Spirits

Cran-Ber-Rita, Anheuser-Busch, RITAS, 360 MAGAZINE

CRAN-BER-RITA IS BACK

After a Three Year Hiatus, RITAS is Putting its #1 Most Requested Flavor on Social Media Back on Shelf 

The fans requested, and RITAS answered. That’s right: Cran-Ber-Rita has returned, just in time to liven up any and all upcoming fall and winter plans.

Pumpkin spice and apple cider are great and everything, but those flavors can’t party quite like Cran-Ber-Rita. Indulge with a can of cran and witness your basic fall plans become anything but boring. Apple picking, visits to the pumpkin patch, even turkey dinner can be paired with limited edition Cran-Ber-Rita for a cornucopia of flavor. Go grab some cran and #NeverApologize for adding flair to your Thanksgiving table.

“It’s time that Cran-Ber-Rita has a proper comeback under our new RITAS brand,” said Chelsea Phillips, Vice President of Beyond Beer Brands at Anheuser-Busch. “We know our fans have been waiting for this moment and there’s no better way to be unapologetically you this season than with a can of cran!”

Packed with a sweet and tart flavor, the 8 FL OZ. can has an ABV of 8% and is also available in the12oz bottle variety pack and 25oz cans. Cran-Ber-Rita is available in select retailers nationwide for a limited-time only. You’ll want to grab one quick before they’re gone.

For more information on Cran-Ber-Rita, visit www.theritas.com or follow the conversation on social @TheRITAS.

ABOUT RITAS

As part of the continued innovation from world-class brewmasters from the legacy of America’s most-popular beers, Anheuser-Busch launched RITAS, originally marketed as Bud Light Lime Lime-A-Rita, in 2012. RITAS is the first brand in the Anheuser-Busch InBev portfolio to champion women and in 2019 launched their #NeverApologize campaign to champion women for loving who they are and loving what they drink.

For more information on RITAS, visit www.theritas.com, and join the squad by following RITAS on Facebook, @TheRITAS on Twitter, @RITAS on Instagram and #HAVEARITA.

ABOUT ANHEUSER-BUSCH

For more than 165 years, Anheuser-Busch has been woven into the cultural fabric of the United States, carrying on a legacy of brewing great-tasting, high-quality beers that have satisfied beer drinkers for generations. Today, we own and operate 23 breweries, 14 distributorships and 23 agricultural and packaging facilities, and have more than 18,000 colleagues across the United States. We are home to several of America’s most recognizable beer brands, including Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob ULTRA and Stella Artois, as well as a number of regional brands that provide beer drinkers with a choice of the best-tasting craft beers in the industry.

From responsible drinking programs and emergency drinking water donations to industry-leading sustainability efforts, we are guided by our unwavering commitment to supporting the communities we call home.

For more information, visit www.anheuser-busch.com or follow Anheuser-Busch on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram

Vaughn Lowery, 360 MAGAZINE, spirits, mixology, bartender

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation 13th Annual Most Imaginative Bartender Semifinalists Presented by BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® Gin

Top 36 Bartenders Stir Creativity Vie for $25,000 Creative Grant and Mentorship by Creative Visionary 

Hamilton, Bermuda (September 3, 2019) – Tales of the Cocktail Foundation announces today the semifinalists of the 13th Annual Most Imaginative Bartender Competition (MIB Competition) presented by BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® Gin. The esteemed cocktail MIB Competition, which seeks out mixologists at the forefront of the industry and provides them with a platform to let their imagination and creativity shine, will kick off the regional stage this September through three (3) competitions held in Nashville (Central), Philadelphia (East), and Portland (West). The 36 semifinalists from across North America will vie for a spot in the top 12 and advance to the finals in February 2020.  The MIB Competition will be held in Chicago, the hometown of the 2018 Most Imaginative Bartender, Carley Gaskin. Driven by the belief that everyone is born creative, BOMBAY SAPPHIRE is introducing the Canvas Challenge to this year’s program. The new challenge will task the top 12 finalists to discover their artistic potential and showcase their creativity for a chance to win a $25,000 grant prize and a mentorship by a creative visionary.

