As I sipped the supple Sangiovese along with dinner of pork loin and braised English peas, I realized that it was a very good idea for John Ritchey to showcase his Bottle Jack wines in the Surf City Vintners tasting complex. The more the wine opened, the more I liked it. And so will tasters who discover this and other Ritchey wines at the tasting room he began sharing with Silver Mountain Winery last month.
“Before we opened the new tasting room, people had to really seek us out,” Ritchey admits. “The increased visibility—and the response—has been great.”
Filled with a robust and velvety mid-section of savory cherries, the 2014 Bottle Jack Winery Sangiovese—made from Machado Creek Vineyard, Morgan Hill grapes—has now become one of our house favorites. A Santa Cruz native, Ritchey found his way to winemaking by way of Italy (a year studying abroad in Florence) and Moldova (Romania) as a Peace Corps volunteer. “Moldova was my first experience in winemaking—I just fell into it by pure accident since wine is such a huge part of the culture there.”
It was in those Moldovan vineyards that Ritchey first began using a bottle jack to press the freshly harvested grapes. And after a stint with Beauregard Vineyards, then a degree in enology, Ritchey made the leap in 2012, and Bottle Jack was born.
Taking a double gold in the recent State Fair competition, Ritchey’s big, peppery Rhone-style blend of Syrah and Grenache grapes, all from the high slopes of Zayante Vineyards, also pleased us, especially with after-dinner cheeses. At 14.5 percent alcohol, it is a robust stand-alone blend that almost begs to be carefully savored. Notes of allspice and leather fill the center of this opulent creation. Plums adorn the finish. Ritchey calls this wine “almost a field blend” in that the two varietals were harvested on the same day at the same vineyard.
“The wine was pretty much made in the vineyard,” he says.
The winemaker may be modest, but the California State Fair judges were blown away, awarding Bottle Jack’s Syrah-Grenache blend a Double Gold award and a 100 point rating.
Fans of big reds, rejoice! Bottle Jack’s Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Super Tuscan blend, and Merlot are also yours to sample and purchase at the tasting room.
402 Ingalls St., Ste. 29, Santa Cruz. Open Friday from 3 -7 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, Noon-5 p.m. bottlejackwines.com.
Bargetto La Vita
Celebrating its 85th year, our region’s oldest winery is set to release its annual La Vita blend at a party on Sunday, June 10 from 3-5 p.m. at Bargetto Winery. Produced from a custom blend of 50 percent Dolcetto, 29 percent Refosco and 21 percent Nebbiolo, the grapes for this year’s La Vita were grown on the Regan Estate Vineyards. This year’s La Vita beneficiary is Pajaro Valley Community Health Trust, so come on down and enjoy the ceremonial unveiling of the new wine, plenty of tastings, live music and light appetizers. Tickets, $30, can be purchased online at bargetto.com or by calling Bargetto Winery at 831.475.2258 x10. La Vita retails for $60 per bottle.
Changes a la Cart
The bountiful UCSC Farm & Garden Market Cart is open! Located at the corner of Bay & High streets, the market cart will be open from noon to 6 p.m. on Fridays only this season. Stop by and explore the fragrant, organic world of such early season offerings as blueberries, strawberries, broccoli, lemons, arugula, salad mix, shallots, radishes, and a variety of greens including pac choi, spinach and chard. Flower bouquets will also be available, along with packaged quinoa grown on the UCSC Farm.