Football and wine go hand in hand

Pat and Al DeRose (father and son) are partial owners and

Whether you’re rooting for the Patriots or the Giants, or just tuning in to watch the multi-million dollar commercials, you’ll no doubt be thinking about which wines to serve with your salty, spicy, cheesy Super Bowl snacks.

Champagne or other light sparkling wines go well with most snacks, especially cheesy nachos. A slightly sweet Riesling, Viognier or Gewürztraminer is a great counter-balance to spicy buffalo wings. For potato chips or veggies with a creamy dip, try an oaky Chardonnay. And fruity Zinfandel or other red blends are winners with pizza.

A great, value-priced Chardonnay is the Calina Chardonnay from Chile. The wine manager from Westside Market in Gilroy said they regularly sell out and customers anxiously inquire about the next shipment. The oaky, buttery flavors compare with much higher-priced Chardonnays on the market. This Chardonnay is a fantastic value at $7.99 and in addition to Westside Market, it can also be found at J.V. Liquors (Gilroy), Diaz Liquors (Hollister) and Windmill Market (San Juan Bautista). The Milias Restaurant also sells it by the glass.

My good friend, Barbara, told me about OZV Zinfandel, which is sold at Nob Hill for $8.99. It’s a fruity Zinfandel with flavors of blackberry jam, cherry and spice. Soft and smooth, it’s great to sip alone, but even better with pizza.

Local Winery Buzz

Along a 7-mile-long loop called The Wine Trail in Hollister is DeRose Vineyards – the oldest existing winery in California, dating back to 1851 and owned by the DeRose and Cedolini families.

The non-descript metal door leading to a cavernous warehouse belies the rich, bold wines made there. The first thing we noticed before taking a sip was the awe-inspiring handlebar moustache of Pat DeRose, a knowledgeable and friendly owner and one of the winemakers.

Al DeRose, Pat’s son, is also one of the winemakers and told me the winery’s story. Al’s great-uncle had moved from Italy to the United States and brought his winemaking traditions with him. As the family grew through marriages, the DeRose and Cedolini families moved to Hollister when they purchased the vineyards in 1988.

Al was a youngster in 1988, but was already interested in wine and the family business. Al picked grapes, drove tractors and learned everything he could about producing fine wine. Eventually, Al obtained his enology degree from Fresno State.

All of the DeRose vines are dry-farmed (watered only from rain), which produces smaller berries with intense flavors. Only native yeast that is naturally found in the air is used to ferment their wines. A gentle, hands-off philosophy means they don’t ever use pumps.

Their 50 acre vineyard includes rare varietals such as Alicante Bouschet, Rosa del Peru and Cabernet Pfeffer. In addition to their popular Zinfandels, bestsellers include the Hollywood Red (Zinfandel-based blend), Negrette (a rare varietal) and their Cabernet Franc, which is an exceptionally big, tannic wine.

Al travels to Chile to make his legendary Cabernet and Syrah, and to Argentina to make his extraordinary Malbec and sparkling wines. These wines are shipped and sold around the world, including in the tasting room.

Mark your calendar for the first Saturday of each month to visit the vineyard’s vintage car museum, which includes Grahams, Model T’s and Lincolns dating back to the 1920’s. And you won’t want to miss the Spanish wine-tasting event from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 11. This event includes Al’s authentic, homemade paella, Spanish cheeses and wine – all for $25 per person. See you there!

Join in my Affordable Wine and Cheese class, through the Gavilan College Community Education program. The class will be held from 2 to 4:15 p.m. March 3 and April 12 at The Milias Restaurant in Gilroy. Cost is $39 + $20 material fee. Register online at or by phone at (408) 852-2801.


Spread a small amount of garlic-seasoned cream cheese on a sliceof salami and top with a small slice of pepperoncini pepper. Rollup and secure with a toothpick.

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