Wines sizzle at Gilroy Garlic Festival

Satori Cellars volunteer Kora Anzellotti pours wine for a wine enthusiast during the 36th Annual Gilroy Garlic Festival.

Looking to catch some shade during Garlic Festival while sipping south Santa Clara County wines?
Gilroy Rotary Club’s top-netting fundraiser happening during the 36th Annual Gilroy Garlic Festival is in full sipping swing.
“It’s the experience: it’s in the glass, too,” said Kora Anzelotti, who showed up alongside her mother, Gina, to “play,” which in winery terms means, “volunteer to pour wines” for Satori Cellars.
Volunteers including Rotary Club members, winery owners and wine enthusiasts at-large made sure glasses were pouring to the tastebuds of a garlic-infused palate.
The Rizzo family hails from Fresno and put some finality to the question, what wines do you pair with garlic?
“All,” the family said in collective enthusiasm for a tradition that’s called their attendance for the past decade. This year the Rizzos skipped out on any driving by taking a shuttle from nearby Casa de Fruta.
Los Angeles resident Alicia Frye said she’s driven by the “Garlic Capital” sign numerous times along Highway 101. This year was the time to for an off-the-highway juncture to the shaded and misted wine tent.
“When you drive by it smells like garlic—it’s amazing,” Frye said.
According to Rich Freedman, past festival director, the wine tent raises upwards of $50,000-plus for Gilroy Rotary Club. It started 12 years ago, and volunteers work from Wednesday through Monday from set up to breakdown, said Ricardo Dinsmore, Rotarian.
In addition to nonprofit fundraising, the event also helps elevate the industry with an international audience.
Solis Winery owner Vic Vanni brought along a dry white, sweet red and dry red. Though pale in comparison to the 13 wines total the winery offers through its wine club and tasting room, giving a taste of what Santa Clara County winners have to offer also draws people to the tasting room for more.
“I think that during the last five years, the traction our region has been getting is really starting to take off,” Vanni said.
Many wineries hosted events concurrent with the 36th Annual Gilroy Garlic Festival. Teri Fortino of Fortino Winery said the venue drew large Friday night crowds for a concert.
Vickie Moody and Mike Ornduff, members of the Gilroy Tennis Club, were brimming with smiles after speaking to a South African couple.
“Everybody has a story, and they love to share it,” Ornduff said.
Nearby, Sunlit Oaks owner/winemaker John Grogan is a relative newbie to the Garlic Festival scene having launched his winery only about a year ago. Though an opportune time to showcase the winery’s gold-medal Consumer Wine Awards at Lodi sangiovese remains his to-go pourer, other varietals like moscato were drawing crowd attention, Grogan said.
“It’s invaluable as advertising,” Grogan said.
Curious what to pair with all that garlicky food around? Grogan recommends a wine that can “stand up to” its pungency, including robust reds.
Either way, it’s a great way to check out what Fortino dubbed many “staples of Gilroy” in the wine world.
Carlin Lozinsky came all of the way from western Canada to see her friend, native Gilroyan Stephanie Castillo. Hot off the garlic tasting track, the friends re-united under the wine tent for those staples.
“Garlic-arrific,” Lozinsky said.
Anyone interested in tasting wines under the shaded, misted tent have until the 4 p.m. closing time.
The 2014 Wineries of Santa Clara Valley pouring at this year’s 36th Annual Gilroy Garlic Festival include Casa de Fruta, Clos La Chance, Creekview Vineyards, Fortino Fortino Winery, Gugliemo Winery, Hecker Pass Winery, Kirigin Cellars, Lightheart Cellars, Martin Ranch, Morgan Hill Cellars, Rapazzini Winery, Sarah’s Vineyard, Satori Cellars, Solis Winery, Sunlit Oaks Winery, Sycamore Creek Vineyards, WildEye Winery and more.
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