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Discover new local wineries during the spring 2016 Passport Weekend

For the first time in two years, all wineries along the wine trail will participate

Published in the March 2-15, 2016 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Alicia Cuadra

Alicia Cuadra

Alicia Cuadra

With spring approaching, the wineries of Santa Clara Valley are gearing up for their bi-annual Passport Weekend event March 19 and 20. The event, a self-guided wine tasting tour through the Morgan Hill, San Martin, Gilroy, and San Jose wineries, has grown into a popular tourist draw and boost to the local downtown areas.

The event has always garnered attention from local wine lovers, and those from around the Bay Area looking to discover new wineries. Last year, the Wineries of the Santa Clara Valley launched a new addition to the festivities: a Friday evening pouring event. It will be held March 18 at the Morgan Hill Grange Hall at 40 E. Fourth St.

This wine gala of sorts, in which wineries can showcase their wines to passport holders in a centralized location, allows patrons to sample local wines from participating wineries without trying to rush around the valley. This new addition is beneficial for wineries of all sizes; smaller wineries that might not have the facilities can still showcase their wines to passport holders, and larger wineries can entice visitors to visit their tasting rooms on the weekend.

Last year, a number of wineries opted to participate in the Friday special event, and this year some of them have decided to forego the weekend festivities all together. The addition of the Friday night gala has filled a void in winery participation in the event overall, and now wineries that had previously opted out of the festivities are taking advantage of the opportunity to still reach participants.

Passport Weekend has been a tremendous opportunity for new discoveries and growth to the local wine industry. Some of the newer wineries get their first opportunities for visitors and new wine club members during Passport Weekend, and the added exposure is a benefit for those just starting out.

This time, some wineries are pouring in their facilities and welcoming visitors the first time, such as La Vie Dansante in Gilroy, based in the old Thomas Kruse Winery (now called Blended,a Winemaker’s Studio). All three wineries located within Blended will be pouring at the facility for the first time, La Vie Dansante, Medeiros Family Wines, and TASS.

For the first time in two years all of the wineries along the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail are participating in either the Friday night pouring event, the full weekend festivities, or both. Many of the wineries are hosting bands with live music, providing food, or special discounts to passport holders.

By purchasing the passport, visitors gain access to the Friday night centralized tasting, which will be hosted at the Morgan Hill Grange Hall.
For more information about the events, visit SantaClaraWines.com.

Alicia Cuadra-Cutler is a certified Sommelier and also a Certified Specialist of Wine. She wrote this column for Morgan Hill Life.