northern california renaissance faire

    In the air

    Unpretentious wine tasting

    RELAXED SETTING Mike and Maryclaire Sampognaro, owners of Morgan Hill Cellars, create a comfortable, fun space in their winery. Photo: Bev Stenehjem

    At 104 years, Morgan Hill Cellars is the oldest winery in our Santa Clara Valley wine region. I stopped in to say hello to Maryclaire and Mike Sampognaro, high tech retirees and owners of the winery to see what was new since my last visit.

    Maryclaire started me off with their top seller, the Blackberry Merlot ($18). A proprietary blend of blackberry fruit wine and merlot, there is a ton of sweet blackberry up front, immediately giving way to a nice, dry merlot finish. Many people, who normally shy away from reds, will enjoy this wine.

    Next, I sampled their 2014 Fiano ($20), a dry, white Italian varietal with an intoxicating floral bouquet. Delicate flavors of pear, hazelnuts and honey finish off satiny smooth.

    The full-bodied 2013 Merlot ($22) is a deep ruby red in the glass. Tasting of black plum and currant with soft tannins of leather and a touch of oak, it is a beauty of a wine that satisfies all the senses.

    The tasting menu is extensive; offering zinfandel, riesling, chardonnay, petite sirah and an array of fruit wines and port.

    A pet-friendly winery—especially for the several cats that stop in to get their ears scratched—Morgan Hill Cellars offers a comfortable, unpretentious experience. I agreed with Maryclaire’s observation when she said, “People can feel it in the air as soon as they walk in—they can sample our wines in a relaxed setting, taking their time and having fun.”