The summer air is crisp and alive in the Santa Cruz mountains. The Silicon Valley bustles below, brimming with genius and innovation while earthy, surfer-town Santa Cruz has it's chill vibe going on the California coast. We exit off of Highway 17 and climb the winding mountain road up through the redwood forest and through the gates of Byington Winery.
It is a quiet Monday morning in July as we pull up to the 18,000 square foot villa that houses Byington Winery's winemaking facilities, wine cave, tasting room and beautiful event facilities.
I had first heard about Byington Winery a few weeks before when I had the good fortune of being invited to a dinner at Honolulu's Vintage Cave Cafe with Byington Winery owner, Benny Madsen, Wine Educator, Douglas Preisel, and local Hawaii restaurant industry professional, Phillip Shaw.
Doug ordered the wines and once Benny learned that I am a chef, suggested I be in charge of ordering the food. Thankfully, everyone chimed in with their requests from the menu and I was relieved of the pressure. Instead I sat at this table of wine lovers and savored a fantastic meal, beautiful wines and began to learn about Byington Winery.
We swapped restaurant industry battle stories, talked about the wine business, food, travel and the intricacies of the perfect espresso. When I mentioned I happened to be making a quick trip to the Santa Cruz Mountains in July, my new wine friends offered to give me a tour and tasting at the winery.
And so it came to be that I was walking through the giant doors to the tasting room in the late morning hours of this sunny July day to meet up with Vince Robledo, Certified Sommelier and Byington's Director of Sales for a tour of the 95 acre estate.
Vince gathered up a few bottles of wine and led us out to the vineyard.