Posts Tagged ‘Gilroy’

Stay Rad Wine Blog TV Episode 125: Taking My Time with Food and Wine

December 22, 2013

In this episode, Jeff takes his time in analyzing these two fine samples from Cornerstone Cellars. Get yourself a nice bottle of wine, and a big plate of food, before you watch this one… This one may take a while.

Wine Tasted:


Cornerstone Cellars 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon


Cornerstone Cellars 2010 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

Food Pairing:


The Big Roy featuring Roasted Garlic, Bacon, Pepper Jack, and Garlic Aioli with a side of Fries, House Ketchup, and Chipotle Ketchup from Cafe 152 Burger in Gilroy

Wine Samples provided by Cornerstone Cellars.

Stay Rad,


What’s your take on the Cabs of Napa Valley, Howell Mountain, and Cornerstone Cellars? Leave a comment, and let us know.


I’ve got my Passport. How ’bout you?

March 25, 2012

Kara and I have lived in Morgan Hill for almost three years now.  It’s a neat little city of thirty thousand folks that borders San Jose to the South along Highway 101.  Having lived among the million or so people in San Jose for the better part of my adult life, at first it was a strange transition to the small town feel of Morgan Hill.

At times, I miss that big city life.

This is not one of those times.

This, my friends, is Santa Clara Valley Passport Weekend.

Two weekends (the last of March and the first of October) every year, 24 Wineries of the Santa Clara Valley open their cellar doors and some of their barrels to the public.  For thirty bucks, you get a glass and a passport that allows you to taste wine from each of the participants.  One passport is good for both the Fall and Spring weekends.

The Southern Santa Clara Valley (where most of these wineries are found) is a relatively warm climate compared to the rest of the Bay Area.  As hot as it can get during the day, nighttime gets pretty cold in a hurry.  In general, this is a place where Rhone varietals (like Syrah and Grenache) can flourish, but you will find pockets where Bordeaux and Burgundy grapes show very nicely.

As with any wine region, there are a few turds sprinkled in with some gems.

On Saturday, we hit up our fair share of each category.

Without further ado… the bad, the great, and the fantastic!

Morgan Hill Cellars:

We got started tasting a bit early on Saturday.  Though most tasting rooms opened at 10:00 am, many of the wineries weren’t going to bring out their passport specials until 11:00.  Since we had some time to kill, I figured we’d head over to Morgan Hill Cellars.

Unless you like fruit wine (their specialty), you should not go there.


Morgan Hill Cellars 2007 Sauvignon Blanc

Sure, the Sauvignon Blanc was okay…


La Fenice 1997 Sangiovese

And their 1997 Sangiovese is both old and nasty…

But I am never a fan of wineries that don’t use oak on anything, and tell you it’s so they can have more control over the flavor of the wine.  That is a line of B.S.  The reality is that steel is cheaper than oak.  If they cared about making a quality product, they would never say no to oak across the board.  Never.

I really wish they put more effort into making good red wines, instead of mixing in blackberries or cherries with their Bordeaux grapes.

Guglielmo Winery:

Now, this is my jam!


The Barn at Guglielmo

By the time we arrived at Guglielmo (Gool-yell-mo) Winery, the passport festivities were in full effect.  These guys have been making wine in Morgan Hill since 1925… and it’s good.


A little Sangiovese

Along with some good wines, they gave each passport holder a bomb ass tri tip sandwich.  Lucky for me, Kara doesn’t eat red meat… I got two.

The highlight of Guglielmo was tasting two vintages of their Syrah…


Guglielmo 2008 Private Reserve Syrah from the bottle.


Guglielmo 2009 Private Reserve Syrah from the barrel.

Mann Cellars:

While driving through downtown Morgan Hill, we stopped by Rosy’s at the Beach where Mike Mann was pouring his wine.


The lineup

Although Mann Cellars does not have a tasting room, you will find their wine at most wine events in Santa Clara County.  You can also buy their stuff at their website.

