Heritage Oak Winery: In Love with Lodi

Heritage Oak offered a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere at their lovely tasting room. The facility is elegantly appointed with wood paneling and stone floors. It was a little bit of a surprise in contrast to the somewhat plain appearance of the building that houses it.

Heritage Oak Winery
It was a lot more crowded before the Jersey Short Bus departed

When we first arrived the tasting room was a crowded sea of cologne, skinny jeans and popped collars. It wasn’t too long though before the Jersey Short Bus departed, making more room for the rest of us.

The tasting room is flanked by large doors on both ends, creating excellent flow out to the back patio which was set up with party tents and tables. A duo played blues on bass and bottleneck guitar, and I must congratulate them on finding the perfect volume to be heard without drowning out conversation.

Heritage Oak Winery
How many bass players does it take to screw in a light bulb? One. Five. One. Five.

The bar was staffed by a handful of folks who seemed quite relaxed despite the large number of people crowding the place when we first arrived.

One note for tasting room staff. This occurred elsewhere as well but was particularly severe in my experience at Heritage Oak. If your bar has room for 10 people and your tasting room is crowded with 40 or more, you need to manage your conversations with people at the bar so you don’t shut out people who are obviously waiting behind them for a pour. It’s not reasonable to expect the customers to realize they are monopolizing bar space and preventing others from getting a pour. If you make eye contact with someone waiting and you ignore them to continue chatting with the customers who want to discuss every sip with you, you’ve very quickly created a very negative impression.

The Wines

2009 Sauvignon Blanc: Subtle, even laid back, with a mineral flavor and an effervescent feel. Nikki adds: This had a minerality I associate with sparkling water. I’m a big fan of sparkling water, so this was a positive.

2007 Zinfandel “Zinfidelity”: Mellow, estery with a hint of spice. This is a real easy-drinker. Nikki adds: I got a hint of caramel and plum on this one.

2007 Vino Tinto: Tastes like a close cousin to the above Zin. A bit fruitier, a touch less estery and a greater presence of tannins in a well-balanced, accessible wine. Nikki adds: When you read Anne Rice’s “Interview With a Vampire,” you might imagine the blood tasting just like this.

2007 Carnivale: Starting to notice a signature style here. This has similar mellowness and warmth to the other reds, just a touch more acid for a brighter character.

2007 Estate Zinfandel: This falls pretty squarely between the Zinfidelity and the Carnivale. More acidic than the former, not as much as the latter. A very nice wine, but doesn’t separate itself much from what is turning out to be a pretty narrow range of flavors.

2008 Hoffman Vineyards Zinfandel: Again, just a slight variation from the preceding reds. This one is a bit fruitier. Nikki says: I tasted a hint of apple in this one as well as some oak.

2008 Heritage Oak Zinfandel: Same, but a little less fruity than the Hoffman Vineyards Zin.

The reds were all quite good, and I’d be happy serving any of them to friends, but I was a bit surprised at how similar they were to each other. The winemaker obviously has a strong preference for that flavor profile, but in a stable of six reds I’d hope to see a little more variety of expression.

Macchia: In Love with Lodi

As we approached Macchia we knew it was a happening place. Cars lined both sides of the country lane in front of the facility, and as we parked and got out of the car we heard the sounds of a live band playing rock and roll. We moseyed on in, and it turns out the band was not the main draw. Clearly people were there for the wines – the tasting room was packed!

Macchia Winery
This was taken during a rare lull in the tasting room action

Macchia’s main public venue is in a converted house. The tasting room looks like it was once the living room, with an adjacent dining room serving as overflow space. When we visited, the overflow room had a table with some very tasty meatballs in what we learned was a Zinfandel/habanero reduction. Wow, those were good! [Note: Nikki the vegetarian seethes with envy.] The tasting room maintains a sense of intimacy, but also has an elegant feel.

Macchia Winery
If you were taking this photo the meatballs [that you didn't get to eat because THE PHOTOGRAPHER IS A VEGETARIAN DAMN IT - Nikki, who is not bitter at all] would be just to your right.

The band was playing on a stage at one end of a large lawn outside. Between the house and lawn was a barrel-tasting station, and on the other side of the lawn Wine Club members were treated to their own tastings in a large outbuilding. There was also an artisan cupcake vendor tempting attendees with all manner of delicious baked goods, as well as a toffee vendor offering up succulent sweets.

