Barbera can be pretty difficult to find, but Byington Winery in Los Gatos produces an exceptional one, and it’s not to be missed. Byington’s 2015 Amador County Barbera ($55) is a force to be reckoned with. It captures the full-bodied earthiness that this red Italian grape is known for. In Italy, Barbera is lower down on the rung than other varieties such as Nebbiolo. Still, its bright acidity makes it an easy pairing wine with many kinds of foods, especially with rich dark meats and herbaceous cheeses. We drank it with some leftover Indian food, and it was a perfect match! I also poured myself a glass before dinner just to enjoy this beautiful dark-as-night wine on its own. I’m sure it goes well with a plate of pasta as well!
Nestled in the rural Santa Cruz Mountains, Byington is a beautiful place to visit, with a variety of wines to try and guided tours of the vineyards, production facility and wine cave. If you bring your own picnic, the fee is the cost of a half-bottle of wine per person.
Byington Vineyard & Winery, 21850 Bear Creek Road, Los Gatos. 408-354-1111. byington.com.
My husband and I met up with friends recently at Cantine. It was a rather sad occasion for us as they are moving to Georgia. But it was a good reason to indulge in several glasses of wine! Cantine is a cozy wine bar that carries many local wines and hosts occasional pop-up tastings. My two favorites are Le P’tit Paysan Rosé, made by local wine star Ian Brand, and a truly fabulous 2019 Lester Estate Syrah. Cantine also has wine and beer on tap, including Humble Sea, Corralitos Brewing and Seabright Brewery. They have a mouth-watering tapas menu, too. Try the fingerling potatoes, burrata with watermelon and semolina-dusted calamari—all delicious.
Cantine Winepub, 8050 Soquel Drive, Aptos. 831-612-6191. cantinewinepub.com.