Residents can shop with a glass of wine at Guglielmo, Morgan Hill Cellars

Published in the December 9 – 22, 2015 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Staff Report

Photo by Marty Cheek A customer browses in the 27th Holiday Faire gift boutique at Guglielmo Winery.

Photo by Marty Cheek
A customer browses in the 27th Holiday Faire gift boutique at Guglielmo Winery.

Many South Valley residents are discovering they can avoid the crowds and chaos of oversized retail shopping malls and enjoy an old-fashioned country Christmas by visiting the family-run holiday gift shops many South Valley wineries put on during the month of December. Two Morgan Hill wineries — Guglielmo Winery and Morgan Hill Cellars — have become especially popular for shoppers looking for a fun way to get unique presents.

Guglielmo is holding its 27th annual Holiday Faire, said Kimarie Manfre, retail purchasing manager for the 90-year-old family-run winery. The boutique is in the same building as its tasting room.

“Each year it changes a bit,” she said. “Now we have different themed areas such as we’ve got an angel area and a men’s sports area and we’ve got a cute little animal area and of course we’ve got to have a big wine tree.”

This year there is “lots of guy stuff” such as humorous decorative signs for the man cave and unique coffee mugs, she said.

The winery works hard to find a variety of gift items suitable for almost every taste.

“We’ve got lots of wine and wine related things,” Manfre said. “We have candles and wine glasses and great cooking books and all sorts of signs and art for the walls. We’ve got items from the whimsical to the very elegant.”

Many of the items come from the Bay Area region. Among the popular items are carefully-crafted cheese boards made in Santa Cruz out of staves (the curved boards of the barrel). These can also serve as a fun table holder for Christmas ornaments. The Guglielmo Holiday Faire also offers gourmet food including a variety of chocolates as well as the locally popular Roxanne’s Biscotti.

“We have a good mix of prices from your super affordable to your high-end elegant prices,” Manfre said. “We try to have something for every taste, not just one style.”

During the weekdays, mostly women shop in the Guglielmo holiday boutique, but on weekends she sees more couples come in for a bit of wine-tasting as they browse.

“On the weekend, there are a lot of men in here,” Manfre said. “And later they come back and say, ‘My wife was here shopping,’ and they’ll ask us which jewelry was she looking at.”

Morgan Hill Cellars’s co-owner Maryclaire Sampognaro encourages people to stop by the winery’s tasting room on San Pedro Avenue for a country-setting Christmas shopping excursion. It’s a more relaxing experience shopping for gifts at local wineries instead of facing the parking madness and long lines at checkout counters at outlets stores and shopping malls, she said.

“You can shop and drink wine at the same time,” she said with a mischievous grin. “You can’t do that at Macy’s, but we encourage you to do that here.”

Among items at Morgan Hill Cellars gift shop are canvas “Christmas trees” that light up with LED lights. These can be hung on a wall for people who want to get festive but don’t want to deal with the hassle of putting up a real tree.

Among the more popular items are scented candles made out of the cut bottoms of recycled wine bottles. Also among the top sellers are hanging ornaments such as dragon flies and hummingbirds for the garden or an inside plant.

Among the comical holiday decorative wood signs are ones that read “What happens at the Christmas Party stays at the Christmas Party” and “It’s OK to Wine a Little.”

The winery also has its own private label of special flavor vinegars such as the black fig vinegar and a selection of Morgan Hill Cellars gourmet mustards such as Chardonnay Chipotle Mustard, Zinfandel Orange Mustard and Champagne Mustard.

Sampognaro invites people to bring their own picnic food and purchase a bottle of Morgan Hill Cellars and enjoy the view overlooking the vineyard.

“If the weather is nice, they can bring a lunch and sit on the patio and eat with a glass of wine and enjoy a nice afternoon,” she said.