The tasting room was filled with exuberant wine tasters which was gratifying to see, but it made getting to the bar to get a pour something of a challenge. We certainly don’t begrudge a winery for drawing a crowd, but if you attend an event like the Lodi Wine and Chocolate Weekend you should be prepared to be a little assertive to get a taste. Being shy will not cut it. [Fortunately for Mike and Kevin, no one will ever apply the adjective “shy” to Nikki or Carissa. They fought their way up to the bar against ridiculous odds and overwhelming numbers and held down a section like King Henry V’s troops at Agincourt. Only with fewer archers, less blood, and no awesome St. Crispin’s Day speech.]

The Wines

2009 Barbera “Infamous”: A medium-bodied wine full of fruit with a pleasant hint of tobacco to add some mystery and keep it from tasting jammy. Nikki adds: This savory wine had a flavor like marinade running off grilled meat. Says the vegetarian. And also, Amador County makes appellation number 3 for this trip! Wooooo!

2009 Zinfandel “Mischievous”: Another medium-bodied wine that opens with an evolving surge of fruit which expands until the tannins take over for the finish. Nikki: I tasted a candy-cherry beginning, with a bitter finish. Which makes this wine like all my relationships before Mike!

2009 Petite Sirah “Rebellious”: Is this a theme emerging? This wine also opens with a statement of fruit that then segues into a soft tannic finish.

2009 Zinfandel “Flirtatious”: This Zin was the jammiest, with a bit of ashiness to signal the close.

Barrel tastings:

2010 Sangiovese “Amorous”: Although this was obviously a young wine (it was after all a barrel tasting) it gave a good indication of where it would head in maturity. The tannins were present but not assertive, and it had a substantial fruit flavor that developed on the tongue over time. There was a slight almost effervescent quality that was really the only element that betrayed its youth. Of the wines I tasted at Macchia, this one had the most complexity. I’d be interested to try this in a couple of years. Nikki says: My notes say, “Almost a bloody-rich taste.” Mike either has a more sensitive palate than I, or a larger library of adjectives.

2010 Zinfandel “Prestigious”: We were told this came from the oldest Zinfandel vine in Lodi. Compared to the Sangiovese this was quite a bit more obviously a young wine. There was a fairly strong presence of grape skin flavor at the end which I expect would moderate as the wine ages. It seemed pretty consistent with the other Zins we sampled at Macchia and will undoubtedly make a fine addition to their offerings once it’s ready.

Macchia Winery clearly got into the spirit of the weekend and offered a fun, energetic setting to mingle and enjoy tasting. Our consensus was that Macchia wines would be lovely to share with friends and have with food, but overall the flavors didn’t seem to have the layers or complexity we look for in a special-occasion keeper.

An Odd Kind of Wine

We were planning on visiting some appellations on Long Island while we were on a recent sojourn to New York City. The weather, however, had different ideas.

Buried car
The car's not on the other side of the snowbank - it's in the snowbank! Sad face.

Our friends Kristen and Corner had volunteered to drive to the tasting rooms on Long Island from their home in Astoria. Sure, we could have shoveled their car out from under the snowpile but then we’d still have had to navigate the treacherous (i.e. not thoroughly-plowed) roads of Queens to get to the tasting rooms, and that just seemed like a recipe for regret.

Luckily Corner knew of a magical place in Williamsburg (gotta love the subway!) that is making an odd kind of wine. Instead of using grapes they use barley, and rather than adding oak they add something called “hops.” The wines are all sparkling at this intriguing location. We decided to check it out, so we trudged several blocks uphill through hip-deep snow (both ways!) and visited the Brooklyn Brewery.

Cheers to Brooklyn Brewery
Beer in hand. Happy Face!

They call their strange wines “beer” which includes such varietals as “ale,” “porter,” “stout,” “lager,” “pilsner” and more.

A steel tank at Brooklyn Brewery
Now in mini-kegs!

Upon entering, turn left and visit the front counter to buy wooden tokens which you can exchange for beer in the indoor beer-garden. Six tokens costs $20; you can purchase smaller quantities, but six for 20 is the best value. Most of the beers are one token, with some of the super-specialty items costing two tokens. There are two extra-super-specialty beers that cost three tokens; the third, however, seems to cover the very swanky keepsake glass that beer’s poured into.