According to BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Gin Brand Director Tom Spaven, the new challenge is a way to encourage bartenders to take their creativity to the next level as he notes: “Each year, the Most Imaginative Bartender competition brings together a group of boundary-pushing bartenders who use BOMBAY SAPPHIRE as the ultimate tool to stir creativity in a glass. Through the incredible work of past participants, we realize the program is not just a competition, but a forum for expression across many different creative mediums. I’m excited to see how this year’s semifinalists will bring the industry to new heights and explore their passions outside of mixology”.

Throughout September, the semifinalists will participate in an invigorating two-day program, aimed to encourage bartenders to stir creativity outside of the traditional lines of the industry. On the first day, all semifinalists will present their masterpiece in a glass to a panel of judges. Following the MIB Competition portion, the program is introducing a new aspect in an effort to encourage self-expression, in which the semifinalists will participate in an educational activity geared towards exploring new creative mediums. Upon completion, the regional winners will head to England in October for an immersive gin discovery tour at the home of the brand’s BREEAM award-winning distillery, Laverstoke Mill. During the week-long tour all finalists will participate in educational programming that will help prepare them for the finale in February 2020.  In addition to the prizes awarded to the final winner, all 12 finalists will collaborate with PUNCH Media for a special cocktail book to debut in 2020.

The 2018 champion Carley Gaskin shared a few words of inspiration for the semifinalists, stating: “The Most Imaginative Bartender Competition encouraged me to explore new forms of self-expression through mixology, while introducing me to a wealth of invaluable resources within the industry. I couldn’t be more excited for this year’s semifinalists to embark on this incredible journey and wish them the best of luck”. 

For more information please visit www.mostimaginativebartender.com. 

Top 36  Semi-Finalists:


EAST

Edward Hansel – New York

Mark Tubridy – New York

Arianna Shaljian – New York

Solomon Thomas – Philadelphia

Valentino Longo – Miami

Derek Stilmann – Miami

Peter Hannah – Orlando

Cody Henson – Savannah

Niall McCourt – St. Pete

Keyatta Mincey-Parker – Atlanta

Sam Treadway – Massachusetts

Michael Rizk – Quebec 


CENTRAL

Maggie Morgan – New Orleans

Terance Robson – Austin 

Nikolas Zoylinos – Austin

Alexis Mijares – Austin

Christa Havican – Houston

Marlowe Johnson – Michigan

Tripper Duval – Wisconsin

David Yee – Columbus

Marta Ess – Ontario

Holly Caverly – Ontario

Jayare Wuo – Chicago


WEST

Cameron Holck – Portland

Estanislado Orona – Portland

Lydia McLuen – Portland

Jamie Socci – Portland

Emilio Salehi – San Francisco

Christian Suzuki – San Francisco

Derrick Li – San Francisco

Shaun Dunn – Los Angeles

Alex Jump – Denver

TJ Vong – Denver

Andrew Woodley – Hawaii

Danielle Pingert – Saskatchewen


# # #


ABOUT BOMBAY SAPPHIRE 
BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® is the world’s number one premium gin by volume and value.  BOMBAY SAPPHIRE is created with a unique combination of ten sustainably sourced botanicals from around the globe. The brand’s signature distillation process known as vapour infusion is showcased at the BREEAM award-winning Laverstoke Mill Distillery in Hampshire, England. The vapour infusion process skillfully captures the natural flavors of the botanicals which results in the gin’s fresh, bright taste. BOMBAY SAPPHIRE, which was awarded a gold medal in the 2018 Las Vegas Global Spirit Awards and a double gold medal in the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, is recognized for crafting the finest quality gin. For more information, please explore www.bombaysapphire.com
.

The BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® brand is part of the portfolio of Bacardi Limited, headquartered in Hamilton, Bermuda. Bacardi Limited refers to the Bacardi group of companies, including Bacardi International Limited.


