Friday, August 22, 2014

Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail

Gene Guglielmo
The Santa Clara Valley may well be the state's most under-recognized AVA - Wikipedia's entry on the History of California Wine doesn't even mention it by name, in spite of over 160 years of continuous commercial grape growing and wine production. Visitors to the area would scarcely know that so many quality wineries were so close by since, unlike many other AVAs around the state, there's almost no visual indicators to advise them.

The Official Unveiling
So a group of local wineries banded together and enlisted the help of representatives from the cities of Morgan Hill and Gilroy to lobby the county for greater recognition. This has borne fruit, as it were, in the form of the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail. The county has invested around $25,000 in new signage to direct visitors in a loop connecting around 16 wineries located around the Gilroy, San Martin and Morgan Hill areas. The trail runs roughly parallel to 101 on the east side of the valley from Morgan Hill down to Leavesley Road, then along Hecker Pass and back up Watsonville Road. While the signs have been in place for a few weeks, the official launch of the trail took place on Friday, at Guglielmo Winery.

Guglielmo was an ideal choice to showcase the potential of the Santa Clara Valley AVA. The oldest  family-owned winery in the area, the Guglielmos have transformed their business from producing 'jug' wine to a range of high quality estate vintages, as well as being the driving force behind the establishment of the Santa Clara Valley AVA in 1989.

Thomas Kruse disgorges his Chardonnay
The launch saw speeches by several civil dignitaries, followed by a tour along part of the trail and lunch in Gilroy. On the way we tasted quite a number of local wines, including a quite good 2009 Syrah at Morgan Hill Cellars, a freshly disgorged, hand-riddled sparkling Chardonnay at Thomas Kruse, the final vintage of Fratelli vineyard Fiano from Solis, a brand new 2012 Zinfandel from Medeiros Family and a rather fine Port style wine called Eredita from Guglielmo.

The celebrations will continue over the weekend with a special promotion.  Tickets cost $40 at participating wineries.