Our tasting
Clockwise from top: Beer, beer, beer, beer, beer. Center: fancy beer

I called it an indoor beer garden rather than a pub or bar because it really has a beer garden feel. Seating is all at communal tables, most of which are large picnic tables. The expansive room features exposed brick walls and beautiful wooden rafters. The bar is at one end of the room opposite the entry.

Many other people had braved the snow to visit the brewery. It was quite lively, and we were fortunate to find a table (a plywood disc screwed to the top of a large barrel) that could accommodate our party of four. We enjoyed our beers while waiting for the 2:00 brewery tour to begin.

The brewery tour attracted a large group. We convened in the entry area between the token booth and a row of stainless steel tanks, then our guide got our attention and led us into the brewery part of the facility.

Steel tanks in brewery
I'd tap that.

The tour was a bit truncated because the brewery is undergoing a major expansion, and it was not safe to have people wandering about among the construction and the new brewery equipment. We really just stayed at one end of the cavernous space and listened to a lively, humorous and informative speech about the origins of the brewery, the initial development of the Brooklyn facility and the current expansion.

Brooklyn Brewery germinated in the head of Steve Hindy, an AP Middle East correspondent who couldn’t get beer when he was stationed in that region. When he returned to the US in 1986 he pitched his idea of starting a brewery to investment banker Tom Potter, who was skeptical. After Steve went to a microbrewer’s convention in Portland OR, his enthusiasm overcame Tom’s reluctance. They became business partners and started brewing beer in Utica NY in 1987.

They mainly did contract brewing for other labels while offering their own line of craft beers. In 1996 they opened their brewery in Williamsburg (in Brooklyn). The Brooklyn Brewery is the first commercial brewer in all of New York City since 1976, and they did it in a borough that once had 100 active breweries. Prior to its highest calling as a brewery, the Williamsburg facility was first a steel mill, then a matzoh ball factory.

80% of their product originates from the Utica facility with the remainder brewed in Willamsburg. When their current expansion is complete the balance will be closer to 50/50.

The Brooklyn Brewery logo was designed by Milton Glaser, the man responsible for the original “I ♥ NY” design.

Brewery tour in the new expansion
This shows maybe half the room

When the tour ended several people lingered to ask the guide questions. At that point we decided it would be better to drink more beer, so we headed back into the beer garden and did just that.

The Beers

Pilsner

Mike: Pretty middle-of-the-road. Heavier than I expected from a Pilsner. A bit sweet and malty up-front, a little bitter on finish.

Nikki: Darker and fuller than expected. Really full flavors – citrus and enough hops to underline the carbonation.

Lager

Mike: Darker than most lagers I’ve had, and heavier. Red color. Looks, tastes and feels more like an ale.

Winter

Nikki: Sweet, yeasty and tasty! Not a lot of hop flavors.

#2

Nikki: Almost red-winey. Elements of oak and flavors I’d expect in a pinot. Plus chocolate! Worth every splinter of the three tokens.

Mike: Is that why I didn’t get to taste this?

BCS

Nikki: Take a non-Guinness stout (something thicker) and put a chocolate bar in it. That’s this beer.

Mike: Fruitier, tangier than I expected with richer/nuttier finish.

Weisse

Mike: Unfiltered. Estery but not as banana-y as my general idea of weissbiers. Nice finish. My favorite of their brews.

Nikki: Tasty! Not as estery as I expected. A little underlying citrus.

The Wrap-Up

Brooklyn Brewery was a fun place to spend time and enjoy some craft beers with friends. We’ll definitely drop in again when we’re in New York.

Wrap-Up: Gilroy Rambling

Gilroy was a great trip. Tom and Anne were great company and excellent guides. We really enjoyed being able to spend some time with them and to experience the scenic splendor that surrounds their stomping grounds. Thanks Tom and Anne!

Vines at Martin Ranch Winery
Vines at Martin Ranch Winery

Each winery we tasted at had its own distinct character and approach, but common among them was skill in balancing flavors in a way that allows each one to cooperate and share the spotlight rather than competing for it.

We enjoyed the social aspects at each winery, and we were happy to have had a range of experiences, from smaller, intimate spaces to bigger, more festive events. The various tasting room personnel and winemakers we spoke with were quite knowledgeable and eloquent, and we learned a great deal about wine, winemaking and some of the history of the Uvas Valley.

