Santa Clara Passport Weekend

Another fun passport weekend, if you’ve never done one I suggest getting a group of friends together, along with a limo or party bus(that’s what we did), for a good tasting time. 24 wineries participated, we tasted at 4. Typically the wineries pour 2 or maybe 3 tastings on this weekend. We started at Aver Family Vineyards, they poured 2 wines neither of which I particularly cared for but they have a few others that I really like that they normally pour. One of my favorites was Martin Ranch’s merlot and their chardonnay, though the chardonnay was not part of the tasting we bought a bottle because we knew it was tasty. Next we went to Solis, they always do a barrel tasting along with 2 other tastings and some yummie sliders to munch on. Lastly was Sarah’s Vineyard, they had a pretty good pinot noir and delicious cheese and crackers.  This makes for a fun day with friends and gives you some idea of what these wineries offer though keep in mind it is only a small sampling of a couple of their wines. Until next year….



Santa Clara Wine Passport Weekend, Fall 2012.

The Fan 4 took part in the Santa Clara Wine Passport Weekend.  We got a great deal for a limo from Garlic City limousine and we invited 10 friends to join us.  The first Winery we stopped at was Aver Family Winery followed by Martin Ranch, Solis and Sara Vineyards.

Our first stop was Aver Family. It always a pleasure to talk to John about hiswines. Aver Family had a band and they were pouring two of their wines; 2009 Family Album is a petite sirah blend, 2009 Hope is a Rhone style blend.  Hope is one of my favorites.  It has a fruity bouquet, flavors of black berry on the front, light tannins and a caramel finish.  If you like roses, you have to try theirs.

Our next stop was Martin Ranch.  Martin Ranch is only open on the third weekend of every month so, it was a treat to be able to taste some wines from their extensive list.    I favor red wines but I have to admit, their chardonnay got me all excited.  It is the perfect 50% from an oak barrel and 50% from a stainless steel barrel.  I bought a case of it.  I also liked their 2008 Sangiovese and J.D Hurley 2008 Zinfandel.  If you like Cabernet, they have six.  Ranging from their 2005 Estate Cabernet to the J.D Hurley 2008 Cabernet.  Martin Ranch wines are reasonably priced and a great value.

Solis WineryThen it was onto Solis.  Solis also has an extensive list of wines for sale.  Vic Vanni is one of the owners, along with his brother Michael, and he can usually be found around the winery and he is more than happy to talk to you about his wines.  They had a passport weekend special of a bottle of their 2007 Merlot and their 2009 Estate Sangiovese for $20.  That was a no brainer.  I stocked up.  If you like white wines, you will love their Fiano. Their Vino Roseo di Sangiovese 2011 is one of my favorites. For the passport weekend, they were serving sliders.  I paired that with their Sangiovese 2011 and it was delicious.  Solis wines are reasonably priced and a good addition to your wine closet.

Our last stop was Sarah’s Vineyard.  I enjoyed their 2010 Pinot Noir Estate.  It is a light Pinot that is good for drinking on its own.  They also poured their 2008 Cote de Madrone.  Being a Rhone blend fan, I enjoyed the blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre with a hint of tobacco on the finish.

If you have never visited any of the wineries in Santa Clara County, may I suggest you start with these four.  There are a dozen other wineries that we will be talking about later, to give you an idea of what to expect.  Such as, Thomas Kruse.  The only winery I ever visited that paid ME to wine taste.  Thomas Kruse is a legend in the Valley and he enjoys everyone that visits his winery.  Fortino’s.  Just a fun fun atmosphere  and enjoyable wines.  Bertha is awesome.

After your visit, send me an email and tell me what you thought.  Parting shout out to Ed, our driver from Garlic City Limousine.  Thank you Ed for hauling us around and lugging all of our wine purchases.



Correction…..and more

Sorry guys!! It’s the 08 Martin Ranch Merlot not the 07. I just opened a bottle and realized the error. So I’m sitting watching trash tv enjoying this wine! The smell is kind of a classic Merlot smell containing that capsaicin,spicy smell. The initial taste before you swallow is on the sweet side as you swallow you get the spice, capsaicin taste with a hint of green bell-peppers just like it smells but better because you get this initial sweet taste.