The entire lineup of wine was very nice, and relatively inexpensive ($10-$20).  The highlights for me were the 2006 Merlot and the 2007 Malbec.  All wines are estate grown and worth a try.  Hit them up.

Clos La Chance:

Heading South off of Watsonville Road in San Martin is the beautiful Clos La Chance Winery.

Here’s a fun fact:  Kara and I got married at Clos La Chance in 2010.

The wine was beautiful too…


Clockwise from the top: My glass with a little bit of Clos La Chance 2008 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay, My passport, My pen, and the Clos La Chance tasting list.

I was really happy with their 2008 Estate Grenache, but the highlight for me was their Mountain High, Mountain Low 2009 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir.  As part of their cellar sale, this Pinot Noir is selling for $6 a bottle.  The wine is available online right now!  You know what to do.

Sycamore Creek Vineyards and Winery:

Sycamore Creek is at the beginning of Uvas Road just off of Watsonville Road in Morgan Hill.  I’ve got to say that the first time I ever visited them (about 4 years ago), I was not that impressed.  Now, however, I’ve got to say the winery is really putting out some quality Bordeaux varietals (including a great Petit Verdot).  I was hella stoked on their 2008 Mosaico (Bordeaux style red blend).


Sycamore Creek 2008 Mosaico Red Wine

Stoked to the hella!

Aver Family Vineyards:

I bit further South off of Watsonville Road is Aver Family Vineyards.  You know how I feel about this place (click here to be reminded).

This winery is everything that is right about the Santa Clara Valley.  Big, bright, and balanced estate fruit.  Though they do make some fantastic Cabernet Sauvignons, the focus of this family run vineyard is making amazing Rhones… like this one…


Aver Family (I forgot to check the vintage) Family Album Red Wine - Rhone Style Blend

Jason-Stephens Winery:

Just accross the street from Aver is Jason-Stephens Winery.  Kara and I are huge fans of this Gilroy spot that specializes in Bordeaux grapes.


A big ol' block of Cabernet Sauvignon outside of Jason-Stephens Winery.

They do also make a very legit Syrah…


Jason-Stephens 2007 Estate Syrah

And it looks like Kara and I aren’t alone in our fandom…


Folks getting stoked to the hella.

Sarah’s Vineyard:

Near the corner of Watsonville Road and Hecker Pass in Gilroy is Sarah’s Vineyard.  This is another place that you know I’ve been stoked on for a while (check it out).

I’m way into their reserved style of winemaking.  Nothing is over the top.  They just let the grapes speak for themselves.  This Grenache is a great example of that…


Sarah's Vineyard 2009 Grenache

Fortino Winery:

We finished up at Sarah’s Vineyard at 4:45 pm.  Since the passport events end at 5:00, we decided to swing by one last winery before dinner.

Fortunately, Fortino is right next door…


Fortino 2010 Black Muscat Blush

Unfortunately, they make horrible wine.  If you’d have read this post from a while back, you’d have already known this.

Fortunately, they did give us some pasta to make up for their crappy wine…


The payoff.

After a long day of tasting, spitting, and dumping… I needed a drink.

I needed something to take my mind off of how bad Fortino was, so we headed back to Huntington Station in Morgan Hill for dinner.


Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in a San Jose Sharks glass.


Boxcar Burger and Fries


I almost forgot how much I hated Fortino.

All in all, I was very happy with this round of the passport weekend.  I’m looking forward to trying more places come the fall.

I’ve got my passport.

How about you?

Stay Rad,


Where did everybody go? A lazy Sunday at Sarah’s Vineyard.

January 16, 2012

I know.  I know.

Sundays tend to be pretty quiet… for many a reason.

Fridays and Saturdays are meant for staying up late.  For going all out.

I get it.

Sundays are all about rest… recovery… relaxation.

You’ve got to recharge for the work week.

Sundays are meant for TV’s and burritos.

But not this Sunday.

Not in the middle of the weekend when we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Not when we have Monday off.

Not all of us.

Not most of us.

But many of us.

At least more than usual.

Not on a clear day in the mid sixties in the middle of January.