A view of hills across a pond
The moon rising over the pond at Martin Ranch Winery

The restrictions on hours of operation for some of the wineries makes it marginally more challenging to make Gilroy a wine-tasting destination, but it’s definitely worthwhile. If Gilroy isn’t on your list of places to go wine tasting, you should add it right now.

The one negative aspect was palate fatigue. That’s a problem we’ll need to solve. If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave us a comment. Apart from that though, Gilroy was a wonderful trip.

Jason-Stephens Winery: Gilroy Rambling Part 4

Jason-Stephens Winery is located on the floor of the Uvas Valley, and because it is on a more major road than some of the other tasting rooms we visited on this trip it is not subject to the same restrictions with regard to hours of operation. Jason-Stephens is open Thursday through Monday  from 12-5pm (get there by 4:45 at the latest if you want to taste).

Jason-Stephens is the brainchild (vine-child?) of winemaker Jason Goelz and grower Stephen Dorcich. The two men are committed to creating premium wines that are complex, with the goal of pleasing a broad range of palates.

The winery has a large outdoor area for events and is undergoing improvements to make it even more amenable to outdoor gatherings.

A pyramid of 10 oak wine barrels on the bed of an antique truck
I think you only have to age the wine, not the truck

The tasting room is a work-in-progress. The natural fabrics draping over partially exposed framing felt like a pretty decent design choice rather than an attempt to hide anything, and the stained-concrete bar with lights embedded under frosted glass was very nice. Nikki wanted to make sure I mentioned that they had hooks for purses under the overhang of the bar top, an amenity she would like to see all tasting rooms adopt immediately!

Nikki adds: If you’re male this may not be something you think about, but as a woman I appreciate any bar or tasting room that has a handbag hook. It saves me from putting my purse in a puddle of wine on the tasting room counter, from leaving it on the floor to get stepped on, or from keeping it on my shoulder the whole time, and generally makes for a more pleasant experience. It also shows me that the tasting room has given thought to the clientele that might visit. Tasting room counters that have a section that’s lower for those who use wheelchairs also always get a little extra notch of respect in my book.

Bill poured for us and was an excellent host. He was most enthusiastic and knowledgeable about Jason-Stephens wines and was an engaging conversationalist.

Us with Jason-Stephens tasting room staffer Bill
Bill's the one in the stylin' fedora

In the interest of full disclosure, Nikki and I had both started getting palate fatigue by the time we got to Jason Stephens. If you don’t know what that is, there’s a point you hit after tasting a fair number of wines where the tannins and acidity of the wines makes it quite difficult to clear your palate. Your tongue becomes much more sensitive to tannins which makes them seem much more prominent and also makes it difficult (if not impossible) to discern the presence of multiple subtle flavors in the wines you taste.

It’s early days yet for The Appellation Trail, but clearly we’re going to have to figure out how to time our tastings so we can give the wines the sensitivity they deserve. We’re thinking of tasting at a maximum of two or three wineries in a row before taking a substantial break – probably involving lunch or some other meal – in order to let our palates recover before continuing.

We both agreed we’d like to taste at Jason-Stephens again when our palates are fresher. We tasted their offerings, paid attention and took notes, but we know we didn’t get everything the wines here had to offer. We looked for crackers at Jason-Stephens but didn’t spot any. We would have welcomed some – we think we might have been able to get more out of the wines if we could have had some non-wine flavors calming our taste buds a little.

Tip #2 to Winemakers: Have crackers or some other palate-cleansing edible on hand so weary wine tasters can refresh their tastebuds!

The Wines

2009 Estate Chardonnay (Santa Clara Valley): This wine was fermented in stainless steel and then bottled. Tom’s quote: “This is spanky!” Nikki remarked that it was delicious, like a Chardonnay candy. I liked the clean taste and feeling of warmth I got from it.

2009 Estate Select Chardonnay (Santa Clara Valley): This is the same wine as above, except this batch was fermented in oak. It was interesting to taste the two Chardonnays back-to-back. Many of the flavor attributes were consistent with the un-oaked version, but then the oak flavor gradually came in and provided a nice finish. Nikki noted less citrus in the oaked version and found it to be softer.

