Grapes originally from Spain and Portugal thrive quite nicely in California. Stop by Quinta Cruz (the sister brand to Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard) for a taste of their wines if you need convincing. Each one was unique and delicious. Their Verdelho is the answer to grapefruit drenched Sauvignon Blanc and buttery Chardonnay. It is a light crisp dry white wine with the big body and long finish of a robust Chardonnay yet the summer fruit flavors of apricot and citrus. Its amazingly diverse attitude makes it a great wine to pair with about anything in your picnic basket.
But the wine that you’ve probably never heard of will make you remember its name: Graciano. It’s like Spain’s answer to Cabernet Sauvignon only it’s got something the king of grapes almost never has: dark rich chocolate. Its big cherry and plum flavors are the first you’ll notice with even a little blueberry but its silky rich elegance is what lingers.