South Valley Wine Scene
Time for a Taste : South Valley Wineries
by Cindy Adams , Sommelier / Wine Educator at Calerrain Winery in Gilroy Photos by Kirigin Cellars , Martin Ranch , Fernwood Cellars , Visit Morgan Hill
Driving along the backroads of our lovely South County , you will pass acres and acres of vineyards , now tinged with green as the leaves unfurl and the buds break into what will become the 2022 wine vintage .
Santa Clara Valley , stretching from south San Jose to the south end of Gilroy , is home to approximately 30 wineries and vineyards producing everything from light sparkling wines to deep , rich Ports and other dessert wines . A great way to enjoy a soft , warm spring day is to visit these lovely wineries and taste the myriad wines available .
The oldest wineries in the area were largely established in the late 1800s by Italian immigrants who settled in this area and brought with them generations of winemaking expertise . They dealt with phylloxera , a disease that attacks grapevines , and Prohibition , which put a dent in their ability to make wine from 1920 to 1933 . To get a sense of this history , visit Fortino Winery and Guglielmo Winery , where you ' ll find delicious and unusual varietals such as Grignolino or Charbono . If you ’ re lucky , you ’ ll run into Gino Fortino or Gene and George Guglielmo , who are always happy to recount their family ’ s history for visitors ( and maybe even provide an impromptu tour ). If your wine tastes run to delicious hearty reds , stop in and taste the wines at Solis Winery and Dorcich Family Vineyards . Here you will find fruity , rich Cabernets , Merlots and Zinfandels . Their cozy tasting rooms are welcoming and both have lovely outdoor areas for enjoying a picnic lunch or savoring a glass or bottle of wine .
In the past couple of years , many newer wineries have appeared on the Santa Clara Valley scene , as innovative winemakers discover the quality and diversity of Santa Clara Valley grapes . Some favorites include Calerrain Wines , Church Creek Cellars , Verde Vineyards , La Vie Dansante and J Winston Winery . All have lovely outdoor tasting rooms to enjoy the spring sunshine and a wide range of varietals to enjoy .
One of the largest , if not THE largest , winery and tasting room in the area is Clos la Chance . Situated on the private CordeValle golf course and resort , the winery is open to the public . Here you ’ ll enjoy a variety of delicious wines and light fare prepared by their onsite chef . During the summer , come out on a warm Thursday evening for “ Time for Wine ,” a musical showcase of local bands . Grab some friends , and lawn chairs , and enjoy your wine in the summer evening , and maybe even dance on their large grassy area . By the way , if you like live music with your wine , many wineries host local bands on the weekends .
So , now you have a great variety of wineries to visit , but what do you do when you get there ? Obviously , drink and enjoy the wine , but before you set out , spend a few minutes planning your trip . Visit the websites of those wineries you ’ re interested in , since not all tasting rooms are open every weekend , and some may even be having special events .
When you arrive , it will be clear whether you can seat yourself or check in with a host . You will be presented with a tasting list , which tells you the tasting fee . Some tasting fees are refundable with a purchase , and some are not . This is at the discretion of each individual winery and is part of the tasting experience . Once the wines are poured for you , enhance your experience by engaging your senses . Hold the glass up and look at the color . This will let your taste buds know to expect a lighter wine or a heavier one . Then , smell the wine ( swirl it in the glass ). Take a deep whiff to assess the components in the wine . Then , sip the wine . Let it sit in your mouth for a few seconds to appreciate the flavors . You might want to take a bite of a cracker or bread in between the wines to clear your palate . Wine tasting is so enjoyable that you might lose track of time , but please be mindful of the operating hours of the tasting room .
If you ’ re new to wine tasting , welcome to the start of a great new pastime . If not , enjoy your wine tasting journey . Cheers !
64 SPRING 2022 gmhTODAY Magazine gmhtoday . com