gmhTODAY 03 gmhToday July Aug 2015 - Page 47

THE VINE Celebrating Our Award Winning Wines By Kyle Fanthorpe Kyle Fanthorpe is a UC Santa Cruz alum and Gilroy native. Over the past several years he has worked in various aspects of the wine industry throughout the Bay Area, including traditional wineries in Santa Clara Valley and urban wineries in San Francisco. Currently, he is the General Manager at Bella Viva Wine Bar in Gilroy where he handles operations and events. When Kyle is not wine-tasting or attending tradeshow events, he’s an avid traveler and writer. W hen you look up Santa Clara Valley in any of the major wine books, if it’s mentioned at all, the region tends to be relegated to just a paragraph or so. Some mention the region’s long history of wine production until Silicon Valley’s tech boom uprooted countless acres of vineyards. Unfortunately, there’s too little mention of the quality of the wines, the large array of wineries, or the beauty of the valley itself. This is changing. And so it was encouraging when the Wineries of Santa Clara Valley, a non- profit organization, and the Morgan Hill Downtown Association gave an enthusiastic nod to the burgeoning Santa Clara Valley AVA (American Viticulture Area) last April at the Morgan Hill Community and Culture Center. They hosted an event called Our Award Winning Wine Region Celebration to highlight the much- deserved accolades earned by our local vineyards. Specifically, the ceremony acknowledged the numerous awards won by local winemakers at the 2014 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Tasting Competition. The event featured thirteen wineries, pouring their award-winning wines alongside food pairings from seven downtown Morgan Hill eateries. This was the first event of its kind and included prominent speakers from the community and raffle prizes for attendees. I arrived a few minutes early and checked in. Attendants walked me through the agenda and handed me a length of perforated tickets which could be exchanged for a taste of one of the wines being poured. Upon entering, I couldn’t help but admire the decorative flourishes. Purple and green balloon arrangements framed the hall in the shape of giant wine grape clusters. Round tables dotting the center of the room were adorned with cleverly designed cork art centerpieces. Dapperly dressed attendees included a who’s who of the South County wine scene. Winemakers and kingmakers mingled freely with general enthusiasts and tasting room staff. Most of the wineries represented were familiar to me. They were set up in two rows along either side of the hall. Wines from J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Kirigin Cellars, and Medeiros Family Wine were paired with the food stylings of Huntington Station and The Good Fork. Selections from Martin Ranch Winery, Sunlit Oaks Winery, Fortino Winery, and Creekview Vineyards were paired with Mama Mia’s cuisine. I set immediately to sampling. While in the middle of sipping a plush Cab from J. Johr’s Paso Robles vineyard, I was interrupted. The President of the Morgan Hill Downtown Business Association, Cheri Devlin, came up to the podium to introduce the event. She was followed by Gene Guglielmo who heads the Wineries of Santa Clara Valley nonprofit. Guglielmo GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN JULY/ AUGUST 2015 outlined the groups mission, to foster and promote the winemaking heritage of SCV. He also touched on his family’s 90-year history pursuing that end. (A feature on the Guglielmo winemaking legacy was included in the May/June issue of gmh Today.) The last speaker was Morgan Hill Mayor Steve Tate. He took the opportunity to reiterate the importance of Morgan Hill’s support, along with the communities of Gilroy and San Martin in continuing to build Santa Clara Valley’s wine culture. After they concluded, I continued on my tasting circuit and met Thérèse Martin of Martin Ranch. She poured for me both an outstanding Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. I was happy to share with Thérèse that I was introduced to our SCV wine initially by trying one of Martin Ranch’s Cabs at Bella Viva in Gilroy. Moving on — Lightheart Cellars, Castillo’s Hillside Shire Winery, and Sarah’s Vineyard wines were paired with food from Bubbles Wine Bar and Ladera Grill. Vintages from Jason-Stephens Winery, Guglielmo Winery, and Aver Family Vineyards were coupled with delicious fair from local restaurants Odeum and Rosy’s at the Beach. I had the opportunity to speak with Tim Slater of Sarah’s and Jason Goelz of Jason-Stephens. Sarah’s was pouring the 2011 vintage of its signature Pinot Noir, which boasted a bright juicy aroma of ripe cherries. I had the pleasure of working for Tim at Sarah’s Vineyard last summer 47