.Santa Cruz Shakespeare Now Foodie-Friendly

Grab a glass of chilled Birichino Malvasia Bianca and an avocado and jack cheese sandwich from The Buttery, and enjoy the spectacular view from the picnic tables overlooking the Monterey Bay. You’re at the Delaveaga Grove, where Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s 2019 season now includes tasty food offerings and a brand new wine and beer bar, featuring the wares of such local favorites as Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, Sones Cellars, Birichino, and others.

Some nice choices of light meals you can enjoy with your theater date while perched on one of the 22 picnic tables with views the folks in Iowa would kill for: the Buttery’s Cobb salad, a chicken-romaine classic, a turkey and swiss sandwich, and more. Perhaps a coffee and something from Pacific Cookie Company will hold you all the way through the second act.

Of course you can stop by and order items at the concession window, or simply pick up a glass of wine—the handsome stemless glassware comes engraved with Santa Cruz Shakespeare on the bowl ($3 extra). Nicer than plastic. 

Or you can have your order waiting for you. Here’s how that works: Pre-order fresh sandwiches and salads when you purchase your tickets, and your food items will be waiting for you at the concession area, better known as the Q-Hut Café, as early as 90 minutes before the show. Don’t forget that pre-orders must be placed online or at the Box Office no later than 6 p.m. two days in advance of your performance. It’s your best bet, since there’s limited daily delivery of non-reserved meals. Terrific expansion of the longstanding tradition of eating and drinking while enjoying Shakespeare—just the way the Bard himself did.

Wine Discoveries at Soif

I tasted my way through a galaxy of new-school wines from a new generation of Santa Cruz Mountain winemakers at a brilliant little Soif event last weekend. On offer were not only dozens of fresh-edge ideas in locally made wines—natural methods, unexpected sources and very low-intervention craft—but eight winemakers themselves, pouring and charming the tasting crowd. Practicing their rockstar marketing moves, the young oenologists were happy to explain what they were up to. Very exciting. 

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Ryan Stirm was one of the assembled who works, shares and conceptualizes collaboratively with his colleagues, trading technical know-how, experiments and grapes to refine each others’ vintages. A favorite was Stirm Wines 2017 Kick-On Vineyard Riesling ($24), with a gorgeous ginger ale nose and 13.5% alcohol gravitas. “It was a ripe year,” he grinned. “Next year’s Riesling will be much lower alcohol.” I was fine with this well-balanced structure. 

Equally impressive was a 2018 Clarksburg Chenin Blanc made by Megan Bell of Margin Wines, using grapes sourced entirely from the Santa Cruz Mountain appellation. Brimming with the lively acidity you expect from this grape, it offered a floral opening leading to green apples, gardenia and quince, all in ultra-light, crisp 12% alcohol ($28). You’ll find Margins Wines at Bad Animal, The Cremer House Home, Vinocruz, and of course at Soif

I was smitten with Madson Wines’ PM Staiger Vineyard Chardonnay 2016. At 13.1% alcohol, it’s a racy, non-oaked beauty ($32). Light, grape-driven, sustainably-made, experimental, and lower alcohol seem to be this generation’s motifs. These are feisty, often-elegant creations well worth searching out. Also impressive was an excellent new school 2017 Moonmilk Chardonnay (not oily or heavily oaked) from Florez Wines, made by James Jelks from Scotts Valley grapes. Perfection at under 13% alcohol.


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