New poster contest, arts and crafts vendors enhance stroll

Published in the April 13-26, 2016 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Staff Report

Morgan Hill file photo  Morgan Hill friends Joan Ensign and Patricia Kindred take a moment for a fun photo opportunity during the 2015 downtown Wine Stroll.

Morgan Hill file photo
Morgan Hill friends Joan Ensign and Patricia Kindred take a moment for a fun photo opportunity during the 2015 downtown Wine Stroll.

Major changes in this year’s Wine Week will make it bigger and better than ever, promises the Morgan Hill Downtown Association which organizes the annual spring time event.

The event celebrating local wine and fine dining will be held April 24 to 30 in various restaurants and stores in downtown Morgan Hill. The highlights include wine-food pairings at various restaurants, a wine lovers mixer at GVA Cafe Monday April 25, and the popular Wine Stroll Saturday April 30.

“The Wine Stroll has been so successful and so well organized that really we’re trying to tweak a really good plan,” said MHDA Interim President John McKay.

This year’s stroll will have 24 local wineries pour premium wines, the most the event has ever hosted. Ticket sales will be kept to a cap of 1,000 to make sure that the downtown does not become too crowded, he said.

The downtown association worked hard over the past few months with the Wineries of Santa Clara Valley group to make sure the quality of the event becomes one where people come to enjoy and learn about the region’s wineries and not simply turn into a street-long drinking binge, McKay said.

“We have a very strong relationship with the wine association, which is actually one of the sponsors for the event,” he said. “There’s a strong sense of collaboration now and what the local wineries are starting to do is call it their Wine Stroll.”

A new committee for the Wine Week brainstormed about what could be done to add to the experience and came up with several ideas. Bringing more artistic creativity to the Wine Stroll, an idea was developed for a competition in which local artists create posters for the 2017 Wine Stroll. Ticket-holders for the 2016 stroll will get to vote on which one of five finalist posters they like the best. The Morgan Hill Art Gallery became involved with this competition, McKay said.

“It’ll give people a little something different to do,” he said.

The Wine Stroll will also close the eastern part of Third Street to traffic so that 12 to 18 booths of arts and craft vendors can be set up in the plaza in front of the newly built downtown garage for people to look at as they enjoy their glasses of wine, he said.

“We’re focusing on appropriate art,” McKay said. “And we’re also inviting flower vendors to come in.”

This year’s Wine Stroll will also have more music, with performers at various stations located in the downtown district.

New to this year’s Wine Week is an amateur winemaker education night April 26 at The Hill Bar & Grill.

“We live in that area where it seems every large house you drive by in a rural setting has several rows of grapevines. It turns out that these people are making wine,” McKay said. “There is a whole community of winemakers here, and what we want to do is invite 10 of them to let people get to know amateur winemakers.”

McKay hopes the event will help create an amateur winemaker club in the South County and make Morgan Hill “the epicenter” for amateur wine-making. The idea came from local restaurant owner Rosy Bergin.

“We hope to create an environment where people will want to meet, share their ideas and create an amateur winemaker competition later this year,” McKay said.

Many business have become active in Wine Week which has evolved this year to focus on food as much as vino, McKay said. Restaurants involved in food pairing special dinners are Odeum, Rosy’s at the Beach and Slims.

“It’s actually wine and food week because there are a lot of food and wine pairings at the restaurants, which is what people want to do with this week,” he said. “We’re trying to develop this premium brand and the premium brand is having really good local events. So when people come down to enjoy good food and wine, they’re excited and they go back and tell their friends.”

Tickets area available at