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There seems to be a mascot  for every winery I hit these days. There is the typical winery cat that lounges around outside the tasting room and adminently avoids the buzzed patrons that try to pet the “kitty kitty”. Then, there is the vineyard dog that usually is, more often than not, happy to greet guests and looks as confident running through the vines as the winemaker himself.

At Eberle Winery, a bronze boar greets each guests with the promise of luck if you drop a coin into the Eberle or “small boar” fountain.  As my boyfriend Joe and I walked in, we made sure to plop a quarter into the fountain and say hello to this bronze beast.  But as we soon discovered, Eberle Winery certainly does not need the luck of the boar to appease its vistors. The vast selection and quality of wine here alone is worthy of a stop.

As we entered the Redwood building housing the tasting room, I was glad to find a casual tasting room counter and pleasantly surprised to find a complimentary tasting that allowed six tastings from a list of 15 different wines!  My experience has been that in most cases a winery not specializing in a few varietals usually means that most will not be great. This was not the case with Eberle Winery. Almost all their wines had something complex or flavorful to enjoy.

2007 was a standout and some of my favorites were the 2007 Sangiovese, 2007 Zinfandel, 2007 Syrah Steinbeck Vineyard and the 2007 Vineyard Selection Cabernet Sauvignon.  The Sangiovese surprised with a full bodied burst of spice, cherry, raspberry, and licorice.  The Zinfandel was earthy with rich color and ripe blackberry flavor.  The Vineyard Cabernet was another winner, with wild berry flavors and a good tannic finish. The Vineyard Cabernet is a great pick if you have the time to age it a bit. At $19 a bottle it is a real deal!  The Syrah had a rich bouquet of blueberry, cherry, oak, vanilla, and pepper. Another great one for aging. Before leaving, the wine room respresentative spoiled us by pouring a reserve 2003 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon that would have been a sin to not drink to the last drop.

With the exception of the 2003 Cabernet at $75 a bottle,  all of the wines we tasted were $25 or less. This is less than you’d expect to pay in other regions like Napa or Sonoma.  Look for Eberle wines at your local wine shop or some select grocery stores. We were told often times they carry them.

Eberle Winery is open to the public from September-March from 10a.m.-5p.m. and 10a.m.-6:00p.m. April-August. There is a scenic deck overlooking the Estate Vineyard. Private tours of the winery and wine caves by appointment.

Happy Wine Trekking!

Seeking a wine bar to write about on Saturday afternoon, my girlfriend suggested Vintage Wine Bar located in Santana Row in San Jose. Suited for people watching, the Vintage Wine Bar is located amongst trendy restaurants and shops. The Wine Bar is small with only outdoor patio seating.

The menu consisted of a good variety of international wines with an emphasis on California wines. My personality is to always see what others are having and then say to myself, Huh, I should have ordered that.  But, in the world of wine, you live and you learn.

I ordered a flight of three tastes; a 2006 Mitarte Rioja from Spain, a 2007 Chateau Tanunda Shiraz from Australia, and last a 2007 Le Roc des Anges Cotes du Rousillon. Out of all three, I enjoyed sipping the Rioja the most for it’s fruitiness and rich red berry flavor and hint of spice. The Shiraz has some added mineral elements that I liked, but fell only slightly higher than a bargain house red I could find anywhere. The Cotes du Rousillon grew on me after letting it sip for a few moments and then trying it again. It definitely brought it much more complexity and floral hints once I appreciated and gave it a chance.

If you are in the area and looking to try a wine bar, I would rate Vintage Wine Bar on a scale of 1-10 at about a 6. The location is great for sitting and people watching, but the wine and the service is not as good as other places.

Photo by Joe Ercoli at

Happy Wine Hunting!

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