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Tracks of Our Cheers: Raise a toast this Sunday to the SCMWA's first wine train.


The Santa Cruz Mountain winegrowers board the first wine train this weekend.

By Amber Turpin

Oenophile Express
Every May for the last 12 years, Santa Cruz Mountain vintners have gathered for a big auction, offering ticketholders a glimpse of what's in store in exchange for bids on unique wine-centric goodies (magnums, rare vintages, resort getaways, winemaker dinners ... you get the idea). This year will feature the usual great wine and food, plus one ingenious detail: a train ride. Roaring Camp Railroad in Felton has teamed up with the Santa Cruz Mountain Winegrowers Association to bring us the first-ever wine train. The celebration on Sunday, May 18, will start at 1pm with a stationary tasting. Then, at 3:30pm, climb aboard for a 40-minute loop through the redwoods with the winemakers. Tickets are $55 advance/$65 day of and $20 children. (831.685.8463 or email [email protected])

If you're a cyclist, you've probably already been keyed into the annual Strawberry Fields Ride that has taken place for the last 19 years and happens again on May 18. Not only does the event benefit the nonprofit Cyclist for Cultural Exchange, an organization that promotes peace and global diplomacy, it also tempts participants with a unique, food-friendly angle. Each of the three routes includes rest stops with internationally themed snacks, and the finish line welcomes tired cyclists with a hot dinner and dessert of ganache-dipped strawberries with whipped cream. Longtime local chef, nutritionist and creator of the organic Wholearth Spice Company, David Wells, plans to take part this year, riding his unicycle 100 miles in support of cancer awareness. He is also donating one of his most popular products to the ride, Grandma Dave's Granola. The vegan cereal has no refined sugars or added fat from oil, just pure and simple nuts, grains, seeds, spices and, of course, lots of love. Fortunately for the pedestrians among us, it's also available in bulk at Staff of Life, New Leaf, Deluxe Foods and Shoppers Corner. (

10am may seem a tad early to raise a pint, but on National Homebrewer's Day, the first Saturday in May, the morning toast brought together beer brewers dedicated to the craft and began a day full of homebrew education. The event, also known as the "Big Brew," invites all participants to simultaneously concoct the same two beer recipes chosen by the American Homebrewers Association. This year's picks are a blond "pick your own hop" ale and a Chiswick ale, in honor of recently deceased writer and pioneer of beer and whiskey awareness Michael Jackson. "We toasted him this year ... good guy, we miss him," says homebrewer Dave Bossie. As the aroma of the "liquid bread" wafted around the sunny morning courtyard at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, the six homebrewing stills and their owners bubbled and expounded on ingredients, the hop shortage and technique. Of course, the day also offered ample opportunity to taste some results, including a malty British bitter, a Scotch ale and Bossie's own lauded IPA. The event is gaining popularity beyond its national designation, and in 2007 spread to Israel, Australia, Argentina and Russia. If you missed the toast, the first Saturday in November is "Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day," yet another way to gain some deliciously interactive knowledge from our talented local brewing community.

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