.El Vaquero Winery’s 2019 Carignane is Tasty and Story-filled

Also, Collectivo Felix Dinners at the Swift Street Courtyard and Aptos’ newly opened California Coffee

El Vaquero’s 2019 Sandy Lane Vineyard Carignane also goes by “One-Eyed Charley,” named after Charley Parkhurst. Parkhurst was a spirited stagecoach driver in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1850. After being kicked by a horse and losing an eye, he gained the one-eyed moniker.
The Carignane label depicts Parkhurst driving a stagecoach drawn by a skeleton horse. A trip to El Vaquero Winery reveals more about this local legend. It’s a journey worth taking. 
Husband and wife team Bob and Dean Prikazky run the operation, and their daughter Alex is the winemaker. Often used for blending, the medium-bodied, fruit-forward Carignane ($36) pairs well with many different foods.
I suggest you take the next stagecoach to El Vaquero, try their many wines—and learn more about One-Eyed Charley.
El Vaquero Winery, 2901 Freedom Blvd., Watsonville. 831-607-8118; elvaquerowinery.com.

Collectivo Felix Dinners

Diego Felix was cooking up a storm the evening we attended one of his special five-course dinners. A welcome vermouth-based drink awaited us, followed by an exceptional array of exciting food with distinct South American flair representing Felix’s Argentinian roots. The primero dish, popped quinoa scallops, was extraordinary, as was the segundo course, local mushroom and huitlacoche with candied radish and fresh herbs. The main course, expertly prepared Malbec and mole braised beef rib, was unforgettable. Carefully selected wine pairings are offered for an extra cost. These wonderful monthly dinners ($90) are held in the Swift Street Courtyard in 11th Hour Coffee’s beautiful space.
For reservations email [email protected]

California Coffee

There is a brand-new coffee shop in Aptos, and it’s delightful. California Coffee owner Sylvia Reyes offers an abundant selection of coffees, teas and food—and a calendar of eclectic music events to look forward to. Local favorites the Joint Chiefs performed at the grand opening.
California Coffee, 9105 Soquel Drive, Aptos. 831-684-2750.

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