By Joe Hilbers
The Monterey Peninsula has long been associated with the game of golf thanks to a plentiful supply of famous courses. Many national tournaments are staged here and so it was, once again, during our recent visit to the four star Hyatt Regency Hotel. This time the tournament was for boys and girls under the age of seventeen and some 300 contestants from all parts of the nation were staying at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and Spa.
My room was just a few steps from a fairway much like those that had brought me both joy and dispair over several decades.
However we were not there for that game invented long ago in Scotland by some unbalanced noblemen.
Rather we were there to attend a winemaker dinner where Executive Chef Logan Sandoval prepared an exciting menu to match Twisted Roots wines. This took place in the Hotel's chic TusCA Ristorante. The menu included Pumpkin Soup, followed with seared lamb lollipops and roasted fresh scallops with baby carrots and parsnip puree. Dessert was traditional apple cvobbler with vanilla ice cream.
Owners Josh and Julie Ruiz were there to tell us about the Twisted Roots wines. Josh explained that he is a farmer who developed a love for wines and so, ten years ago, started making wines from vineyards located on family land in Lodi, including old Zinfandel vines dating back to 1918.
Josh said the success of the wines comes from using older 'neutral' French oak barrels both for fermentation and aging. This allows the grapes to show more of their natural flavors. The first wine, from Lodi family vineyards was made in 2005, a Petite Sarah. Previously the family vineyards were selling grapes to other winemakers.
The success of the 2005 vintage was so remarkable that Josh has expanded to several other varietals as well. However he claims that his first love is still the Petite Syrah.
This evening Josh started us with his new sparkling wine made with chardonnay, followed by 2013 Twisted Roots Petite Syrah, then a remarkable 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon.
We were so impressed with Josh's wines that the next day we visited his tasting room located in the Village at Camel Valley. This is an outstanding facility which besides the tasting room includes a store devoted to the arts with paintings, vases, and much other material representing craftsmanship in California. Also included is an outdoor patio perfect for picnics and special events. While there we had to taste Josh's 2013 Old Vine Zinfandel from a Lodi vineyard where the vines will be one hundred years old next year. The wine was memorable.
At the dinner we also met Jake Reisdorf who is owner operator of the Carmel Honey Company, Jake became interested in the harvesting of bees as a school project and was so enthralled that, while still in school, has established his company which includes a smart retail store located in the Carmel Plaza.
We promised to visit the store the next day and while there tasted some of the honey produced from bees in Oregon hives. The four we tasted included Meadowform, our favorite, as well as Wildflower, Orange Blossom and Sage. It was remarkable on how different each was in flavor.
These tastings which include an explanation on how honey is made are available to those visiting the store. For prices of these tasting experiences call 831 687-8511 for a reservation, on the web at wwwcarmelhoney.com. The Carmel Honey Company store is located at Carmel Plaza, Suite 118, Ocean avenue & Mission Street, Carmel, Ca.
During our weekend stay at Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel our time at the Monterey Aquarium proved to be a special delight. We alternated between looking at exhibits like the three story living Kelp Forest to wandering on the open decks that front on the waters of Monterey Bay. It was an overcast day and the whole expanse of the Bay from Monterey to Santa Cruz offered a marvelous view with the added drama of darkening clouds.
The exhibit of 'Jellies: Living Art' is a place to watch with fascination the grace of these creatures. This exhibit has become so popular that the Aquarium extended it. Viewing these most unusual life forms is a special treat.
The Aquarium is a great place for children with the walk through wave crash and hands on exhibits in the family activity room. There is also the Ocean's Edge galleries that not only feature the ocean life of Monterey Bay but also the human connection and the need to preserve this unique world for future generations. Here on view are varieties of sharks, rays and schooling fishes including the famed Monterey sardine which for a time made Monterey the nation's top fishing port. Then overfishing changed Cannery Row into the tourist attraction it is today.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is world famous and is acclaimed as the best in the U.S. Since opening in 1984 millions of visitors have enjoyed its exhibitions and educational message. It is located on famed Cannery Row in Monterey, California's most historic city. And indeed the original building for the Aquarium was once a cannery.
The Aquarium is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and in summer and major holiday periods from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on Christmas Day. For more information call 831 648-4888 or on online at www.montereybayaquarium.org. The Aquarium website is full of interesting information, not only on the events being held but also on the studies and research that is continually being done.
We returned to the Hyatt Regency for lunch to try its oven toasted pizza in the lounge bar area overlooking the golf course which was busy indeed with many golfers who were much smaller in statue since they were all contestants in the children's tournament. After lunch we drove to Pacific Beach to visit the American Tin Cannery in Pacific Grove which proved to be filled with retail outlets and artists galleries. We were there to visit a famed artist named Paul Seftel but unfortunately missed connections.
However the view of beach, ocean and mix of sun and cloud that day made the drive along Pacific Grove's Oceanview Drive well worth our time. The Hyatt Regency in Monterey is adjacent to the Del Monte 18 hole golf course and many of the 500 rooms overlook the course. The lounge, dining room, and patio are all situated to overlook the course as well.. Adjacent is the highly popular Knuckles Sports Bar.
The Hyatt Regency Monterey is located at 1 Old Golf Course Road, Monterey, Ca. 93940, Telephone 831 372-1234, web www.hyattregencymonterey.com.
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