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (Santa Clara Valley): Bill called this their “entry-level” Cabernet, made from fruit grown on newer vines than their Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. I detected welcome notes of cherry. Nikki found it fruity. We both found the finish to be a bit astringent, but I think we’re really seeing the results of palate fatigue here. Everything starts tasting astringent after a while – I don’t think this would have hit us this way if we were tasting on fresher palates.

2007 Merlot (Santa Clara Valley): There were cherry notes in ths one too, but more subtle than in the ’06 Cab. The flavor had some complexity to it, but again my tongue was oversensitized to astringency and i couldn’t really taste my way through it. I’d really like to give this one another try.

2007 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Santa Clara Valley): I liked the ashy/mineral front end on this Cab which was followed by a swell of fruit.

2007 Estate Meritage (Santa Clara Valley): Plum and caramel welcomed me into this wine, but the astringency thing again made me wish I were tasting this earlier in the day when I could appreciate it more.

2007 Blend – 60% Cabernet Sauvignon/40% Syrah (Santa Clara Valley): Bill said this was his favorite. Nikki liked the hints of chocolate she was detecting in the nose. I liked the presence of warm fruit.

We feel like Jason-Stephens got the short end of the stick due to our overworked tastebuds, but the good news is that we’ll gladly go back to Gilroy and taste there again. There’s a whole handful of wineries we didn’t get to this time. We’ll make sure to get to Jason-Stephens earlier in the trip.

Fernwood Cellars: Gilroy Rambling Part 2

We started the day’s tasting in the elegant new tasting room at Fernwood Cellars. Redwood Retreat Road, where Fernwood Cellars is located, is quaint, serpentine and picturesque. It’s also quite narrow, a factor which has limited the times when many of the wineries there can open their tasting rooms to the general public. The Fernwood Cellars tasting room is open every third weekend of the month, from noon to 5:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Second generation winemaker Matt Oetinger started Fernwood Cellars on land that has been in his family for six generations. (Sadly, we didn’t get to meet him, as he had a family engagement that day.) While the property was once home to a “metaphysical resort,” it now evokes spirits of a more delicious kind.

An unassuming metal industrial building houses the tasting room. Upon entering the four of us were greeted with an interior that is elegant and comfortable, appointed with rich brown woods and a warm granite bar.The walls display framed historic photos of former buildings on the property such as the Victorian-era Redwood Retreat Hotel.

The room has a traditional feel, and it looked to be able to comfortably handle 10-12 people at a time (or more, if everyone knows each other). It also is conducive to meeting your fellow wine fans; while we were there we met a couple from Australia that had just moved to Aptos.

The tasting room staff was welcoming. Sheryl Cathers poured for us. She had the easygoing yet professional demeanor of someone with complete confidence in the wines she was pouring — and deservedly so. We were impressed with everything we tasted.

Fernwood Cellars - with Sheryl Cathers
Oh hey, there's Sheryl. In the middle.

The Wines

2008 Estate Chardonnay (Santa Cruz Mountains): I really liked this Chardonnay. There was oak, but not too much. There was citrus, but not too much. And there was a nice finish of toasted sugar, which I really enjoy. Nikki said the flavor gave her a pleasant sensation of fizziness (although it is not a sparkling wine).  None of the several flavors dominated; instead this was a well-balanced, sociable wine that can be enjoyed alone or with food.

2008 Zinfandel (El Dorado*): “Balanced complexity” is a phrase that kept entering my mind as we progressed through the tasting menu (in fact, it became a recurring theme of the day). The El Dorado Zinfandel had hints of cherry and its acidity was appealing but again, it was just right, never too much. Oak provided a nice coda, with the tannins contributing some punctuation without being too assertive. I felt that the flavor progression was enveloped by a nice, faint lacquer aroma which to my palate evokes a sense of tradition.

2007 Mirepoix (Santa Cruz Mountains): Nikki’s notes say this was a Bordeaux blend. I was probably petting the tasting room dog when she was learning that. I enjoyed this wine but it was difficult for me to isolate flavors within it. I noticed a kind of earthy, ashy taste which I quite liked but I couldn’t really dial my taste buds in to the other flavor components. Nikki loved the Mirepoix and noted a soft oak finish.

