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[whitespace] Through the Grapevine

California winegrowers tote their pride and joy to Santa Cruz Mountains

By Christina Waters

JOINING CONNOISSEUR COLLEAGUES from all over California--including lovely Chronicle contributor Laura Reiley, Sunset's wine editor Sara Schneider, UC-Extension ace Mary Ericson and the Wine Store's master buyer Anita Sjoberg--I spent the better part of last Monday judging recent releases from Santa Cruz Mountain winegrowers. Thirty-six chardonnays and 12 syrahs later (and that's only what I personally tasted), I resurfaced to discover who the top winners were. Held at Aptos' cavernous Bittersweet Bistro, the judging revealed some top guns, especially River Run Vintners. I knew one of those syrahs I ranked was a serious contender--and I was right. Winemaker J.P. Pawloski told me he was pretty happy about the fact that three of his red wines took gold medals, with his mighty River Run Paso Robles Neufeld Vineyard Syrah 1997 tying for Best of Show runner-up with Storrs Rusty Ridge Zinfandel 1998. The top award went to a beautifully balanced Cabernet Franc from Clos La Chance--23600 Congress Springs Rd. in Saratoga, 831.741.2920. River Run took Gold for a lovely Mendocino County Merlot 1997, and one of my favorites was a lean, Burgundy-style 1996 Pinot Noir by Thomas Fogarty, made from Santa Cruz Mountain estate grapes. Start looking for these wines, though some are small operations. River Run, for example, is a tiny winery tucked into the coast range foothills near Aromas, 831.726.3112. Pawloski tells me you really have to hunt for River Run's gorgeous Syrah--so far, you can look at Deluxe Foods and Staff of Life in Santa Cruz, or Oakville Grocery, Riconada market and Pacific Wine & Spirits in Los Gatos.

Turkey Trot

Speaking of old countries, the foods of Turkey--luscious roasted peppers, pomegranate syrup, bulgar dolmas--form the incomparable meze platters that I adore. You probably do too but never for one minute considered making them in your own home. You can learn how by taking "A Taste of Turkey: Entertaining Meze Style," a UCSC Extension cooking class happening on Tuesday, August 22, from 6:30 to 9:30pm, at Mon Cheri Caterers/Cooking School at 461 S. Murphy in Sunnyvale. The instructor is internationally trained chef Tony Benjamin, who's studied with Madeline Kamman and has been invited to cook at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. The fee is $80 and you can enroll by looking for EDP 001W23 under the UC Ext. website: http://www.ucsc-extension.edu.

Happy Birthday, Julia Child

The grande dame of American cookery, Julia Child, celebrates a very big birthday on August 15--the culinary treasure was born in Pasadena in 1912, so you can do the math. The full-service kitchenware and cooking store Sur La Table is hosting a nationwide birthday celebration for Julia on--you guessed it--August 15. Many of today's restaurant chefs, TV cooking personalities and home food aficionados got their start watching the irrepressible Julia whisking, baking, dropping roasts, sharing stories about her years in France, being so enthusiastic about good food that she changed the dining and cooking habits of an entire generation. Sur La Table--which carries an unbelievable inventory of professional-grade cooking and tableware--invites you to come in and sign a specially designed birthday card for Julia, enter a raffle for autographed Julia Child books and, on August 12 and 13, sample delicious cupcakes. Learn all about Sur La Table on the web at www.surlatable.com. Sur La Table is located in the heart of tastefully re-invented downtown Los Gatos--across from Old Town--at 23 University Ave., 408.395.6946. The store is open Mon-Sat 10am-7pm, until 6pm on Sundays.

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From the August 3-9, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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