On days like this, you must go wine tasting.

You must.

How else are you going to celebrate life… That, and a Forty Niner victory.

So, when Kara and I showed up to Sarah’s Vineyard in Gilroy, I just had to wonder…


Where did everybody go? A lazy day at Sarah's Vineyard.

When we walked through the doors of the tasting room at Sarah’s Vineyard, we were shocked to discover that we were the only guests there.

At one o’clock.

On a Sunday.

During a three-day weekend.

When the wine is this good!

Here’s how it went down…

Sarah’s Vineyard 2010 Jour de Joie:

This is a very clean white Rhone blend of Roussanne, Marsanne, and Grenache Blanc.  Nice floral notes, with a touch of oak.  A bit oily, but in a good way.  Give it an 86+.

One thing that’s neat about the location of Sarah’s Vineyard is that straddles both the Santa Cruz Mountains and Santa Clara Valley appellations.  Both growing their own grapes, and sourcing from nearby vineyards, they have the ability to display the microclimatic influences of fruit that is grown just a few miles apart.  This is never more true when we were able to compare two of their current Chardonnays.

Sarah’s Vineyard 2009 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay:

This Chardonnay has some good red apple and asian pear fruit, rounded out by lemon-flavored acidity and custard.  A food-friendly wine that can stand on its own.  87+


Sarah's Vineyard 2009 Central Coast Chardonnay

Sarah’s Vineyard 2009 Central Coast Chardonnay:

In contrast with the Santa Cruz Mountains effort, this Central Coast Chardonnay is a citrus-driven wine.  Think grapefruit juice and orange zest.  There is a beautiful, creamy finish to this one.  Give it a solid 88.

Sarah’s Vineyard 2008 Cote de Madone:

A Silver Medal winner in the 2011 SF Chronicle Wine Competition, one could consider the Cote de Madone Rhone blend to be their flagship wine.  This blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignane, and Counoise brings a dark red to purple color to the glass.  There is a huge nose of cherry and leather.  The palate is loaded with dark fruit, spice, and a rich, meaty finish.  Good stuff!  89


Sarah's Vineyard 2007 Fifty Fifty

Sarah’s Vineyard 2007 Fifty Fifty:

Sometimes, you don’t have to over-complicate wine.  Sometimes you just do an even blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and let the fruit speak for itself.  This wine is simple.  This wine is reserved.  This wine has depth.  Cherries and blueberries up front give way to a long finish of leather and spice.  The subtle use of oak allows the Santa Clara Valley to speak to your palate.  My palate likes what it hears.  89+

Sarah’s Vineyard 2007 Santa Cruz Mountains Merlot:

A great nose of soil and chocolate.  The palate is dominated by juicy dark cherries and fine tannins.  A very nice cool-climate Merlot.  89

To finish off our flight, our server poured us something special…


Sarah's Vineyard 2007 Nuits d'Enfer... Yeah... It's special.


Say it with me... "New-Ee Dawn-Fair!"

Sarah’s Vineyard 2007 Nuits d’Enfer:

Have you ever “painted the town red”?  That’s what it means when a French dude talks about the “Nights of Hell” (the literal translation of Nuits d’Enfer).  This red wine is mainly Merlot, with a touch of Charbono and Cabernet Sauvignon.  There is a BIG hit of blue and black fruit on this nose.  On the palate, the wine is powdery fine with its tannic structure.  Good blueberry fruit gives way to tobacco and spice.  At 20 bucks, this is a great wine if you plan on tying one on… Or… if you just wanna taste something really good.  You should get this.  90+

We had a great time as Sarah’s Vineyards, and you will too.

Lazy Sundays be damned.

Stay Rad,


About last night…

August 14, 2011

Here’s the deal…

I told you yesterday that I was going to a party.

And I did.

Kara and I headed down to Gilroy to visit our friends, the Rockings, and have a good old-fashioned campout in their backyard.

They provided the food and beer.

Fat Tire and a Taco.

And of course…

I brought the wine.