For more information please visit
www.mostimaginativebartender.com

Natural Light Seltzer, Anheuser-Busch, Nascar, 360 MAGAZINE

Natural Light Seltzer

Where fun is needed, Natural Light goes, and crashing the seltzer party is our next destination. Natty is ready to rock the seltzer world with thelaunch of Natural Light Seltzer, a new flavor-forward, 6% ABV beverage that is available in two irresistible blends of fruit flavors. Aloha Beaches combines mango and peach for a tropical feel, and Catalina Lime Mixer features black cherry and lime. This is the seltzer younever saw coming!

Natural Light Seltzer is rolling into stores nationwide in 12 packs, 24 packs, and a 25 oz. single serve can with packaging that will get you into full-on “beach mode” all year round. 

“The seltzer category is booming. It’s part of a larger shift in consumption across America and we believe it has tremendous staying power,” said Ricardo Marques, Vice President of Core and Value Brands at Anheuser-Busch. “We know plenty of Natty Light drinkers are also trying seltzer, so we want to meet that demand by bringing the fun of Natty into that space with an affordable price offering that fits their lifestyle.”

Hot off the heels of Naturdays, the number one beer innovation of 2019, Anheuser-Busch is continuing to anticipate consumer trends with a new take on what a hard seltzer can be.

Now that Natty has crashed the seltzer party, we want to crash your party too!  Tell us on social why your party needs more flavor and we may just deliver cases of Natural Light Seltzer right to your doorstep. Use the hashtags #NattySeltzer and #Sweepstakes on Twitter for a chance to win. 100 winners will win 10 cases* of Natural Light Seltzer to bring some fun to their fall parties. 

Whether you’re one of the lucky winners or buying Natty for your party, don’t forget to Enjoy Responsibly – hydrate between Natty’s and plan ahead for a safe ride.  To learn more, follow @naturallight on Twitter and Facebook, @naturallightbeer onInstagram, and visit www.NaturalLight.com.

Natty Seltzer Party Crash

No Purchase Necessary.  Open to US residents 21+.  Begins 8/13/19 & ends 9/8/19 (“Sweepstakes Period”).  To enter, tweet the hashtags #NattySeltzer & #Sweepstakes during the Sweepstakes Period.  See Official Rules at www.naturallight.com/nattyseltzersweeps.html for prizes & details.  Msg & data rates may apply.  Void where prohibited.  *Cash equivalent in certain states.

______________________________________________

About Natural Light

Natural Light was introduced in 1977 as Anheuser-Busch’s first reduced-calorie light beer. Currently the sixth best-selling beer in America, Natural Light is brewed with a blend of premium hops and a combination of malt and corn producing a clean flavor, light body and satisfying refreshment.

About Anheuser-Busch

For more than 165 years, Anheuser-Busch has carried on a legacy of brewing great-tasting, high-quality beers that have satisfied beer drinkers for generations. Today, we own and operate 12 flagship breweries, 12 craft partners, 14 distributorships and 23 agricultural and packaging facilities, and have more than 18,000 employees across the United States. We are home to several of America’s most recognizable beer brands, including Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob ULTRA and Stella Artois, as well as a number of regional brands that provide beer drinkers with a choice of the best-tasting craft beers in the industry. 

From responsible drinking programs and emergency drinking water donations to industry-leading sustainability efforts, we are guided by our unwavering commitment to supporting the communities we call home.

For more information, visit www.anheuser-busch.com or follow Anheuser-Busch on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.  

