Let’s get outside. Fire up those grills. If you don’t have a vegetable garden to pull from, head to the nearest farmer’s market and stock up on all kinds of healthy things to grill — tomatoes, zucchini, corn, broccoli, asparagus, to name a few.
By Lou Campoli
Let’s get outside.
Fire up those grills. If you don’t have a vegetable garden to pull from, head to the nearest farmer’s market and stock up on all kinds of healthy things to grill — tomatoes, zucchini, corn, broccoli, asparagus, to name a few. Go to your local butcher (if you’ve never been to Crisfield’s, you gotta go) or supermarket for hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, pork, lamb, veal, sausages, and chicken. And don’t forget fresh seafood from June & Ho.
Now let’s think about the wines that will complement that wide array of meats, seafood, and vegetables. Wines from France’s Rhône Valley origin are ideal. And the same grapes are grown here in the United States, none better than in the Santa Barbara area, west of Los Angeles. A while ago, we had the opportunity to visit several wineries in that area, three of the best of which are Qupé, Zaca Mesa, and Jaffurs.
Qupé (kyoo-pay’) is the Chumash Indian word for California poppy, which is the state flower. Bob Lindquist began the winery in 1982 and was one of the original founders of the Rhône Rangers, a group of wineries dedicated to the production of Rhône Valley varietals.
Qupé produces a vast array of wines that are all true to the characteristics of the grape variety. The best known of these is the Syrah Central Coast ($18), which is one of the best red wine values in the world. Other Qupé red wines available in the Westchester area include: Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard ($28), Syrah Bien Nacido Hillside Estate ($31), Syrah Sawyer Linquist Vineyard ($33), Syrah Purisima Mountain Vineyard ($34), Syrah Alisos Vineyard ($34), Syrah Nielson Vineyard ($34), Syrah Sawyer Lindquist Bonnie’s Block ($58), Syrah Bien Nacido X Block ($99), Syrah 25th Anniversary ($99), Grenache Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard ($34), and Los Olivos Cuvée Red ($24). Qupé’s white wines include: Marsanne ($19), Roussanne Bien Nacido Hillside Estate ($36), Chardonnay Bien Nacido Y Block ($21), Chardonnay Bien Nacido Reserve Block 11 ($30), and Bien Nacido Cuveé White ($20).
Zaca Mesa is another winery that is well known from coast to coast. Its vineyards were first planted in 1973 and the winery is dedicated to growing Rhône varietals. Zaca Mesa red wines available in our area include Syrah ($24), Syrah Reserve ($45), Syrah Black Bear Block ($60), Z Cuvée ($21), and Z Three ($45). Among the white wines are Roussanne ($27), Viognier ($18), Grenache Blanc ($27), and Chardonnay ($19).
One of the best California wine producers that few people recognize is Jaffurs Wine Cellars. Craig Jaffurs produced his first wines in 1994. While Jaffurs produces many red and white wines, only the following are available in Westchester. The red wines include Syrah Santa Barbara ($27), Syrah Thompson Vineyard ($43), Syrah Verna’s Vineyard ($49), Grenache Santa Barbara ($34), and Petite Sirah Thompson Vineyard ($34). The white wine available is Viognier Santa Barbara ($27). Jaffurs is now making Pinot Noir ($42), but its most incredible wine may be the Mourvèdre ($34); both of these wines are only available to Jaffurs at the winery.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the most heartfelt portion of our visit to Santa Barbara, and that was our visit to the Santa Barbara Zoo. We went to the zoo specifically to see Lucky the Penguin. Lucky was born at the zoo last year with an impaired right leg. Instead of relegating Lucky to a very unhappy life, the zoo worked with Teva, the shoe company, to develop a shoe that would enable him to lead a “normal” life. After several false starts, Teva developed one that worked perfectly. While we were there, we saw Lucky participate in his weekly “video conference” with a grade school in Texas, which is following his progress closely. You can see the Lucky the Penguin story on YouTube. If you are in the Santa Barbara area, go see Lucky.