Red Splash 2007 Red Wine by St. Francis

I picked up the Red Splash 2007 Red Wine for $9 at BevMo, because I wanted something simple.

Just a nice red wine.

The Red Splash did not disappoint.

Here’s the breakdown…

Color: Dark burgundy.  Almost purple.

Nose: The wine smells very oaky, with a little vanilla action.  The nose is also very hot.  You can smell the alcohol.  That’s not a good thing.  There is a nice red fruit component with hints of cranberry, raspberry, and cherries, but the alcohol distracts from it.

Taste: I like the taste of this one.  The body is medium to light for a Cabernet/Zinfandel based wine, but there are some nice lingering tannins that stick around for a while.  It’s got that cherry and cranberry fruit that I smelled earlier, along with some good oak.  There is a richness to this wine.  It made me want some cheese.

Score: This is a good wine.  It’s not trying to be anything but a red table wine.  I could imagine that this wine has the chops to pair with a variety of foods.  Pizza.  Steak.  Baked potato.  A light salad with goat cheese and walnuts.  This wine makes me hungry, and that’s what a table wine should do.  Give it an 86+.  Give it a try.

Here’s the thing about last night…

We had a blast.

But it did get a little crazy…

A good idea?

Stay Rad,


A fistful of wine. A mouthful of garlic.

August 1, 2011

This past Friday, Kara and I took a quick drive down to Gilroy to see what was going on at the Garlic Festival…

Apparently, a lot.  Check it out…

THE Gilroy Garlic on Fire!

A garlic calamari cooking demo w/ Angelo Sosa.

Up close and personal at Gourmet Alley.

Listening to okay music at an amazing amphitheater.

If you don’t know, Gilroy gets HOT in the summer.  Luckily, the Garlic Festival hosts a wine tent complete with water misters…

The wine tent. Don't mind if I do.

While chillin’ under the tent, I made sure to taste some of what the Santa Clara Valley has to offer.  Here’s the breakdown…

Sarah’s Vineyard 2008 Roussanne: Though with a bit more oak that I would have expected, the crisp acidity made this white the perfect starter to a hot day of wine tasting.

Creekview Vineyards 2008 VCR Merlot: A juicy cherry with wood.  Not bad, but not great.

Martin Ranch Winery 2006 JD Hurley Cabernet Sauvignon: Good red fruit with backbone.  A bit of black olive on the finish.  Very nice.

Satori Cellars 2007 Ha-Ha Petite Sirah: Inky red fruit and chocolate.  Okay.

Fortino Almond Champagne: This is the signature wine of the Santa Clara Valley.  There are quite a few wineries that make something like this.  Though artificial tasting, the almond flavor really rounds out this nice sparkling wine.

During the festival, I did take some time to enjoy the food… I mean… You’ve got to!

The garlic sausage sandwich was off the hook!  When they say garlic, they mean garlic.  Imagine a sausage just loaded with garlic inside of the meat.  Now let’s saute that sausage in a pan with garlic.  Put it on some garlic bread.  Now top it with 4 cloves of chopped and sautéed garlic.  Tasty, but man… My mouth was coated in garlicky goodness for the rest of the day.  Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.

When we got home, I opened up the wine fridge and pulled out this sucker…

Hess Collection 2005 19 Block Cuvee

Here’s the deal…

In 2008, Kara and I took a day trip up to Napa.  We used to make it a habit to stop by the Napa-Sonoma Wine Country Visitors Center just off of highway 29 coming into the Napa Valley.  It’s the perfect spot to stretch your legs just before you make your way to the wineries.  They have a small area for wine tasting, and will give you coupons and recommendations for some of the wineries in the area.

“Have you been to the Hess Collection?” the server asked us.


“Well you MUST go!”

So we did.

Hess is just a bit off of the beaten path, at the top of Mount Veeder.  Once you get there, you’ll be glad you took the trip.

Not only does Hess specialize in making tasty Bordeaux-style wines, but the tasting room is also home to an amazing art gallery.  I will never forget the room that looks like it’s full of giant pieces of dog poop.  I would have taken a picture, but they wont let you… It’s an art gallery thing.