Related Links

www.naturallight.com

National Coffee Day Cocktails

Easy Espresso Martini

Ingredients:

-50ml Ciroc Vodka

-30ml Single Origin Espresso

-20ml Coffee Liquer

-Pinch of salt

-5ml Simple Syrup

Instructions:

-Add spirits, salt, and coffee flavors in a shaker

-Shake briskly and strain into a cocktail glass

-Garnish with three coffee beans

 

Cardamom and Vanilla Coffee Cocktail

Ingredients:

-2 ounces cardamom coffee concentrate

-1 once Ciroc vodka

-3/4 ounce triple sec

-1/2 ounce vanilla simple syrup

-1 ounce heavy cream

-Ice

Instructions:

-Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker

-Shake well for about 15 seconds

-Pour into a glass and serve

 

Perk Up

Ingredients:

-3 ounces of Ciroc Vodka

-1/2 tablespoon coffee grounds

-1 ounce coconut milk

-3/4 ounce maple syrup

Instructions:

-Pour coffee grounds into a bottle of vodka and let sit for three

minutes

-Strain vodka into a cocktail shaker filled with ice

-Add remaining ingredients and shake vigorously

-Strain into a martini glass and garnish with three coffee beans

Spook-tacular Malibu Rum cocktails for Fall & Halloween!

MALIBU PUMPKIN COLADA

Ingredients:

·        50 ml Malibu Original

·        75 ml Pineapple juice

·        50 ml Coconut cream

·        10 ml Fresh lime juice

·        10 ml Pumpkin puree or juice

Method:

·        Fill a shaker with ice cubes.

·        Add Malibu, coconut cream, lime juice, pumpkin puree/juice, and pineapple juice.

·        Shake and strain into a chilled glass (pumpkin cup) filled with ice cubes.

 

FRIGHT WHITE

Ingredients:

·        1 part Malibu original

·        1 part coconut cream

·        1 ½ parts apple juice

Method:

·        Shake over ice and serve in a martini glass.

·        Garnish with white cotton candy on top.

 

THE MALI-BOO

Ingredients:

·        1 part Malibu Original

·        2 parts Lemonade

·        Splash of Grenadine

·        Edible Glitter

Method:

·        Dip the rim of the glass into edible glitter (optional).

·        Pour Malibu and lemonade into a glass filled with ice cubes.

·        Top with a splash of Grenadine.

 

THE BERRY SCARY SPRITZ

Ingredients:

·        50 ml Malibu Original

·        50 ml Soda water

·        200 ml Prosecco/sparkling wine

·        10 ml Blueberry juice

Method:

·        Pour all ingredients into an ice filled wine glass.

·        Top off with fresh blueberries.

 

VAMPIRE KISS

Ingredients:

·        1 shot Malibu Original

·        Dash of Grenadine

·        Squeeze of Fresh lime juice

·        Raspberry puree

Method:

·        Dip the edge of a shot glass in raspberry puree, add Malibu, grenadine and lime juice.

 

RED SHOT

Ingredients:

·        1 shot of Malibu Original

·        2 dashes of Tabasco

·        Edible glitter

Method:

·        Dip the rim of the glass into edible glitter (optional).

·        Fill a shot glass with 50ml Malibu then add 2 dashes of tabasco.

Seasonal Cocktails For Fall

VS FRENCH 75

Ingredients

1.5 oz CÎROC VS French Brandy

0.5 oz lemon juice

0.5 oz simple syrup

Champagne of your choice

Method

1. Add 1.5 oz CÎROC VS French Brandy, 0.5 oz lemon juice, & 0.5 oz simple syrup in a shaker

2. Add ice & shake well until everything is chilled

3. Strain into a flute glass and garnish with lemon twist

4. Top with champagne

CÎROC CRISP

INGREDIENTS

1.5 OZ CÎROC Apple

4 Strawberries

1 Splash of Ginger Beer

METHOD

1. Muddle strawberries in a shaker

2. Add CÎROC Apple to the shaker and shake well

3. Top with splashes of Ginger Beer

4. Garnish with a sprig of Rosemary and a strawberry slice

SPICY SERENADE

INGREDIENTS

1 ½ oz DeLeón Platinum Tequila

½ oz fresh lime juice

¾ oz fresh blood orange juice

¾ oz cinnamon syrup

METHOD

1. Add all ingredients into a martini shaker with ice

2. Shake thoroughly

3. Strain into rocks glass

4. Garnish with a blood orange slice

Fresh Craft Cocktails

Pink Sangre

Rose infused citrus spritz with mango chunks and crushed wild berries and sweetened with passionfruit puree and agave. Shaken and strained, and garnished with a lemon wheel.

