The Almaden Winery Neighborhood of San Jose

The Almaden Winery neighborhood, just off Blossom Hill Road in San Jose, has a rich and interesting past, dating back to the mid 1850s when the site was first planted with grape vines.  It was the first winery in Almaden Valley and one of the oldest in the state of California.  (It survived the prohibition period by getting licensed to make sacramental wine and by bottling grape juice.)

In this post I’ll share some photos of the neighborhood with you, explain about the three different builders/developers and show you where to find each one.

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Miramar Vineyards in San Martin

Miramar Vineyards in San Martin sign - 700 pxRecently, my husband and I took a drive to San Martin to visit Miramar Vineyards. We hadn’t spent any time in San Martin in the past, but were generally aware that this South County community was located between Morgan Hill and Gilroy, so were interested in learning a bit more about the area, as well as enjoying some local wines at a place we hadn’t been to in the past.

It was a great choice!

Miramar was a hub of activity, apparently due to live music that was about to begin when we arrived. The folks there told me that they’d only been open two and one-half years so far, but you would not have known it from the crowd that day. The parking lot was nearly full and cars lined the road, too. Like finding a filled-to-the-brim restaurant with people waiting outside, we thought this might be a good sign.

 

buying wine and paying for wine tasting at Miramar

 

We didn’t wait long to get paid up so that we could do some tasting. The staff moved quickly, assisting customers who were there to buy wine or to pay for wine tasting. They reminded us that if we purchased a bottle of wine, one of the $10 tasting fees would be waived.  (more…)

Wine Tasting in Saratoga

Uncorked wine tasting in Saratoga CASaratoga has become a great place to go wine tasting.  Until just a few years ago, there were vineyards and wineries in and near to Saratoga, but no tasting rooms for many years, so oenophiles were out of luck if they wanted to wine taste in Saratoga.  Luckily, a trend is underway and tasting venues have been on the rise.  Today I’ll review for  you five of the places I’ve visited and enjoyed.  Three of them are right in Saratoga Village and a few more are not too far away. All have seating of some kind, either outside or in, and all of them have friendly, knowledgeable staff in my experience.

In Saratoga’s downtown Village you’ll find Cinnabar, Big Basin Vineyards and also Uncorked!, a wine bar (showcasing many wines from many vintners).  A little further out you can taste at Savannah-Chanelle and Cooper-Garrod. I’ll discuss each of them in this post.

Cinnabar opened a tasting room in Saratoga Village about 3 years ago and we finally paid it a visit yesterday (Labor Day).  Cinnabar’s chardonnay has long been one of my very favorites, so I was looking forward to sampling that and several other offerings.

The tasting room was positively hopping when Jim and I stopped in. Malcolm poured for us and educated us on the wines.  Luckily he wasn’t working alone so had plenty of time to tell us about what we were trying, about the wine club, events and more.  Cinnabar has two “flight” options, one at $5 (four wines) and one at $10 (5 wines) per person – please see their website for info on those.  Also, Cinnabar has a nicely done Saratoga visitors guide on their website – check it out!

The setting is very inviting, with a  unique gift shop and tables outside too – you can purchase “wine by the glass” and sip it outdoors, watching the activity on Big Basin Way.   This month (Sept 2010) Cinnabar also has Friday Evening Music on the Patio from 5:30 – 7:00pm.  Make it a first stop on your way to dinner in town!

Cinnabar Winery Tasting Room
14612 Big Basin Way
Tel. 408 867-1012
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