The tasting itself was very nice.  We were just about ready to leave, when our server said to us, “You cannot leave here without trying the 19 Block Cuvee.”

So we did.

And it was good.

So we bought a bottle.

I’m not sure how much we paid for it in 2008, but the current release lists for $36 on the Hess website… So we’ll assume that’s what we paid.  At the time, that was the most we had ever paid for a wine.

So we held onto it… until this last Friday.  That’s over 3 years, if you’re counting.

So let’s talk about it…

One of my fears was that the older cork would crumble if I used a regular screw pull, so I used the Ah So to open this bottle.

The cork in the Ah So.

Next I decanted the wine for a quick 20 minutes…

Decanting on the kitchen cart.

I noticed quite a bit of sediment left in the bottle…

See! If you trusted me, I wouldn't have to show you this.

And now…

The Hess Collection 2005 19 Block Cuvee!

Artsy, but not fartsy.

The 19 Block Cuvee is named after the 19 selected blocks of grapes at the Hess Mount Veeder estate which make up this wine.  It’s made from 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah, 9% Malbec, 5% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Vedot.

Color: Deep purple.  Inky.  Almost black.

Nose: Black cherry.  Anise.  Mint.  Wood.  Plum.

Taste: I’m really glad that we opened this wine up on a whim, because it tasted like this wine has reached its peak.  This wine is all about mouthfeel and subtlety.  It’s got these smoothed out tannins that I would not have gotten if I’d have opened it 3 years ago.  It is silky, with hints of lacquered wood.  The fruit has nearly dropped out completely from this wine, but there is a bit of dried cherry skin and chocolate on the finish.

Score: This was an interesting experience.  This wine was very refined.  I felt important while drinking it.  The one thing I felt the 19 Block missed was some sort of creaminess to round it out.  I’m giving it a 90+, but I’m sure it would have been amazing with some vanilla ice cream.

One does have to wonder…

Would my tasting notes be different if I hadn’t eaten a grip of garlic earlier that day?

The world may never know.

Stay Rad,


Bundled up in Gilrory. Music by Naked in Vegas.

June 18, 2011

Sarah's Vineyard is in Gilroy... but not really.

On Friday, Kara and I decided to head over to Sarah’s Vineyard in Gilroy.  Sarah’s is a small winery, tucked into the Santa Cruz Mountains.  The breezy climate makes it perfect for Burgundian and Rhone varietals.  I am a big fan of their light style of wine making.

The reason for the trip was to attend their Summer Music Series.  They have a neat patio and lawn area where different local bands will come to play.  The tasting room stays open late to sell their wines by the bottle to enjoy with the music.  You can bring your own picnic, or buy something to eat from whichever catering company is there (it changes from week to week).

Kara and I brought homemade Brie Paninis with Mango Chutney, Turkey (for me), and Spinach.  We also bought a bottle of the Sarah’s Vineyard 2006 Central Coast Pinot Noir for $15.

Sarah's Vineyard 2006 Central Coast Pinot Noir and Kara's foot 2011.

Color:  This Pinot had a cloudy dull red color.  You could recreate that color by mashing a bunch of over-ripe roma tomatoes into a paste and adding water and a pinch of dirt.  I know that doesn’t sound very appetizing, but I must say it looked fantastic.  See…

Tomatoes and Dirt and Awesome!

Nose:  There was a nice whiff of smoke, butter, and pepper.  As I took a bit more in, I noticed a rubbery cola aroma.  Nice!

Taste:  This Pinot Noir had a very meaty and buttery taste on the palate, rounded out with a touch of cherry cola.  On the finish, a touch of cranberry and walnuts became present.

I really liked this wine.  I also appreciate that Sarah’s did not jack up their prices for the event.  I give it a solid 87.

As the sun began to set, the wind really started to pick up. It got hella cold, hella quick.  The cover band, Naked in Vegas, was alright.  They were not, however, good enough to keep our cold asses at the vineyard after we had finished our bottle of Pinot Noir.

