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Taste great local wines straight out of the barrels

Super Barrel event slated for Feb. 6

Published in the February 3-16, 2016 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Staff Report

Jason Goelz discusses wine with Michelle McKay. Jason Stephens Winery recently purchased 378 acres. (Photo by Marty Cheek)

Jason Goelz discusses wine with Michelle McKay at Jason Stephens Winery.
Photo by Marty Cheek

The South Valley will have a truly super weekend Feb. 6 and 7. Super Bowl 50 on Sunday will have people from the region watch with the rest of the world the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos battle for the NFL championship. The day before the big game, many of the wineries of Santa Clara Valley will launch the inaugural “Super Barrel Saturday” with visitors discovering the pleasure of sampling wine straight out of the barrel.

“Seasoned wine lovers and newbies alike are invited to visit selected wineries along the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail, and be among the first to taste the newest vintages straight from the aging barrels,” said Kim Engelhardt of Lion Ranch Vineyards & Winery in San Martin and a spokesperson for the Wineries of Santa Clara Valley association.

For those not familiar with the experience, barrel tasting is just what the name implies; tasting wine straight out of the barrel, she said. Most red wines — and some white wines — are usually put into barrels to age a few months following the fall harvest. They remain in the barrels for anywhere from one to three years. During this time the flavors evolve, and the wood from the barrel infuses the wine with flavors of vanilla, baking spices, toast, and other nuances which add complexity to the finished product. The barrels also have the added bonus of allowing a tiny amount of oxidation, which can help the tannins in the wine soften and smooth out in preparation for bottling.

So what can visitors expect from barrel tasting on Super Barrel Sunday? Cindy Adams at Guglielmo Winery said, “Barrel tasting is fun because the wine still has the younger, fruity flavors that are very popular, especially to new wine drinkers.”

The barrel sampling provides only a taste of the final structure of the wine, Adams said.

“The wine’s flavor will change and become more nuanced, losing some of the fresh fruitiness once it completes the barrel aging process and goes into the bottle,” she said.

The nearly 30 wineries here in southern Santa Clara County are finally being recognized for the quality wines that so many put their hearts and souls into, Engelhardt said.

“This event is a wonderful opportunity to meet those winemakers, who are ready to share their wines, stories and a glass with you,” she said.
Wineries participating in Super Barrel Saturday are Guglielmo Winery, J. Lohr Vineyard & Wines (pouring at Lightheart Cellars), Kirigin Cellars, Lightheart Cellars, Morgan Hill Cellars, Solis, Sunlit Oaks, Creekview Vineyards, Martin Ranch, Medeiros Family Wines (pouring at Blended Wine Studios) and Rapazzini Winery. Tickets are $25 and available at any participating wineries or at eventbrite.com. Get more information at santaclarawines.com.