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Did you know that a thriving wine country exists in Silicon Valley’s backyard? Santa Clara Valley is home to over two-dozen wineries, of every size and shape, from long established (since the 18th century) family operations to relatively small newcomers working out of their garages…Each of the wineries has a fascinating story. What makes the wines of Santa Clara Valley truly unique are the characters who have come to create these wines. Upon visiting the wineries, it is highly likely you’ll find yourself sitting across the table tasting wine and sharing stories with the winemaker or owner. The experience is truly unique.

None of us, the Wine-y Women or myself, were familiar with wines from the Santa Clara Valley. We inspected the bottles and learned that most were produced and bottled in Gilroy, California. And though our collective experience with Gilroy was knowledge of their annual Garlic Festival (before you ask, no, no garlic flavor was imparted into our wines), that was about it.

Gilroy is a little south of San Jose and you may have driven through it on your way to San Francisco. If you kept your eyes peeled you may have noticed a winery on the side of the road. And now, after having the tasting, learning that most of these wineries do tastings, you have a reason to stop on your next road trip.

Tasting with The Wine-y Women Again

Collective Aromas and Flavors separated by ;

1. Lion Ranch Vineyards and Winery

Hours Of Operation: Open the 1st & 3rd weekends of every month: Saturday & Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm, or by appointment. 645 West San Martin Ave., San Martin, CA 95046. (408) 713-8501

*2014 Viognier

The color of pale straw with aromas that included honeysuckle, white peach, apricot and oak; the flavors were bright and crisp, lots of lemon, a “summery” feel and a long finish.

2. Sarah's Vineyard

Hours Of Operation: Open Daily 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. www.sarahsvineyard.com 4005 Hecker Pass Hwy., Gilroy, CA 95020. (408) 847-1947

2014 Pinot Noir

The nose was filled with plum, blackberry, red to black cherries, caramel, vanilla, rose petals, white pepper and toasted oak; on the palate we got some of the same notes as on the nose as well as body, lightness and tanginess with a medium finish.

3. Medeiros Family Wines

Hours Of Operation: Sat & Sun 12-5pm, www.medeirosfamilywines.com, 3200 Dryden Ave, Gilroy, CA 95020. 408-779-8826

2014 Saudade  (Bordeaux Blend)

Very opaque in color and then we noted aromas of Luxardo cherry, blueberry, blackberry, leather, coffee and dark chocolate; the same fruit carried through to the palate with the addition of pepper, tartness and a firm tannin structure that provided a long finish.

4. Morgan Hill Cellars

Hours Of Operation: Open Tues. - Sun. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. www.MorganHillCellars.com 1645 San Pedro Ave., Morgan Hill, CA 95037. (408) 779-7389

2013 Merlot

Lovely plum, blackberry, black pepper and wet bark on the nose; followed by a palate that was all black fruit, dry, peppery, tannic, big and robust.

5. Seeker Vineyard

Hours Of Operation: 12:00 to 5:00 on every Saturday and by appointment. www.seekervineyard.com www.facebook.com/seekervineyard 11755 Turlock Ave, San Martin, CA 95046. (949) 370-1040

*2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

“Yummy” was the first comment on the nose, followed by anise, raspberry, clove, fig, violet; on the mouth there were flavors of dried plums, tart, dry and a short finish.

6. Fortino Winery

Hours Of Operation: Open Tues. - Sat. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. www.fortinowinery.com 4525 Hecker Pass Hwy., Gilroy, CA 95020. (408) 842-3305

*2013 Charbono

Aromas of sweet berries, dried plums, vanilla, cream, milk chocolate; red berries, pine nuts, dry, low tannin and a short finish.

7. La Vie Dansante Wines

Hours Of Operation: Open every weekend noon to 5pm and other times by appointment.  www.laviedansantewines.com 3200-A Dryden Ave, Gilroy, CA 95020. 408.852.0779

Rehearsal (65% Syrah and 35% Carignane)

Strawberry, plum, coffee, cedar, oak and tobacco on the nose; with black cherry as well as tart strawberry, tannins, good balance with a medium finish in the mouth.

8. Jason-Stephens Winery

Hours of Operation: 11:00 AM- 6PM . www.jstephens.com 6500 Brem Lane, Gilroy, CA 95020. (408) 846-VINE

2012 Syrah

Port-like to some of the guests, smoky and floral notes reminiscent of rose petals; then on the mouth we got both red and black fruit, dry and mineral qualities.

 

9. Stefania Wine

Hours Of Operation: Third weekend of each Month Saturday 11-4 Sunday 12-4 and by appointment. www.stefaniawine.com 1800 Day Road, Gilroy, CA 95020. 408 242 8598

*2014 Syrah

Aromas of fresh blueberry, blackberry, cinnamon, coffee; followed by blue to black fruit, peppery, jammy and nicely balanced.

10. Aver Family Vineyards

Hours Of Operation: Open every Friday - Saturday - Sunday Noon - 5 pm. www.averfamilyvineyards.com 2900 Soma Way, Gilroy, CA 95020. (408) 203-8575

*2013 Blessings (Petite Sirah)

Crushed black cherries stuck our collective noses, and then dark chocolate, tobacco, pepper; on the mouth we got bold black cherry, dark chocolate, tannins and a lingering finish.

*Our favorites of the tasting were the Lion Ranch 2014 Viognier, Seeker 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Fortino 2013 Charbono, Aver Family 2013 Petite Sirah and Stefania 2014 Syrah.

http://www.santaclarawines.com/

Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a "certification in first globally-recognized course" as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com