.Pleasant Valley Vineyards

wineNearly all of Pleasant Valley Vineyards’ wines are named after family members—nieces, nephews, grand-nieces, and so on. Winery owners Cathy and Craig Handley have an extensive family, so they’re not going to run out of names anytime soon.

The Handleys proudly named their stunning 2013 Reserve Pinot Noir (around $55), Santa Cruz Mountains, after their newest family addition, a great-granddaughter called Karalynn. And proud they should be of this special wine, too. Bursting with sensuous aromas of heavy red fruit, its typical Pinot flavors of caramel, spice and vanilla are enhanced with characteristic earthiness. Handcrafted from nurtured vines, the vintner selected one special barrel for this limited release—and I would say get some now before it’s all gone. He who hesitates … well, you know the rest of the saying.

I carried the precious bottle of Karalynn Pinot to Au Midi on my birthday to share with my husband and a couple of friends over dinner, the wine being a luscious addition to the French bistro’s upscale cuisine. This delightful intimate restaurant in Aptos is run by a husband and wife team, Muriel and Michel Loubiere, and talented Chef Muriel always prepares interesting and delicious food. Polishing off the Pinot in less than no time, we ordered more wine from the bistro’s ample wine list.

Pleasant Valley Vineyards’ wines can be found all over the Bay Area, including fine restaurants like Manresa in Los Gatos. And when you visit their winery, a grove of redwood trees greets you in the middle of the property.

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Pleasant Valley Vineyards, 600 Pleasant Valley Road, Aptos, 288-0074. pvvines.com. Open from noon to 4 p.m. most Saturdays, April-September, but call ahead to check. $10-$15.

Au Midi is at 7960 Soquel Drive, Aptos, 685-2600. aumidi.com

Bottling Party

Enjoy a five-course wine-paired lunch with Caligra Wines and the opportunity to “bottle your own” at Ben Lomond’s Casa Nostra Ristorante 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 22. Tickets are $45. RSVP at 609-6132 or [email protected]. Also at Casa Nostra is a five-course wine-pairing dinner with the wonderful Odonata Wines, on Tuesday, Aug. 25. Cost is $65 not including tax and gratuity. 9217 Highway 9, Ben Lomond. ristorantecasanostra.com.

APTOS VINES Cathy and Craig Handley, at their winery, Pleasant Valley Vineyards, in Aptos. PHOTO: COURTESY OF PLEASANT VALLEY VINEYARDS


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