Monte Verde Vineyards is small family-run winery in Santa Clara Valley. Winemakers Todd and Alexia Johnson started with 300 Merlot vines planted in 2000; growing to a hobby in 2003; and on to a passion in 2006 as they continued planting over 1300 vines, adding Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo; and culminating as a award-winning winery in 2008. The first release was only a little over a year ago and they only produce 300 cases per year. Yet, they already are winning awards for their wines. Not too bad for a backyard (albeit big backyard) operation!
As you can expect for a winery this size, every wine is truly hand-crafted. The grapes are specially selected and fermented in small lots based on vineyard designation. While caring for their three children, Alexia is also the primary winemaker, producing the wines with the care necessary to preserve the unique character of their vineyard. Only French oak is use, producing wines with balance and great quality.
Todd continues in his day job and cares for the vines in this organic dry-farmed vineyard. The area features excellent climate for their wines. Backed up by the Santa Cruz Mountains, they have the typical hot Morgan Hill days, but the mountains provide the cool nighttime temperatures to allow the vines to rest.
They have recently completed a new winery building with a tasting room for special events. The primary tasting room continues to be an outdoor affair opened every third Saturday of the month. Here you will not only have a chance to meet the Johnson family, but also the friends who are an important asset to this family winery.
The Monte Verde 2008 Albarino from Las Cerezas Vineyard in Lodi, one of their few wines not grown on their estate and just released in May; is a perfect summer wine with tart acidity, and delicate aromas of honeysuckle, lemon peel and citrus blossoms. There is a touch of sweetness in the mouth and a bright lean finish. This wine is a perfect match for shrimp or crab, especially served chilled outdoors in a summer evening.
The 2006 Villa Palma Vineyards Merlot from Central Coast is a bronze medal winner from the San Francisco Chronicle. This dark medium bodied wine is bursting with dark cherry and blackberry flavors with medium levels of tannin and a touch of spice, including clove and cinnamon. It is a very versatile wine that can be paired with everything from flank steak, roast chicken or a good bacon cheeseburger.
Monte Verde’s 2006 Syrah from nearby Murabito Family Vineyards captured a silver medal from the San Francisco Chronicle and has an intense nose of pepper, raspberry and blackberry followed by a round full-bodied mouth feel with a ripe long finish. Try this wine this weekend with a spicy pizza or red meat with herb sauces.
The final wine tasted was the 2007 Amistad, a Santa Clara Valley blend of Syrah (52%), Merlot (39%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (9%). It has an intense nose of dark fruit and pepper. On the palate you will experience dark cherry, raspberry, blackberry, cassis and pepper with a touch of chocolate and clove. The long finish is balanced and well-rounded. This rich wine will go well with a steak that has a touch of spice and herb in the sauce.
You will enjoy a visit with Monte Verde at their outdoor gazebo under the large oaks in front of the winemakers’ home. Most likely the winemakers themselves will be there to greet you and entice you with their fine wines and pairings with various cheeses, nuts and fruits. You will find Monte Verde on Sycamore Drive off Watsonville road just a short distance north at the Uvas Road junction. The winery will be to your left about ½ mile down Sycamore Drive.
For more info: Monte Verde Vineyards