Although Chardonnay is the top wine sold in the United States, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, there are thousands of other varietals. In summer, I like to broaden my horizons and try something different from my winter staples.
With warmer weather and lighter foods, I enjoy chilled whites and roses. It’s a great adventure trying all the different varietals at our local wineries. Solis Winery makes a wonderful Fiano (rhymes with piano) with flavors of Meyer lemon and melon – pairing beautifully with delicate white fish or chicken picatta. Lightheart Cellars offers a unique Colombard with floral notes and flavors of apples and melons. Leal Vineyards makes my favorite Viognier – tasting of pineapple, grapefruit and green apple. Fernwood Cellars is one of the very few local wineries to produce a Riesling that is crisp with good acidity and a slight sweetness and pairs well with spicy Asian cuisine. Martin Ranch Winery produces an amazing rose which is a slightly fruity, dry wine made from 100 percent Cabernet Franc. It’s fantastic with grilled salmon, asparagus and light cheeses.
Local Winery Buzz
Morgan Hill Cigar and Wine Shop is a place where everybody knows your name. It’s also one of only five establishments in all of Northern California where you can enjoy a fine cigar and a glass of wine or beer – indoors.
The shop has become the “Cheers” of the West, according to Jeff Burrus, managing partner of the thriving business. It’s a friendly place where locals – as well as out-of-towners – go to relax, discuss the pressing issues of the day and enjoy the simple pleasures of a smoke and a libation. One of the last bastions for pleasure within a 150-mile radius, Jeff quips that they are a “one-stop shop for two of the three sins” – leaving us to only guess what the third might be.
The shop recently expanded its wine offerings to include all 22 wineries found in Morgan Hill, San Martin and Gilroy. So, on days or hours when wineries are not open to the public, Morgan Hill Cigar and Wine is open seven days a week. Winery owners are happy because their wines are more accessible and customers are happier still to have the option to purchase their favorite wines, either by the glass or by the bottle.
You can also find other fine wines, including Silver Oak, Isosceles, Stags Leap and Quintessa – making the shop the best wine retail outlet in Morgan Hill.
Morgan Hill Cigar and Wine also has the largest collection of premier cigars between San Jose and San Luis Obispo, including Arturo Fuente and other popular choices such as Monte Cristo, Romeo Y Julieta, Gurka and Macanudo. An 8×10 walk-in humidor is state-of-the-art and keeps the inventory at a perfect 70 percent humidity. The building’s $40,000, carbon-based air purification system with electro-static filters circulates and cleanses the air every three minutes.
Not just for men, several of the 14 partners are women and on any given day, many of the clientele are women. Whether alone or out with friends, women are not only welcomed, but also protected from any untoward behavior by the gallant “regulars.”
The partners joined the Santa Clara Valley Wine Association and are a welcome newcomer to the annual Wine Stroll and bi-annual Wine Passport Weekends. Wine tastings with our local wineries are held the first Tuesday and cigar tastings are held the third Wednesday of every month. Other events include poker nights and special wine, cigar and food pairings.
Stop in. You – and they – will be glad you came.
Grilled Bacon Jalapeno Wraps
6 fresh jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
12 slices bacon
Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat.
Spread cream cheese to fill jalapeno halves. Wrap with bacon. Secure with a toothpick.
Place on the grill, and cook until bacon is crispy.
– Friday, 6-9 p.m.: Jason-Stephens, with the rock band, Vital Signs and catering by Louisiana Territory.
– Saturday: Santa Cruz Wineries Passport $45. Call (408) 847-1947 for tickets.
– Saturday and Sunday: Creekview Vineyards, Martin Ranch Winery, Lightheart Cellars, Fernwood Cellars and Monte Verde Vineyards are all open for tastings.
– Every Sunday: Satori Cellars: In addition to their regular wine tastings, every Sunday from Noon–2 p.m. join them for mimosas, $7.
– Friday, Aug. 3: Clos LaChance: Wine Club pick-up party – car show, live music and three new releases.
– Sunday, Aug. 5: Hecker Pass Winery: Wine and Savory Snacks Pairing class. Hecker Pass wines, paired with marinated shrimp, truffled popcorn, salami and mini-meatballs in marinara. $39. Call (408) 930-6777 to sign up.