I really like the Pinot Noir wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains. I find them racy, aromatic, and well-balanced. Unfortunately, they are usually produced in small quantities by family-owned boutique wineries and therefore, are not easy to find in mainstream wine stores. Now, if you live in the Bay Area, there is a great place to taste and buy these wines: Vino Locale, a small wine bar in Palo Alto that specializes in local products. Many of their wines come from little known Santa Clara and Santa Cruz County producers. And if you're not familiar with their names, just ask Randy Robinson the owner, for a recommendation. He knows all of them very well.
I was there recently with a good friend of mine as we were both low on Santa Cruz Pinots. We bought a couple of bottles of our favorite, the Muccigrosso Pinot Noir and while we were there, we also tasted the 2004 Silver Mountain Vineyards Pinot Noir Tondre's Grapefield that was available at the tasting bar. The wine was not from the Santa Cruz Mountains but from the nearby Santa Lucia Highlands. It was nevertheless delicious: fragrant, well structured, with a long finish. We walked out of the store with arms full, but we were happy.
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