Weekend Winos

Enthusiasts in search of quality libations to enhance weekends.


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Antique Fair Led to Santa Clara Valley Wine Discovery

GoatHillThe group had the Goat Hill Fair on our “list of places to explore” for some time.  The vintage theme, antiques and hand-made items were primarily of interest to the ladies in the group……. then, we discoverd that there are more than 20 wineries around Morgan Hill and Gilroy so the gents were happy to join.  The Goat Hill Fair outgrew its origins in a real 14 acre goat farm in the Santa Cruz mountains and now takes over the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Watsonville, CA for a weekend each May and Novemeber.  With more than 80 vendors participating, there is something for everyone.  These are real antiques and vintage items, and we made the most of our afternoon at the Goat Hill Fair.

We knew we would not be able to visit all 20 wineries, and realized that we knew very little about the Santa Clara Valley Wineries.

FortinoThe website is very informative and reminds us that : “Silicon Valley” – it’s easy to forget this area’s role as California’s first premium wine production region – the Santa Clara Valley. Native Americans named it “the Valley of the Heart’s Delight.” French and Italian immigrants who settled here during the Gold Rush era recognized the rich soils and Mediteranean climate as the perfect New World home for their European grape varietals. And so it begins…

I must confess the decision of what wineries to visit was based on what time the tasting rooms opened, since we were, afterall, on our way to the Goat Hill Fair.  So we started at Fortino Winery, they opened at 11 am and then visited the others around Watsonville Road and Hacker Pass Hwy 152.   Solis Winery, Sarah’s Vineyard, Hecker Pass Winery were within walking distance, and 3 or 4 more were just up the street, but we wisely decided to make a point to return some other time to visit the rest.

The overall experience was fantastic and very realxing. There were no crowds,  people were friendly and very knowleadgeable and the wines were good.  Many of the vineyards are family owned and they mostly produce small lots that they are very proud of.  Unfortunatly our time was limited, but no doubt we will be back!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Caipirinhas for Carnival

This weekend the winos gathered prepared with everything we had read and experienced about Carnival and Brazil. One couple had actually been to the Samba Parade in Rio and brought video from the event.  What a treat!

CaipirinhasFirst, the caipirinhas.  Most everyone had tried them before and yes they are very easy to drink. Caution!  Drinking too many  of them can cause a terrible hangover.

We did find the traditional natural cane Cachaca (it comes only from Brazil and is made form 100% fresh cane juice) at the local BevMo.  The alternative would have been rum or vodka, but we wanted to be as authentic as possible.  Cachaca, limes, sugar or simple syrup, and ice was all we needed.  Everyone set out to make their own and then we selected a winner to make the next pitcher.

In a rocks glass, we placed 4 lime wedges with 2 tablespoons of superfine sugar (some used simple syrup) and with a muddler we mashed the lime and sugar together.  Next the crushed ice (in a clean dish towel take ice and crush it) and 2 ounces of Leblon Cachaca. Shake or stir and garnish with a fresh lime.

The group preferred the stirred version and some who felt is was too sweet, topped off their glass with club soda.  We set off to make a pitcher for those who wanted a second glass and took the short cut of 2 parts Cachaca to 1 part fresh lime juice and 1 part simple syrup.  I liked my individual glass better, but the pitcher was more efficient for a large group.

feijoadaOur hosts took the time to research and make feijoada, many in the group had not tasted this traditional Brazilian stew of black beans with beef and pork.  The vegetarians in the group had been warned, and a beautiful salad was prepared for them.  Using Tyler Florence’s recipe from the food network the result was DELICIOUS. I looked up the recipe when I got home and truly appreciated all the effort that went into this feast.

With a cup of coffee in hand we sat around the TV and watched the videos from the Rio Samba Parade that our friends had attended a few years ago in Rio’s Sambodromo.  We learned that while it looks lavish and a lot of fun, it is a serious competition with more than 70 samba schools participating.  We all agreed that a group trip to Rio for Carnival should be on our list!