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Attn: Susan
Media Contact: Susan West
Phone: 805.226.4200
Fax: 805-226-4201


Vino Prima Wine Bar | Print |

A new place to taste comes to the Santa Cruz Wharf

Attention lovers of Vino Cruz, Cava, Soif, and all other wine bars: there's a new wine room in town, and it's a room with a view. It lies above Marini's Candy Shop, on the second floor of the Santa Cruz Wharf. Vino Prima has large plate glass windows at each end of the room, and we were lucky enough to get there just in time to see the sun setting from one set of windows while, at the opposite end of the room, the largest full moon of the year was rising.
Vino Prima is owned by Larry and Debby Jackson and Larry's niece, Stacey Rennert. Stacey, who just moved down from Seattle to join the Jacksons in the venture, is a gracious and knowledgeable asset to the business. To borrowâ€"and badly butcherâ€"a John Muir-era outcry: "Send us a woman to match our wines," and, prestoâ€"it is done. These three lovely folks opened Vino Prima just 11 weeks ago in the spot once occupied by Beauregard Wines (now in the old Bonny Doon Winery on Bonny Doon Road).
Vino Prima does not have a kitchen, but does have an affiliation with the well-established Carniglia's Italian Restaurant downstairs, which served us an outstanding cheeseburger. I was astonished when the burger appeared in an amazingly short time, delivered by a polite, uniformed waiter. It was one of the best burgers I've had in Santa Cruz, so I can say with full assurance that you should not hesitate to order dinner from Carniglia's while you are imbibing at Vino Prima.
This column is normally reserved for Santa Cruz Mountain Wines only, so, at the risk of playing Benedict Arnold, and because our hosts were generous in their variety of pourings, we're going to go outside the boundary this one time and recommend some of their wine list items, which are not made in this appellation. Where Cava and Soif carry wine from all over the world, and Vino Cruz carries only Santa Cruz Mountain Wines, Vino Prima carries exclusively California wines, offering more than 100 California wines, with at least 15 from Santa Cruz. These are sold by the bottle, by the glass, or as a flight.
Vino Prima offers several selections of two-ounce, three-glass-flights, with a starting price of $10 and continuing upwards depending on which flight you select.
Three wines were particularly impressive (not listed in any specific order):
From Gilroy: Mann Cellars 2004 Merlot, a merlot to make a believer out of you. This wine was hearty and loaded with blackberries and cocoa.
From Aptos: Salamandre 2004 Pinot Noir, 24 months on new French Oak, redolent of pomegranate and vanillaâ€"very big, impressive pinot noir. Not Burgundian, not Californian, but its own breed.

From Paso Robles: Jada 2005 Jersey Girl Syrah. Jada is a young winery that, I hope, can cope with the demand they will have on them. This wine was pressed from grapes "at the top of the hill" (where the pope's wine was grown in Burgundy). I had to look at the label to make sure there was no Marini's chocolate in the bottle. This is one of the most bodacious and memorable California wines I've ever tasted. Hail to Jada for this incredible 100 percent Rhone style syrah. We sorely needed a wine room with a view. I whole heartedly welcome Vino Prima to Santa Cruz and wish them every success. For more information and event information, call 426-0750.


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