Sunday, January 6, 2013

Hunter Hill

This past summer, we headed over the hill on a beautiful Saturday to hit a couple of wineries that we'd never been to. The traffic was unusually light, making for a pleasant ride. Both wineries were on Glenn Haven Road in Soquel. We past Bargetto on the way, winding this way and that. It's a bit out of the way in AT&T No Service land.

We arrived at Hunter Hill shortly after opening, around 11:15. There were already cars in the lot, a group at the tasting bar, and another enjoying the outdoor area. I was a little surprised we weren't the first, but I took it as a good sign.

The tasting room was spacious and had character. One wall had a big buffalo head, taken by the winemaker Vann Slater. The Slater family winery came complete with pictures of the grandparents. The tasting bar was a tad small, with room for 3 smaller groups of tasters, but wasn't a problem given the size of the room and the access to the spacious outdoor area.

Lana served us and answered all our questions with a smile. The vineyard was once an apple orchard, but converted to grapes in 92. They now grow Pinot, Syrah, Merlot, and Zinfandel, sourcing Barbera, Sangiovese, among other varietals from other California regions. They are known for their Pinot, which I thought was pretty good. They also had a special Pinot: Warrior Pinot; all the proceeds from this $50 bottle go to a worthy cause: Widows and children of deceased Navy Seals; Van used to be a Seal. What a great way to give back! The wine was very nice.

Talk at the tasting bar was abundant and interesting due to the friendly wine tasters we found there. I would never have guessed there were mosh pits at Hank Williams III concerts, though apparently he has a metal band in addition to his country gig. While I had heard of people eating buffalo, I'd never heard of beefalo, a bison, cattle mix. One of the other patrons was ready to kill his pygmy goat which he claimed got rambunctious and buck the backs of the legs. Christine Slater, one of the owners, offered to take it off his hands, sighting how useful they were in a vineyard. I found all of this very interesting.

The outdoor area was gorgeous, very spacious, and surrounded by the vineyard. There were plenty of places to set and enjoy the wine and surroundings, including a cute koi pond and a waterfall. In and around were lucious flowers, including a number of sunflowers. It was very peaceful, a great place to enjoy as we tasted the wine.

The Waterfall Hides Behind the Flowers
We picked up a couple of bottles to sample later and headed up the road to Soquel. Unfortunately, the $5 tasting fee was not refundable, a practice I've never understood.

Sue Grips our Haul as We Head Out