Wines and Vineyards

Post image for Madera wins Wine Spectator Award under the stewardship of Paul Mekis

“The cellar has grown a bit,” Madera restaurant director of wine Paul Mekis told us when we caught up with him recently after first profiling him in 2014. The reason for our return visit: Madera, located in the Rosewood Sand Hill hotel in Menlo Park, received the Grand Award from Wine Spectator this year, one of just seven to win that accolade.

A 30-year veteran of the wine industry, Paul joined Madera when it opened in 2008 and has built a wine program that includes 2,500 selections along with 17,645 bottles in the cellar. “This is the award you watch,” he said. “It means a lot to me to receive such a distinction.”

Paul reflected a bit on his time at Madera: “When you first start a cellar, it’s hard just to get allocations. But over the years, I’ve added more depth, older wines and more verticals. We now offer 55 wines by the glass.”

Paul acknowledged the business clientele that dines at Madera drives the high end/high cost bottles, although the scene slows down on the weekend with locals coming in, sometime, ironically bringing a bottle of wine from home. [The corkage fee at Madera is $50.]

While the Madera cellar boasts wines from around the world, Paul has some local favorites. “For Cabernets, it’s right here in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Wines from Ridge and others have great Bordeaux style flavors.

“For Pinot Noir, I like the lower acidic wines from Sonoma and the Santa Rita Hills. And for Chardonnay, again Santa Rita along with Santa Maria.”

Paul wanted to make sure we mentioned Madera’s Michelin Star. “A lot of times a new hotel is overlooked. But we’ve been serious about what we do from the start,” he said.

One thing that hasn’t changed about the cellar is where the red wines are kept: They’re still stored in brown cardboard boxes, all the better, said Paul, to “hold the wine more snugly and provide more stability if there’s an earthquake.”

Photo by Irene Searles (c) 2014

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Good wine, good food, good vibe at Taste of Woodside

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The Rotary Club of Woodside Portola Valley hosted Taste of Woodside last Sunday evening with proceeds benefiting the Club’s many school, community and international projects. Held on the grounds of the Woodside Village Church, the event featured wine tasting, music by the Peninsula Scottish Fiddlers (below) and a dinner catered by Chantal. The neighborhood kids proved […]

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Spotted: Legendary jazz pianist Larry Vuckovich at Portola Vineyards

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One of the gifts that Portola Vineyards vintner Len Lehmann gives back to the community each year is a summer series of jazz concerts. There are still tickets available for the last one featuring Charged Particles on August 19. Sunday night featured legendary jazz pianist Larry Vuckovich, who peppered the two sets with memories of the […]

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5th Annual Taste of the Mountains Wine Walk set for June 2

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Santa Cruz wine will be flowing at the 5th Annual Taste of the Mountains Wine Walk on Saturday, June 2 in downtown Menlo Park from 2:00 to 5:30 pm with proceeds benefiting the Menlo Park Atherton Education Foundation (MPAEF). Advance tickets are available online via the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association for $49. Tickets can be purchased […]

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Come downtown for a winter wine walk on Dec. 2

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On Saturday, Dec. 2, from 1:00 to 4:30 pm you’ll enjoy wines from small, local boutique wineries of the Santa Cruz Mountains poured in various designated tasting locations up and down Santa Cruz Avenue. The fourth Taste of the Mountains Wine Walk is presented by the Menlo Park Atherton Education Foundation (MPAEF) and the Santa […]

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Courtney Kingston is fourth generation steward of family farm in Chile that now produces wine

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Courtney Kingston’s life’s been a bit farm to farm. She came to Stanford to get her MBA, writing a business plan about how to convert her family’s dairy farm in the Casablanca Valley in Chile into a Pinot farm by planting grapes on the western hills. “We even have a Palm Drive going into our […]

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Perfect afternoon to walk downtown and sip wines from Santa Cruz Mountains

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The third annual Taste of the Mountains arrived this afternoon on Santa Cruz Avenue. It’s an opportunity to taste wines from wineries just up the hill from Menlo Park and learn from winemakers. Nine local retailers played host to 11 Santa Cruz mountain wineries. The event is a great opportunity to visit with the winemakers […]

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Taste of the Mountains returns to downtown Menlo Park on June 3

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The Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association presents the third annual Taste of the Mountains Wine Walk on Saturday, June 3 in downtown Menlo Park from 2:00-5:30pm. Tickets are $49, and  proceeds from the event will benefit the Menlo Park Atherton Education Foundation. Enjoy wines from small, local boutique wineries of the Santa Cruz Mountains poured in various […]

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Jim Varner talks about the newest Varner wines

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Jim Varner was on a path to be a winemaker while his “smarter than me” twin brother, Bob, was studying to be a geneticist. Today Bob is the winemaker and Jim is the businessman behind Menlo Park-based Varner Wine. “I have the degree, and he read all my textbooks,” Jim quipped during a visit at his Ladera home. […]

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Taste of the Mountains wine walk makes a return visit to downtown Menlo Park

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The 2nd annual Taste of the Mountains wine walk will take place Saturday, December 3,  from 2:00 to 5:00 pm along Santa Cruz Avenue in downtown Menlo Park. Organized by the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association, the event showcases nearby wineries, with all ticket proceeds going to the Menlo Park Atherton Education Foundation (MPAEF.) Participating wineries include: […]

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Spotted: Vat of delicious sangria at Woodside Vineyards

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Woodside Vineyards, which is one of the wineries located in Menlo Park, has great wine club member events. Today, they hosted a sangria and fajitas party. The sangria was made from their Grenache Rosé mixed with brandy and fruit. Very, very tasty!

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