Morgan Hill Brew Crawl

Morgan Hill downtown association

Morgan Hill downtown association

When I’m not drinking wine, I like to fill my glass with a good beer or tequila.  Saturday September 14th was the Morgan Hill brew  crawl.  There were 22 breweries pouring for this sold out event.  I met up with some of my beer enthusiast friends and spent a beautiful day beer tasting.  If you are a fan of craft beers, IPA’s, pale ales and double bocks, I highly recommend this event.



Personally I am a fan of largers, pilsners and ales.  My favorites were Spaten, Stella Artois, Red Tail and Mendocino Brewing Company.  Unfortunately we were not able to get to all 22 before time ran out.  We took our time and enjoyed the event.





If you are not familiar with Morgan Hill, I invite you to check out  The Taste of Morgan Hill September 28th and 29th.


brew festival

Letdown from the Ridge

Letdown: verb; to fall short in satisfying the expectation or hope of.disappointed1

With much anticipation the FTF finally carved out an afternoon to visit Ridge Winery in Cupertino. Why we have waited this long to visit one of the most famous wineries in this area is beyond explanation. Ridge consistently gets great reviews and their flagship wine, Monte Bello, gets recognition around the world. In fact it was recently chosen to be served at a private dinner for President Obama and a national dignitary. I think this is what finally pushed us to take the challenging drive up to Ridge to visit their renown tasting room. Unfortunately what we experienced was a letdown (see above). I do not know if my taste buds are just not refined enough, or if my tongue got up on the wrong side of the bed, but the big WOW that we were expecting was not there. I am in no way saying the wine was bad. It was good, just not what we were expecting. We only tasted the reds, so my comments are intended only for them. What you will not get at Ridge is big, no big fruit in the zin, no big tannins in the cabs, and I am not saying that is bad. The wines are all soft and complex with multiple different flavors from front to finish but they all tasted somewhat similar. Maybe I had set myself up, but this is not what I was expecting. That said, now that I do know what to expect, I am more than willing to give it another go. Who knows, some things are better on the second tasting. Tune in next time……….

Second Chances

Three years ago I participated in my first Santa Clara Valley Wine Passport Weekend.  We visited a few wineries, one being Sarah’s Vineyard.  The young ladies pouring that day must have been tired of the numerous participants trampling through their tasting room staying only long enough to finish their tasting.  When my little group approached the counter, we were greeted with snarls and exasperation.  Not a good way to start off.  I admit we arrived 30 minutes before closing.  They were only pouring three wines so I believed we had plenty of time for the tasting.  The crowd was thinning out and only my group remained at the counter.  We waited.  We waited patiently.  We were finally approached by a young lady that requested to see our passports.  She stamped them and poured our first tasting.  I”m not sure if it was my first impression of the tasting room or the wine but I was not a fan of wine.  I have not been back since.  Fast forward to the present.

A friend invited me to go to Solis with her to pick up her club shipment.  I’m not one to pass up an opportunity to taste Solis wines.  While standing at the tasting counter, another wine enthusiast told us he had just come from Sarah’s Vineyard and he really liked their wines.  I was surprised to hear that.  I just assumed everyone had the same experience I did.  After listening to him talk about their Rhone blends I was intrigued.   So off we went. But not without apprehension.

I opened the door to the tasting room and the first thing I heard was, “Hi guys, come on in.”  We followed the voice and that was when we met Megan.  A big smile and as sweet as can be.  She introduced the wines to us and asked us where we wanted to start.  Megan is a Sommelier and very knowledgable about their wines and wines in general.  I really enjoyed their wines and we had some great conversation with Megan.  So here is to second chances.  I am now a Sarah’s Vineyard wine club member.




Solis wine and cheese weekend

Not sure how, but Vic and Michael at solis winery dialed up another perfect weekend weather wise for thier wine and c


heese pairing event. With the sun shining and Mike Bastian’s Pentimento Jazz trio playing smooth jazz, the event could not have been planned any better. Paired with cheese from The Cheese Shop in Carmel (yes, our favorite) the 09 Chardonnay, 08 Cara Mia, 08 Cabernet and 11 Vino Roseo were outstanding. And not to be out done, the final pairing of Port with cheesecake was perfection. My only regret was that it had to end. Hats off to Solis for pulling off another great event.


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.