By TJ SCHLUNS/Staff writer
You can start your Highway 128 wine tasting adventure at the internationally acclaimed Berryessa Gap Vineyards. This family owned winery evolved from a grapevine rootstock nursery back in 1969 into the award-wining winery it is today with the teaming of entrepreneurs, famers, pioneers and immigrants. Berryessa Gap Winery was founded in 2002 by Dan Martinez of Winters, Davis winemaker Mike Anderson and Winters grower Santiago Moreno.
The German and Spanish influenced wines will please your taste buds, with varietals such as petite sirah, malbec, tempranillo, barbera, Coble Ranch, zinfandel, albariño, durif, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. (For further taste bud excitement, try the chocolate and cheeses pairings offered at tastings.)
Tastings are offered in two unique locations. You have the luxury of either a vineyard setting (27260 Highway 128) and/or a historic downtown (15 Main Street). For those travelling from afar, Winters has a local visual landmark in the rolling hills that can be seen for miles around, known as the Berryessa gap. Be sure to check out the great art at each location featuring local landscapes and artists.
The vineyard location encompasses sitting amongst the grapevines, listening to relaxing water features, chatting with fellow wine lovers and enjoying their delicious grape creations.
The newly remodeled tasting room and covered outdoor seating and events area can accommodate as many as 60 people. More expansions to this area will be underway in 2018, because the law that requires Berryessa Gap and the next-door Berryessa Brewery Co. patrons to be separated will be lifted. Tasting room manager Lynda Hinds thanked Assembly Member Cecilia Aguilar Curry, who sponsored the bill.
Winters’ historic district houses the second of two tasting rooms. This one-block district, centered on Main Street between Railroad Avenue and First Street, includes commercial buildings built between 1870s and 1912.
Berryessa Gap offers two wine club memberships, with no initiation fees: Traditions and Red Traditions. Traditions Wine Club members receive 12 bottles per year — three shipments of four with a mix of red and white wines. Those that opt for the Red Tradition Wine Club receive a case of different red wines, six bottles shipped four times per year.
Each membership includes a 15 percent discount on glasses and bottles of wine, a 25 percent discount on cases of wine, free admittance to select wine club events, discounts and pre-sale access to paid events, complimentary wine tasting for two, as well as priority access to club members only and small production wines.
To join the wine club, go to BerryessaGap.com.
Events and activities
Berryessa Gap supports local charities and will donate wine to fundraisers in their “Matching Gift Program.” They will match a donation of up to six purchased cases per year with a full case of matching wines or one of equal or lesser value.
On Jan. 21, Berryessa Gap will host the “Big Pots, Big Reds” event from 2-5 p.m. The event honors winemakers and grape growers, commemorating the Feast of Saint Vincent of Saragossa. Hinds says this event will feature “Big Pots” of “slow cooked lamb shanks in a rich tomato base, a beef bourguignon made with sirah, vegetarian chili, green salad and rustic bread, along with these hearty “Big Reds”: petite sirah, syrah, zinfandel, durif and The Coble.
The Bell Ringer Wine Club Appreciation Day (wine club members only) will be held in March. Winemaker Nicole Salengo will be the creator of the blends that will be voted upon by members. The blend that receives the most votes will be bottle in May and ready for members the following year. Lunch is included in this casual event.
Springtime in the Vineyard is held at the end of May or early June. This annual gathering celebrates the upcoming growing season and is held at Coble Ranch, featuring a picnic and music; white wines from the previous season are released. Coble Ranch’s iconic oak tree is estimated to be 300 years old and showcases the Berryessea gap landmark.