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the Vine Bev Stenehjem Bev Stenehjem is a local wine enthusiast, author and free- lance writer focused on the wineries of Santa Clara Valley. Bev wrote “The Wineries of Santa Clara Valley,” a historical photo book published by Arcadia Publishing in 2015. Fernwood Cellars O ne of our region’s most beautiful wineries is Fernwood Cellars, located along historic Redwood Retreat Road in Gilroy. The property has been passed down through six generations of the same family for over 150 years. It boasts the title of being the oldest, continuously owned property among all the existing wineries in the Santa Clara Valley. Matt Oetinger, the winemaker at Fernwood Cellars, is the great-great-grandson of the original property owner. Matt and his wife, Tiffany, have owned and operated Fernwood Cellars since 1999. An ancient redwood grove and babbling creek provide a respite to families who want to picnic and relax. What did you do before you got started in the wine business? Matt: I have been in the wine business my whole professional career. Tiffany: I was an Executive Assistant for a venture capital fi rm and was always strongly involved in equestrian pursuits. I rode horses since I was seven years old. I transitioned down here to Gilroy doing barn manage- ment and training for a private farm here in Gilroy. Then, once my son, Jake, was born, I stayed home, helping Matt with Fernwood. Matt & Tiffany Oetinger Tiffany: We met at a horse trainer’s ranch who also owned a vineyard. Matt was consulting the owners about their vines and I was helping to plant the grapes. It was love at fi rst sight. In 2001 we married and moved to Gilroy. Do you have a degree in winemaking? Matt: My degree is in Biology but because I worked as a research assistant at U.C. Davis, I was allowed to audit other classes for free. I am just two classes short of a Masters in Viticulture and Enology. I also have lots of on-the-job experience. How did you get started in wine? Matt: I was attending U.C. Davis to pursue a veterinarian career. At that time, my dad caught the wine bug and started to make wine at home. He asked me to take some elective wine classes so that I could help him out with his winemaking. I found that I really enjoyed learning about wine and making it. It changed my aspirations. Being a winemaker is a life-style occupation – it is not a business that many people go into in order to become millionaires. You have to love it. I enjoy the business because it provides a balance between manual, mental, artistic and social work. I love this industry and our amazing staff. 74 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN Matt: Our vineyard is “uncertifi ed organic” which means that although we don’t have an offi cial certifi cation, we do not use any herbicides or synthetics – we use all native yeast. Most of our vines are dry-farmed – us- ing only water from rainfall. Our winemaking technique is very “hands-off.” We let the grapes come in and stay out of the way. Our vines are 100% estate grown (all aspects of vineyard management is controlled by Matt). We grow every single grape that goes into every single bottle. Not many wineries do this. Our Cabernet is true to its classic characteristics. In 10-15 years, it should evolve into something really special. What kind of vibe does your winery have? Tiffany: We hope to make people feel welcome and enjoy their family and friends time on the weekends. It is relaxed and family oriented. Matt: True to our tagline, “Quality is timeless,” our winery offers great wines along with a fascinating history of the property. We have met a lot of our closest friends here at the winery. What is your all-time food and wine pairing? Matt: Our Round Rocks, a Rhone blend, is wonderful with a rack of lamb. And our Chardonnay paired with cracked crab or boiled lobster is awe- some, too. june/july 2019 CELLARS What is your general philosophy about making wine? How did you two meet?