Naked in Vegas? More like bundled up in Gilroy!

Don’t worry, Sarah’s Vineyard, we will be back.

Stay Rad,


This wine makes me want food… Now!

June 12, 2011

Setting the mood: I have this tempranillo decanting in two huge wine glasses. The candle is for show. It will not be lit.

There are a few advantages to having summers off.  One such advantage is having a ridiculous amount of time to kill.

The other day, I spent almost two hours at the Gilroy BevMo just looking at wine.  Scoping the labels.  Reading the blurbs.  Scouting for deals.

A “deal” is NOT the same as a “sale”.

They are having their 5 cent sale right now.  It’s a scam that will be discussed on another day.

By deal, I’m talking about value.  A Rad wine at an equally Rad (if not Radder) price.  With so much time on my hands, I found that the best deals (on paper) were in the Spain, Chile, and Argentina sections.  I came across hella wines that were highly rated by the Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (Not Wilfred Wong!  Again… will discuss on another day) that were in the 10 to 20 dollar range.

From that BevMo adventure, I ended up buying 3 bottles of wine.  Of the bottles, the one that I am the most excited to taste is this bad boy…

The Mas Que Vinos 2007 Ercavio Tempranillo Roble cost me $10.99 and was given a 90+ rating by Robert Parker.  Now, Gary Vaynerchuk would tell me to trust my own palate, but I must say that my palate usually agrees with that of Robert Parker.  For 11 bucks, why not try it?

Now, it’s time to taste…

Mas Que Vinos Ercavio Tempranillo Roble 2007

Those smudges on the label are not supposed to be there. I'm that messy.

Color:  This wine is a DARK ruby.  There is a not quite rusty rose color along the outer edge of the glass.

Nose:  One sniff of this tempranillo filled my mouth with cocoa powder.  You know how you’ll be opening a packet of instant cocoa and a cloud of powder wafts up to your nose?  THAT kind of cocoa powder.  The chalkiness of the nose also reminds me of opening the box for a new bicycle tube.  There is a green component to this wine as well.  Slightly minty.  A little like fresh lettuce from the garden.  There is a deep note of plum.

Taste:  I don’t want this to throw you off.  My first thought in drinking this wine was of a grapefruit.  Imagine that tart citrus component of a grapefruit.  Now take away the mouth-puckering sour aspect.  I guess I’d call it essence of grapefruit.

Now, take that grapefruit and dip it in chocolate.  Delicious!

There is a lingering acidity.  A little lime.  There are some nice soft tannins that tell me this is as good as this wine is going to get.

This wine is a solid, confident, beast…

This wine makes me want food… Now!  I want tacos.  I want burgers.  Bruschetta.  Cheese.  It is extremely versatile.

After my initial taste, I jumped up to raid the fridge.  My initial thought was to grab some cheese.  Since I was thinking about tacos, I grabbed some hard cotija cheese from Mexico (Literally!  I flew down to Mexico just now to get this cheese).

While I was cutting the cheese (Childish joke.  Though not intended… appreciated!)  My mouth began to water with this flavor of caramel and chocolate (Rollos anyone?), so I grabbed some strawberries.

The saltiness of the cotija paired very well with the acidity of the wine.  The strawberries did a great job of stepping up those chocolate notes.

This wine is a solid, food friendly, mo fo.

Considering that this is my first official review for this blog, I had a tough time scoring this wine.  I must tell you that I loved it.  You must also know that I doubt it has the structure to last another two years in the cellar.  All I’m thinking right now, however, is that I want to go buy a whole case right now.  I want to drink this wine with as many different food pairings as I can.  It is THAT good.  But… I’ve had better.  But… It’s only 11 bucks.

I’ve got to tell you, I could not have asked for a better wine to score first for you.  This is THE threshold for me.  I’m giving it 90 points, and I’m telling you that you MUST try this.

Rubbery, synthetic cork. Chocolaty, authentic wine.

Stay Rad,


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