.Hallcrest Vineyards’ Outstanding and Intense Merlot 2018

John Schumacher produces such a wide variety of wines at his Hallcrest Vineyards that it’s difficult to choose any particular one. But the 2018 Merlot I found at the Summit Store in Los Gatos is a special wine that’s hard to beat. 

And when you taste wines from Hallcrest, you’re also tasting a piece of history. Nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains, it was founded in the 1880s by the Hall family—initially as a retreat from their home in San Francisco. A vineyard was planted in 1941, and the first vintage was in  1946.

Nowadays, Hallcrest is owned and operated by Schumacher, and after decades in the business he’s making some outstanding wines. The 2018 Muro Vineyard Merlot ($48) is a testament to his skills, and it’s a perfect wine for the upcoming holidays. “The flavor profile,” says Schumacher, “is firm and well-made—with intense brambly fruit along with sage tea and nutmeg. I am so proud to release this.”

Schumacher also operates a wholly organic line of wines under his Organic Wine Works label. Folks looking for 100% organic without added sulfites should head to Hallcrest’s tasting room to sample them, plus all their other wines. Covid-19 rules change often, so check first if they’re open. 

Hallcrest Vineyards, 379 Felton Empire Road, Felton. 831-335-4441, hallcrestvineyards.com.

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Taquitos Nayarit

Picture this: A lush vineyard on a bright sunny day in October. This was the setting for a friend’s invitation to a gathering in his vineyard. As well as an abundance of wines to try, a taco truck also awaited to serve tasty food to hungry guests.

Taquitos Nayarit cooks up terrific nosh, that’s for sure. Once you have selected chicken, pork or beef on your taco, then you simply add all the trimmings—including spicy peppers and hot sauce. Based in Castroville, Maria and Ernesto travel all over with their taco truck. We shared a table with Jimmy Sampson, a manager at his parents’ company Airtight Vinyl Siding and Windows in Soquel.

Taquitos Nayarit, Merrit Street, Castroville. Maria’s cell: 831-588-8168; Ernesto’s cell: 831-227-1287.


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