The Heirloom Pear

Green pears and marinate in white wine. Add mint, 2oz green apple puree. Shake over ice, strain, topped with prosecco. Pour in kedem Chablis and garnished fresh pear heart.

Refreshing craft cocktails from new Upper West Side hot spot Arba. With a Mediterranean-focused menu and variety of kosher and gluten free offerings, Abra fashions seven signature cocktails with flavors of apricot, fig, lavender and pomegranate each with different vitamins and various health benefits.

Drake’s Spiked Ice™ at Costco

Drake’s Organic Spirits announced today that its innovative Drake’s Organic Spiked Ice™freeze-and-eat adult treats are now available at Phoenix, San Diego and Denver-area Costco locations.  The handheld ice pops feature 15% ABV and only 80 calories each.  Spiked Ice comes in four flavors – Mango Rum Punch, Vodka Lemonade, Watermelon Martini and Classic Mojito – and are made with Drake’s award-winning all-organic ultra-premium vodka and white rum.

“Costco is one of the most beloved and respected retailers in the world which is why we couldn’t be prouder to have Drake’s Organic Spiked Ice on their shelves,” said Drake’s Founder and CEO Mark Anderson.  “Costco understands the growing consumer demand for products made sustainably and without the addition of artificial colors and flavors.  We know their devoted shoppers will love Drake’s Organic Spiked Ice.”

Drake’s Organic Spirits is the first and only spirit line in the world to be certified USDA organic, non-GMO Project Verified, gluten free, vegan and kosher.  The five certifications ensure a cleaner drinking option that comes only from the highest quality organic ingredients.   Drake’s continues to be among the most environmentally conscious brands in the spirits industry and deeply committed to using ingredients and processes that lead to a more sustainable planet.

Besides Phoenix, San Diego and Denver-area Costco locations, Drake’s Organic Spiked Ice will be available at additional Costco stores soon.

Proceeds from the sale of all Drake’s Organic Spirits products help fund Long Lake Animal Rescue, an animal rescue foundation that takes in animals in urgent need of a second chance at life.

A Guide to Eating & Drinking in the Loire Valley

The Loire Valley is known for its incredible food and wine, as the home of Sancerre and Chinon, as well as some of France’s best goat cheese and other local delicacies. 2019 is the ideal time to taste the specialties of the region, when more than 500 events are taking place in honor of the 500th anniversary of the French Renaissance, some of which transport guests back to the Renaissance period. Below is a sampling of some of the best food and wine experiences for travelers to sample this year:
RENAISSANCE-PERIOD TASTINGS

A Taste of the Renaissance (“Goût de Renaissance”)
Inspired by the anniversary this year, 42 different restaurants throughout the Loire Valley are offering special menus and dishes inspired by the Renaissance in order to transport guests back to da Vinci’s time. Dishes include fried eggs with rosemary, lemon chicken fricassee, and poached pears in a red wine sauce. The Loire Valley region, in partnership with the European Institute of History and Food Cultures (IEHCA of Tours), has also published a book of 25 recipes and dishes from the period to help travelers understand French cuisine during the Renaissance. Find more information here.

Recipes from Catherine de Medici at Chateau de Chenonceau
Christophe Canati, the chef from Chateau de Chenonceau’s L’Orangerie restaurant, has created a number of dishes inspired by the French Renaissance period, some of which were inspired by Catherine de Medici, who resided in the chateau. Visitors will also have an opportunity to share their own ideas for recipes inspired by their visit to the chateau. Dishes include artichoke beignets, crispy sweetbreads, carp stuffed with bacon, and a lemon and violet tart. The book of recipes can be purchased here. Visitors to Chenonceau can also visit Catherine de Medici’s recreated apothecary in honor of the anniversary.

