11550 Watsonville Rd., Gilroy, CA, 95020 (link to map)
Kirigin Cellars, founded in 1916 as Bonesio Winery, is one of the oldest wineries in California. It survived Prohibition and World War II, and continues to make enjoyable wines today. In fact, the winery just won a gold, four silvers and two bronzes at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
As you can see from the entryway, the winery itself has a fun, retro vibe.
This laid-back feel carried into the tasting room. The friendly staff, as well as the adorable and playful winery dog, made everybody feel welcome. It’s a tasting room that feels like going into your best friend’s den when you were a kid.
The winery also scores points for the great breadsticks they leave out to clear the palate. I thought my tastebuds were dead from fatigue, but a wheat-filled nibble gave them a second wind and allowed me to enjoy a few more wines.
While we were there, the staff were celebrating both the San Francisco Chronicle wins and their dog’s 11th birthday, so there was a cake on hand made from their award-winning Malvasia Blanca. Unfortunately, we were all too full to eat any!
It was clear that we were at our last tasting room of the day; I failed to write down the year or appellation of the wines we tasted, and Mike forgot his notebook entirely and took his notes in mine. Still, better than our last outing, in which we forgot notebooks entirely and were forced to jot our thoughts down with our mobile phones.
Sauvignon Blanc: This was fruity and tasty, and sweeter than the sauvignon blancs I normally drink. I’ve said it before in describing one of Burrell School’s wines, so you all know that to me this is not a negative, but there was just the faintest aroma of skunk in the scent. Again, I’m sure I’m the only person in the world who will smell that.
Chardonnay: An easy-drinking wine, neither too buttery nor too oaky. There was a slight ashy flavor to the wine, the sort you get in a Humboldt Fog cheese.
2008 Malvasia Blanca: This was a truly fascinating wine, with a really complex flavor. There was a scent and a flavor of pineapple, with a very dry finish. It was like hearing two distinct and very different notes played one after the other.
Estate Red: At this point I had to hand the tasting over to Mike, because my palate was once again getting fatigue. Mike’s notes indicate that he found it nice and rich, with a hint of lacquer, but “not too tannic, accessible.”
Pinot Noir: My tastebuds had revived enough to sample this. It was fruity and lively, but had a strong alcohol finish (or the palate fatigue hadn’t quite been banished).
Vino de Mocca: Tom had brought us to Kirigin specifically to sample the Vino de Mocca, and he was right when he thought we’d love this unusual wine. This unique dessert wine is infused with coffee and chocolate and just a hint of orange. If you can imagine the best possible result of ordering a mocha spiked with port at your favorite cafe, it would be this. They’ve christened it “the kissing wine” and I understand why. If Mike gifted me with a bottle of this he’d certainly get a big kiss!
Many thanks to Dave “The Wine Guy” for showing us a great time and being willing to pose with us for a photo!