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Photograph by Jeff Emery
Very Fine Vines: Ripening pinot noir at Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard's Branciforte Ridge vineyard


A mid-harvest word with Santa Cruz Mountain Winery winemaker Jeff Emery.


Harvest Time Crushed This time of year finds all area winemakers and grape growers excited but exhausted, what with the bustle and sleep deprivation of the harvest. Up on Bear Creek Road, Byington Winery is a hub of activity these days, acting as main production site for an array of local winemakers. Jeff Emery of Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard and his sole, multiple-hat-wearing employee Denis Hoey could be found one recent drizzly night in the middle of crushing about 7 tons of grapes. The process is a fascinating blend of science, intuition and hard labor consisting of "90 percent cleanup and equipment repair," according to Emery. A few bins up for crush were the Luchessi Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from an almost vertical slope in Cupertino picked that morning. The grapes are then dumped into a de-stemming machine, which moves them over to a must pump with a progressive chamber for gentler handling. A long tube, nicknamed "The Anaconda" by Emery and Hoey, delivers the must (chunky grape-and-seed soup) to large vats, where it is left to ferment for 10 to 14 days (with constant observation, mixing and testing) before being pressed and put into barrels. After 29 years of experience, Emery still talks about the challenges of variability vs. science, making this ancient craft of winemaking true magic.

Local Boy Makes Good Dessert The Golden Gate Restaurant Association held what it billed the "first-ever edible fashion show" Sept. 26 at the Old Federal Reserve Building in San Francisco. An evening of stiff drinks, loud music, great food and entertainment by the "ladies" ("gender illusionists," actually) from Asia SF culminated in wild urban excess that felt as far away from Santa Cruz as one could get. But in a corner of the upstairs lounge sat our very own Massimo Caporale, president of the popular Watsonville-based Gelato Massimo. Though madly scooping samples of the six featured flavors for the crowd, he nonetheless appeared to be thoroughly enjoying the night, taking a couple of chances to sneak off to the bar now and then and updating yours truly on his new production space in Watsonville. Massimo moved here almost nine years ago to start the company after meeting a traveling Santa Cruzan in his gelato shop near Lake Como, Italy. A visit to the Big Dipper convinced him that Santa Cruz was the place for him, and he now makes over 120 flavors of gelato and sorbet, the newest of which is a delicious caramel with balsamic vinegar. Guess it's still the place for him; even with distribution to big stores like Whole Foods, Massimo says that "Shoppers Corner is one of our best customers." For info see or call 831.761.3198.

Brazilian Flavor For a truly multisensory experience, Davenport Roadhouse has created a "Meet the Artist" dinner series showcasing the work of a local artist paired with a three-course tasting menu for $35 (gratuity not included). On Oct. 18, Adelia Mostar will be presenting photographs of the people and outdoor spaces of her native Brazil. The special Brazilian-theme menu will feature a green salad with mangoes, wood-oven-roasted and spiced corn on the cob, Brazilian fish stew and sweet potato flan, each course paired with a 2-ounce taste of wine. The regular Roadhouse menu will be available as well. Seatings are at 6:30 and 7:30pm; 831.426.8801, ext. 100.

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