Renaissance Reenactments on the Ile d’Or
On September 28 and 29, the Ile d’Or (an island in the Loire River) in Amboise will be transported back to the Renaissance, bringing together 500 volunteers who will reenact history, acting as medieval warriors in infantry units or soldiers bivouacking on the island. Visitors will be able to get a glimpse of daily life during the Renaissance period, while also experiencing a local crafts and gourmet food market. Find more information here.

Gifts from the Renaissance
As part of the Loire Valley’s celebrations, a number of special local gifts inspired by the time period are being produced around the region, including a collection of “historical perfumes” from Nicolas de Barry, who has recreated a line of perfumes and cosmetics used during the Renaissance period. His creations include pomanders, jewelry such as necklaces, bracelets and belts, which are scented with perfume. Another gift from the past is a signature bottle of wine created by the Chateau du Clos-Lucé, produced using the grape varieties of Chenin and Côt, which date back to the time of Leonardo da Vinci.

EXPERIENCING THE LOCAL WINE REGIONS

Sancerre
Travelers can try the Loire Valley’s famous Sancerre wine at Maison des Sancerre, an ideal spot to sample top local wines of the region. Travelers can also stop by a local farm to pair the wine with Chavignol, one of the five goat cheese appellations from the region.

Valençay
Valençay is the name for both a goat cheese (which is lightly salted and coated in ash) and wine from the region. Travelers in the area can also stop by the Chateau De Valençay, which is hosting a series of evening candle-lit jazz concerts throughout August.

Between Touraine and Orléans
Top wine produced in this area includes Chinon, Vouvray, Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil, Bourgueil, Montlouis-sur-Loire, Cheverny, Cour-Cheverny, Valençay, Orléans, Orléans-Cléry and Coteaux du Giennois. Unique experiences for travelers include a Wine Escape Game at Domain PB Couly, relaxation workshops held right in the vineyards of Ame Wine in Touraine, and a multimedia art exhibit held in the historic wine cellars Caves Monmousseau, creating incredible projections onto the cave from pictorial stained glass techniques that retrace the history and origins of the cellar.

Cheverny and Cour-Cheverny
Located in Cour-Cheverny, The Domaine des Huards has been making wine since 1846, and today only produces organic and biodynamic wine. The winemakers produce wine made from 100% Romorantin grapes, which is a grape that dates back to the Renaissance period. Travelers to this area can also sample local wines at the Maison de Vins de Chevernylocated by the entrance to the Chateau du Cheverny, and at the Maison de Vins de Chambord, located on the Chambord Estate.

RENAISSANCE EVENTS

“Message in a Bottle” Exhibit in Bourges (until November 24)
As 2019 is also the International Year of the World’s Indigenous People, the Bourges Natural History Museum invites visitors to question our impact on climate change by comparing the climate of the 16th century (early Ice Age) with the 22nd century. Find more information here.

Fluxshow2019: An Italian Year at the Fondation du Doute (until November 2019)
This exhibition of “spectacular artistic machines” by Nam June Paik and Wolf Vostell offers a comparative presentation of works by French and Italian artists, including the creation of a wheeled machine from one ton of waste technology products.

A Contemporary Homage to Leonardo da Vinci (until November 3, 2019)
This exhibit will present the many facets of Leonardo da Vinci’s work as seen through thirty well-known contemporary artists. They will focus on his self-portraits, portraits of women, extraordinary machines, drapery, anatomy, historical painting, codices and scenery. Chateau du Rivau is a medieval castle owned by a French family, who transformed the massive grounds into fairytale-inspired gardens, with incredible grand artworks displayed throughout; in September 2018, they unveiled seven guest rooms in the castle’s former stables.

Travel California Wine Country’s Back Roads This Summer

California’s northern Central Coast, extending from the San Francisco Bay to Monterey County, is the focus this month as part of Wine Institute’s Wine Country Back Roads series. California is home to dozens of distinct wine regions, including some of the world’s most famous destinations. But hidden among even the high-profile appellations are the wine roads less traveled. These welcoming regions feature stunning rural scenery, delicious wines and, often, fewer visitors. There’s still plenty of time this summer to discover off-the-beaten path wine roads and regions, and the Central Coast is a great place to do it.

