Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir. What can I say that sums it up? On one hand, I had some of my favorite Pinot Noirs to-date there. On the other, some fairly mediocre wines. And one winery in particular that gave me an hour-long headache. :(
I think that, overall, the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation is much like any other winegrowing region, including Anderson Valley. A healthy dose of the good, mixed with some of the bad and a little of the ugly.
Our favorite wines of the entire weekend, hands down, were from Windy Oaks. At least 50% wild yeast, grown on the hillsides above Corralitos. The wines had a surprising amount new French oak, but good barrel selection plus overvintaging must mellow it out because they were damned good if I do say so myself, and I'm very sensitive to high alcohol and too-liberal oaking. Long story short, we're looking forward to popping a cork very soon because, after all, wine is mmmm mmmm good.
The worst wine of the weekend... wasn't made out of grapes, so I'm not sure it actually counts. It was from the tree persuasion, not the vine. Hmmm...
Here's a list of wineries that we visited and a slideshow of some of our weekend pics (unfortunately, we were too busy tasting to take as many as we should). It was the only renown Pinot-growing region in California that I hadn't visited to-date solely for the purpose of tasting one of its signature varietals. On top of it, Joe and I were able to visit our good, albeit formerly long-lost, friends Reina and Keith, eat some awesome meals, and attend the only party in my life where there was a line for the MEN'S restroom and NOT the women's!
Wineries tasted from Friday to Sunday: Sarah's Vineyard, Clos La Chance, Windy Oaks, Testarossa, Hunter Hill, Burrell School, Fortino, Byington, David Bruce and Storrs Winery.
Strange coincidence at Testarossa - the gentleman pouring the first wines asked where we were from. Turns out with further questioning that he had just opened a wonderful Anderson Valley Pinot Noir the night before: the 2006 Charles Vineyard Pinot Noir from Papapietro Perry. It was fantastic of course.