Passport Weekend

So, the only wine worth talking about was the 07 Martin Ranch Merlot. It was very tasty, easy to drink either alone or could be paired with food. The best part was we bought two bottles and when we got home we were missing one of them. I immediately emailed Martin Ranch and got a response within 24hrs and they were more than happy to ship us the missing bottle. However, there was a mix up and our friend accidentally got our bottle so I emailed them back letting them know no shipment was needed. So if you are the Gilroy area check out Martin Ranch……make sure you try their Merlot!!!!

Santa Clara Valley Passport Weekend

This weekend was passport weekend for the wineries in Santa Clara Valley. So that we could fully enjoy this experience Braxs rented a limousine bus and invited 10 of our closest friends to join us.

Our first stop was Aver Family Vineyards. This is a small family winery in the Gilroy area. They were pouring two selections for passport weekend both of which were Rhone varietals. The first tasting was their 2009 Family Album. This was a classic Rhône style wine with dark fruit flavors and some pepper flavors as well. This selection had quite a bit of tannins, more than I usually like but not overbearing. The second selection was their 2009 Hope. This was also a Rhone style blend that was very smooth with a lot of dark fruit flavors and was very well blended. Not a lot of tannins and a very clean finish.

The next stop was Martin Ranch. This was my first time to this winery which is quite a ways back in the hills of Western Gilroy in a beautiful location. They have quite a few varietals that they produce however today they were pouring a Sauvignon Blanc, a Merlot, a Syrah, a Cabernet, and a Zinfandel. The 2010 Sauvignon Blanc was our first tasting. It was a different Sauvignon Blanc then what I am used to (not big on Sauvignon Blanc) but this was very clean and had some mineral flavors that were very unique and well balanced. The next pouring was a 2008 Merlot. This was by far my favorite. You could taste a nice balance of cherries and dark chocolates with a very clean finish. The Cabernet was well-balanced but on the light side for a typical Cabernet. This Syrah was nice but did not have the classic smoke or pepper flavors that I usually associate with Syrah. The Zinfandel was very nice and had an almost velvety feeling on the tongue and a very clean finish. Braxs also decided to buy a bottle of the Chardonnay so that we could all have a taste. This was a very clean balanced Chardonnay that is aged in both oak and stainless steel and therefore does not have a lot of butter or oak, but was very easy to drink especially on a nice sunny day.

Our next stop was at Solis. Props go out to Solis winery for winning the ambience award. As usual the feeling here was very relaxed and friendly. They were pouring a 2009 Sangiovese and a 2007 Merlot. They also had sausage sliders that paired very well with both wines. The 2009 Sangiovese is a classic Sangiovese that is getting better each time I try it. It always takes me back to our trip to Italy. The 2007 Merlot is always a favorite with an exceptional balance of dark fruits and a very clean finish. They also had a barrel tasting of the 2011 Syrah. I enjoy doing a barrel tasting and tring to imagine what the final product will taste like after it completes its time in the barrel and bottle. This was a very fruit forward tasting that I’m sure will mellow with time and the classic pepper, smoke and leather flavors will become more prominent. While we were here I was also able to pick up another bottle of my all-time favorite wine their 2003 Syrah from the library collection.

Our final stop of the day was Sarah’s Vineyard, across from Solis. They were pouring a 2009 Chardonnay, a 2010 Pinot Noir, and the 2008 Cote de Madone. The 2010 Pinot Noir was a very light Pinot with good flavors that could pair nicely with something like fish tacos. The 2008 Cote de Madone was a Rhône style blend that had a very nice balance of dark fruit flavors and not too much tannins. It had a clean finish, but something was missing from it, I just can not put my finger on it.

Overall we all had a great time. The 2012 fall passport weekend for the wineries of Santa Clara Valley was an awesome experience. I do believe going on Sunday was a good decision as we did not experience large crowd set any of the vineyards we visited.