The entire Central Coast wine region and Santa Cruz Mountains stretches roughly 250 miles along the California coastline, extending from San Francisco County to Santa Barbara County. Grapes there are among the oldest in the state, planted by Franciscan monks in the late 18th century as they made their way north on El Camino Real (known today as Highway 101). Now hosting thousands of acres of vineyards and hundreds of wineries, California’s Central Coast and Santa Cruz Mountains are home to 14 percent of the state’s winegrapes.

TASTE: Not far from San Francisco, with its famously steep hills and Victorian architecture, you’ll find several hospitable wineries near the East Bay cities of Moraga, Oakland, Berkeley as well as Treasure Island to help you kick off your Central Coast adventure.

Nearby Livermore Valley, 35 miles east of San Francisco, is the one of the state’s oldest wine regions and the genetic source of 80 percent of California’s Chardonnay vines. Along with its iconic Chardonnay, Livermore is known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as Italian, Rhone and Spanish varieties. Discover the region’s rolling hills and scenic canyons along the Burgundy Wine Trail, or enjoy mountain vistas on the Red Trail.

The Santa Clara Valley, also known today as Silicon Valley, includes more than 30 wineries, many clustered near Gilroy and San Martin. The Santa Cruz Mountains, west of Santa Clara Valley, was among the first American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) to be defined by its steep mountain topography. The area played a pivotal role in California’s winemaking history with viticultural roots going back more than a century. Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot predominate on the warmer eastern inland side of the AVA, while Pinot Noir thrives on the coastal side and ridge tops. The region boasts more than 60 wineries. For a scenic overview, try the Silicon Valley Wine Trail in the hillsides above Silicon Valley, or the coastal Corralitos Wine Trail, at the sunny, southern portion of the AVA.

San Benito County, set in an idyllic valley about 75 miles southeast of Santa Cruz, has been growing winegrapes since the mid-1800s, planted by French and German immigrants. The region grows a wide variety of grapes but is best known for Pinot Noir and Syrah. Find wineries near the towns of Hollister and San Juan Bautista.

Heading back to the coast, Monterey County is known or having one of California’s longest growing seasons, thanks to cool marine air that blows in from Monterey Bay. Franciscan friars introduced winegrapes to the area more than 200 years ago, and over 40 varieties are planted there today—including more Chardonnay than in any other county in America. Monterey is also well known for its cool-climate Pinot Noir. With eight distinctive AVAs within its borders and 82 wineries, Monterey offers an array of tasting opportunities. The River Road Wine Trail, set among the canyons and slopes of the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, highlights Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, along with northern Rhône varieties such as Syrah. Beautiful Carmel Valley is renowned for producing rich, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

TOUR: The Santa Cruz Mountains Wine Passport event on July 20 includes special tastings at more than 40 participating wineries. (As a bonus, passport experiences can be redeemed for a full year after the event.) The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk amusement park is nearby with its multiple attractions. Livermore Valley hosts Taste Our Terroir July 25-28, a four-day food and wine affair offering wine tasting adventures, garden tours, food pairing events, seminars, falcon demonstrations and more. Music in the vineyards is a Santa Clara specialty, with performances scheduled at individual wineries throughout the summer. While visiting San Benito County, take a hike among towering rock spires and observe falcons and golden eagles in flight at Pinnacles National Monument, formed by ancient volcanos. On Monterey’s Cannery Row, sample local wines at A Taste of Monterey and visit the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium or John Steinbeck Museum.

For more information on lodging, dining and upcoming events, see San Francisco Travel, Livermore Valley Wine Country, Wineries of Santa Clara Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association, Discover San Benito County and Monterey Wine Country.
For all of the wine regions included in this series, use the discovercaliforniawines.com interactive map to search wineries by amenities such as tours, gardens and picnic areas, and view winery events around the state.

To see Wine Institute’s Back Roads guides to other California wine regions, visit https://discovercaliforniawines.com/media-trade/news.