.El Vaquero Winery’s 2019 Merlot is a Homerun

The Watsonville winery’s winemaker Alex Prikazsky used grapes from San Benito County’s Muro Vineyard to produce the stellar Merlot

We tore up the floor recently at El Vaquero Winery—dancing to the sexy music of Flor de Caña playing Cuban songs and Colombian cumbia. Everyone had a great time. Winery owner Bob Prikazsky sure knows how to put on a party. Wine is sold by the glass and by the bottle at events, and our group shared several bottles, including an exceptional 2019 Merlot ($33)—a sure-fire winner with its signature low acidity. 

Bob and his winemaker daughter Alex are proud of their well-made and packed-with-flavor Merlot. Grapes are from Muro Vineyard in San Benito County, resulting in a hearty red wine with aromas of plums and chocolate. Flavors of vanilla, coffee and herbs add even more pizzazz. My Mom’s Mole provided tasty Mexican food that night, which paired perfectly.

El Vaquero hosts regular music events in a laid-back style—and they definitely have a following. This family-owned winery is making a name for itself, not only as an event location, but also for its excellent wines. And with Bob and his wife Dean at the helm, their daughter Alex as winemaker, Christian Fedczuk as assistant winemaker and Danny Prikazsky overseeing business management, they’ve got a good thing going. And the family’s two cats, Noir and Bijou, play an essential role as “Pest Management Specialists” of the estate vineyard!

El Vaquero Winery, 2901 Freedom Blvd., Watsonville, 831-607-8118; elvaquerowinery.com.

Priest Ranch Grenache Blanc

Priest Ranch Grenache Blanc 2019 ($24) is a superb wine for fall. Dancing with autumnal spices such as sage and rosemary, this crisp white wine pairs well with triple-cream cheese, chicken and grilled veggies. Good acidity and minerality combined with a touch of tannin make it perfect for drinking as temperatures dwindle. Priest Ranch Tasting Room, 6490 Washington St., Yountville, 707-944-8200; priestranchwines.com.

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