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A World-Class Celebration of Food and Wine in Mountain View (8/29/2014)
When the Silicon Valley heartbeat city of Mountain View was incorporated more than a century ago, the art of winemaking was taking root in the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains. Named for its vistas of that spectacular forested range, Mountain View will celebrate the now famous wine region debuting its inaugural Taste of the Mountains Passport Days at this year’s Mountain View Art & Wine Festival, September 6-7.
“Each year we strive to give festival attendees a memorable experience,” says Chamber of Commerce President Oscar Garcia. “With the introduction of our Wine Haven tent, they will be able to sip and savor premium wines from local vintners and sample fine cheeses from around the world.”
Sponsored by the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association, the tasting event will showcase five artisanal wineries: The Mountain Winery, Cinnabar, Savannah-Chanelle, Loma Prieta and Domenico. Inside the Wine Haven, visitors will have the chance to engage in tête-à-têtes with ardent oenophiles from the wineries, discussing the finer points of terroir and tannins or the pros and cons of corks and screwtops.
“These five great names in wine are flagship wineries of the Santa Cruz Mountains,” says Megan Metz, executive director of the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association. “Taste of the Mountains attendees will experience some of their premium Cabernets, Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays—the signature varietals of our region—as well as some rare Pinotage.”
The Mountain Winery, home of the famous Paul Masson château, is the birthplace of California Pinot Noir. The vines were originally grafted from French stock imported by Masson from his native Burgundy. Today the Mountain Winery continues in the Burgundian style of austere, well-structured and complex wines.
Cinnabar is a small, family-owned winery founded by Tom Mudd, a Stanford PhD research engineer who saw himself as an alchemist “blending science with a touch of nature’s magic.” The Cinnabar name and medallion reflect his belief that transforming rainwater into handcrafted wines was a form of modern-day alchemy. Karina and Jack Mudd carry on their father’s passion and legacy with critically acclaimed wines from grapes that express the unique atmospheric conditions and soils in which they were grown.
With origins going back more than a century, Savannah-Chanelle is owned by Mike and Kellie Ballard and named for their two daughters. Focused on Burgundy varietals, especially Pinot Noir, the wines are known for their velvety-smooth textures. Among the many remarkable historic anecdotes surrounding the winery, the plant material for their estate Chardonnay was brought by Paul Masson from Burgundy’s Corton-Charlemagne in the 1860′s. Little did he know that he was preserving the world’s only example of pre-phylloxera Corton-Charlemagne. The original vineyard in France died out long ago.
Boutique winery Loma Prieta is the largest producer of Pinotage in North America. The signature grape of South Africa, where it was developed in 1925 as a hybrid of Pinot Noir and Rhone Cinsault, Pinotage is made by very few wineries worldwide. Loma Prieta is the only winery producing single-vineyard designates from the grape, which is characterized by the cherry fruit flavors of Pinot and the earthiness of Cinsault.
Dominick Chirichillo learned about winemaking in the New York basement of his Italian grandfather. His heritage remains an important influence on the winemaking style and zest for the business that define Domenico Winery. Dominick is proud not only of his more than 300 medals, but of the over 200,000 cases of wine produced by amateur winemaker members of his Bacchus Winemaking Club.
And because fine wines call for fine food, Mountain View’s treasured gourmet cheese purveyor, Milk Pail Market, will bring in a delectable selection of international cheeses. Proprietor Steve Rasmussen will be on hand to offer cheese-pairing suggestions with the wines and answer questions about anything from butterfat content to the aroma of washed rinds.
The Wine Haven tent will be open 12:00–5:00 pm both days, and all of the sampled wines and cheeses will be available for sale (to take home) as well. Attendees can take advantage of outdoor seating to sip, savor, take in the sights and enjoy the romantic Italian string ensemble music of the gifted duo Heartstrings Music.
Tickets to Taste of the Mountains Passport Days will cost $45 and include a commemorative festival wine glass, a sample of all of the wines from all five wineries, a wide selection of cheeses, and a Passport booklet (a $45 value itself) valid for two years of Passport Days to the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Passport Days, a unique wine country experience throughout the idyllic Santa Cruz Mountains appellation, has been hosted by its legendary winemakers since 1993. Passport booklet holders are invited four Saturdays a year to visit 50 wineries offering wine-and-food pairings, entertainment, and events such as art shows, concerts, vineyard and winery tours, and wine education sessions.
“We’re extremely excited to be partnering with the Mountain View Art & Wine Festival this year,” says Metz. “It’s a great opportunity to share our world-class wines with local wine aficionados and introduce them to the tremendous benefits of our Passport Days.”
The Santa Cruz Mountains Appellation is defined by its unique mountain topography, with terroirs reflecting the varying elevations, soils and microclimates from its foggy coastline to its 2,600-foot ridgetops. Granted American Viticultural Area (AVA) status in 1981, the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA area is only approximately 1,500 acres, but comprises over 200 small wineries.
Writing for the Wine Advocate in 2012, Antonio Galloni said “There is no doubt in my mind the Santa Cruz mountains is the greatest and most overlooked terroir in the United States. Period.”
“A visit to the Wine Haven will be the perfect way to begin exploring the region,” says Chamber President Garcia. “It’s experiences like this that have earned the Mountain View Art & Wine Festival the distinction of being voted Best Art & Wine Festival in the South Bay by readers of Metro.”
Tickets to Taste of the Mountains Passport Days will be available at the Wine Haven tent and in advance on-line at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wine-haven-taste-of-the-mountains-passport-days-tickets-12707948817
The Mountain View Art & Wine Festival will be held on September 6-7 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Castro Street between El Camino Real and Evelyn Avenue in Mountain View, California. Admission is free. For festival information, call 650-968-8378 or visit http://mountainview.miramarevents.com
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