.La Vida Bella’s 2016 Pinot Noir Elevated by Bold Flavors

My friend Mari and I drove to La Vida Bella on a bright and sunny autumn day in the Aptos hills. We found a warm spot at an outdoor picnic table and munched on our quiche, cheese and crackers as we went through a flight of La Vida Bella wines. LVB’s tasting room is inside a rustic barn where Mari and I headed every time we wanted to try another wine. The whole experience was delightful. There was even a bocce ball court on the property.

Of all the wines I tried that day, my favorite was the 2016 Estate Pinot Noir ($47), “Reir” (Spanish for “laugh”). 

“It’s one of the fanciful names we have given most of our wines that describe ‘the beautiful life,’ or la vida bella,” says Pamela Minnis, who founded the vineyard with her husband Joseph Quink. 

The Pinot’s bright red fruit flavors, pepper, spice and bold tannins paired well with our munchies.

The winery is open only the first Saturday of the month by reservation (the next one noon-5pm on Feb. 5), so plan your visit in advance. Tastings are $20 per person. LVB also produces extra virgin olive oil from its trees ($25/375 ml).

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La Vida Bella Vineyard, 1624 Chardonnay Ridge Road, Aptos. 831-722-3394. lavidabellavineyard.com.

Clean Juice

Karen Brenner, owner of Clean Juice in Aptos, poured samples at a recent event. They were all wonderful, with a distinct “health-boost” flavor in each sip. The Wellness Shots, including elderberry and wheatgrass, are delish, and the cold-pressed juices are divine, especially the cashew milk latte. Clean Juice also makes açai bowls, protein smoothies, sandwiches, wraps, salads and more. 

Clean Juice, Rancho Del Mar Shopping Center, 100 Rancho Del Mar, Aptos. 831-661-0614. cleanjuice.com.

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