little glimmer of warmth all by itself; if you sit in the right place without a view of the chilly Santa Cruz skies, you could almost convince yourself that you were really enjoying some island bliss. The list is composed of 10 high-end rums (with prices that reflect that status) such as Guatemala's Zaya, which is distilled in small copper pots and aged 12 years, and Ten Cane from Trinidad, derived from the first press of sugar cane and aged in French oak. Hula's also offers three different rum tasting flights—a good way to sample the gamut of various flavors from each tempting location. The kitschy specialty drinks can also introduce some tropical respite from the chill; after you suck down the Don Ho, Mai Tai, Hurricane or gigantic Scorpion Bowl, the fire within will keep you warm all night.
Take Me Away That tropical vacation could become the real thing if you like bidding wars. On Feb. 16, the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association (MCVGA) presents its annual Wine Auction and Gala at the newly reopened Carmel Valley Ranch. The "Diamonds & Denim"-themed event will showcase more than 15 winemakers offering tastes of their vintages to go along with accompanying nibbles created by the resort's chefs. Auction items include trips to Tahiti, New Zealand, Hawaii, Australia and New York. All the requisite wine country auction items for pure pampering and luxury will bring to the table spa packages, shopping sprees, golf trips, fine jewelry and, of course, wine. Proceeds from this annual fundraiser will support the American Vineyard Foundation, viticulture research at the University of California's Monterey outreach office and college scholarships for the children of local agricultural employees. At $165, tickets aren't cheap, but what is? Get 'em at www.montereywines.org or call 831.375.9400.
Locke's Theory Winter is a good time to slow down and learn something new, take the time to read a book, watch a documentary or enroll in a class or two. It's also a good time to warm up to some good food and drink. Combine those motivations and sign up for one of Soif's newest classes. Every Sunday evening until the end of March, experienced wineman John Locke (formerly of Bonny Doon Vineyards) will be expounding on everything from Wine Basics 1, 2 and 3 to Treasures of Emilia-Romagna (this one includes dinner at La Posta) and biodynamic wines. The 90-minute classes are surprisingly affordable (generally $40-$50) and feature four to six wines paired with a little something edible and take-home reference materials. Go to www.soifwine.com for a complete list of the classes or call 831.423.2020 to register.
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