KQED Food Blog: Bay Area Bites: Do the Doon
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Thursday, February 23, 2006
Do the Doon



Going to Bonny Doon on a wine-sipping excursion is the perfect Bay Area day trip. You career down ninety blue miles of wave-crashing Pacific Coast Highway to the lush mountains of Santa Cruz in anticipation of wine slipping down your throat like the devil in velvet trousers. (Whether you do it in a BRAND! NEW! PRIUS! is, of course, your choice.) Ten miles north of Santa Cruz proper, you will drive inland for a few miles until you reach Pine Flat Road. And if the fog is smoking over the coast, have no fear, Bonny Doon's tasting rooms always seem to be curiously sozzled in dappled light.

While the tasting rooms aren't actually on Bonny Doon's own vineyard (their CA grapes are sunning themselves in Soledad and their European grapes are in, well, Europe), there's certainly nothing unlovely about the frankly picturesque wood shack in Santa Cruz. Plus, no matter how hard you try, you just won't run into Syrah snobs or Cab effetes here. The atmosphere is funky, rustic, and relaxed, yet it still manages to buzz happily with heavy offers of some damn good wine.

The tasting used to be free but really, the new charge of $3 isn't much to fork over for six tastes of very different wines. Plus, the tasting room staff are so exuberant about their liquid wares that if you are truly interested by the wines, they just might bring out a few extra bottles that they happen to have open. However, if you are lucky enough to be a member of one of their wine clubs -- they have two: Distinctive Esoteric Wine Network (DEWN) and Vino Voyages, which is basically a dinner party and European vacation in every shipment -- you taste for free and get 10% off any purchases you make.

Whatever you do, make sure you pack a lunch to help soak up all the Nebbiolos, Aglianicos, and Charbonos (I always land my group some choice cheeses, olives, cured meats, crusty sweet baguettes, and an apple or two) and spread out on the picnic tables in Bonny Doon's ridiculously idyllic grounds next to a crisply bubbling creek. If you're very blessed, you might have an unexpected guest join your picnic: a soft black cat of Falstaffian proportions, who certainly looks as though he knows his way around a wine barrel.

Aside from one or two "meh" reds and a Chenin Blanc that balked mightily when I made the mistake of serving it with Meyer lemon-simmered baby artichokes, I haven't met a Bonny Doon wine that I didn't want to immediately run out and buy a case of. Some of my personal perennial favorites are Old Telegram, Le Cigare Volant, Il Circo: Uva di Troia "La Violetta", Ca'del Solo Sangiovese, Clos de Gilroy, and the Thai-tastic Pacific Rim Riesling. However, the longer Bonny Doon's brainchild, Randall Grahm, lives, the more fantastical wines he scares up and the happier my glass becomes.

Bonny Doon Vineyard Tasting Rooms
10 Pine Flat Road
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Monday-Sunday 11:00am-5:00pm
Open 7 days a week except major holidays
Phone: 831.425.4518
 
 

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here! Here! I second your comments. The power of an open and friendly staff of a wine-tasting room cannot be underestimated. We actually joined DEWN because of the great, non-snobby vibe of the wine tasting room and have been happily learning about and trying wines since.

2/23/2006 6:43 AM

 
Blogger Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic said...

Awesome. We joined DEWN as well -- it was a 5-year anniversary present to each other becase, after all, 5 years is wood (geddit? Wood barrels?) -- and love it. Wines can be so confusing that we thought it was a grand idea to concentrate on a single producer and since Bonny Doon does so many wines, it never gets boring or repetitive!

What did you think of the last Cab Franc/Chenin Blanc shipment?

2/23/2006 9:51 AM

 

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