2008 Syrah (Santa Cruz Mountains:) Wow. This is a new release, and Sheryl and the other tasting room personnel insisted this one should be cellared for 6-8 years before it reaches its potential. I have to say this is the most mature-tasting young wine I’ve ever sampled in my (admittedly rather short) wine tasting “career.” [The staff said they’d double-decanted the wine in the morning to make up for its lack of age. – Nikki] Given how impressive it is now I can only imagine what “full potential” even means with regard to this wine. But it looks like I’ll get to witness it myself – we brought a bottle home with us and put a duct-tape note on it that says “Do not open until 2017.” It was a little spicy with just perfect tannins and earth writing the final chapter. It was deep and velvety, and Nikki {the vegetarian, ahem – N.] described it as “meaty.”

2007 Cabarnet Sauvignon (Santa Cruz Mountains): Nikki and I both noted this as a 2008 vintage, but I’m pretty sure after some Internet research that it was a 2007. A gold medal winner in the San Francisco Chronicle’s 2011 Wine Competition, this Cab had a velvety, dark character with tannins that seemed to evolve while it was on my tongue. A little more alcohol on the nose made me expect something aggressive, but as with all of Fernwood’s offerings the flavors were expertly balanced.

Fernwood Cellars produces distinctive wines with well-balanced, harmonious complexity. Matt Oetinger and his staff should be quite pleased with their accomplishments. I know we were.

* For those filling out their Appellation Trail Scorecards at home, the El Dorado Zinfandel doesn’t count toward our appellation total because the tasting room is too far away from the actual appellation.

Gilroy Rambling

My friend Tom Hepner, whom I met during The Foreigner at The Western Stage, had spoken glowingly about the great wineries in his neighborhood in Gilroy. If Gilroy sounds familiar, perhaps you know it as Garlic City.  

Gilroy is the nation’s top grower of garlic; for much of the year you can tell when you’re nearing Gilroy on the 101 by the smell. It also hosts one of the nation’s largest food festivals, the Gilroy Garlic Festival. It’s known by those driving up and down the 101 as either the home to the Gilroy Premium Outlet Mall or the location of the only In ‘n Out between Salinas and San Jose.  

The town is named after early settler John Gilroy. He was a scurvy-ridden Scottish sailor who converted to Catholicism, journeyed from Monterey to the area and was the first non-Spanish settler legally recognized by the Spanish crown.  

Before Tom mentioned it, it had never occurred to me that there might be grapes in them thar hills. I know, I should expect winemaking to be happening everywhere. Haven’t I learned anything while living in California?!?  

With our hosts, Anne and Tom Hepner
With our hosts, Anne and Tom Hepner. For once, Mike's the one who shut his eyes when the shutter clicked.

We made a date to visit Tom and his wife Anne and visit some of Tom’s favorite vintners in the gorgeous, verdant rolling hills where they live.  

The wineries in Tom and Anne’s neighborhood (seriously, there’s a vineyard right across the street from their property!) sit right on the border between the Santa Cruz Mountain appellation and the Santa Clara appellation. Winemaker Dan Martin of Martin Ranch Winery told us that the placement of the boundary between the appellations on and adjacent to his vineyards is due to the change in elevation.  

A vineyard in afternoon sun
Everywhere you look it's gorgeous views!

All Santa Cruz Mountains vineyards must be at a minimum altitude of 800 feet on the east side of the mountains and 400 feet on the west side of the mountains, according to documents on the Viticultural Association of Santa Cruz Mountains website. The VASCM says these borders were established to follow the fog line and that the appellation was one of the first to be defined by its topography.  

First to cover some non-wine issues: The countryside surrounding Gilroy is really beautiful! The vistas are stunning, and the drive up the gently winding, narrow road to the places we went is filled with beautiful scenery. We drove through a stretch that looked like a cathedral of oak trees, their trunks arcing gracefully over the road (by the time I thought to take a picture the light wasn’t good, but check out the background image at Fernwood Cellars’ website). The area is lush and green, with the occasional stand of palm trees reminding one that this is in fact California.  

A row of palm trees at Jason-Stephens Winery in Gilroy
A row of palm trees at Jason-Stephens Winery in Gilroy

It was great to spend the afternoon with Tom and Anne, and we were reminded again that while tasting wonderful, small-lot artisan wines is a pleasure all of its own, the real treasure of this activity — and of our Appellation Trail project — is social. Spending time relaxing with friends in beautiful settings and making new friends is really the point of the whole endeavor. We couldn’t be happier with how that’s working out.  

There are a lot of wineries we didn’t get to on this trip, but we’ll gladly visit Gilroy again.