Few wine lovers know that the Morgan Hill area in Santa Clara County was long ago a California hotbed of vineyards and wineries. Prohibition and the Great Depression changed the winery landscape in Morgan Hill, but one of the few wineries that still exists from that era is Guglielmo Family Winery. Imagine that back then you could send a postcard to Guglielmo Family Winery and have your wine delivered to your home, restaurant, or place of business. It was jug wines then, four one-gallon jugs to a case. Amazingly, Guglielmo still delivers to a handful of customers. Today the Guglielmo Family Winery is one of 24 wineries revitalizing the wine industry in the Morgan Hill area and the Santa Clara wine appellation.
We have a connection to Morgan Hill; this is where our son and his family make their home. Whenever the opportunity strikes we visit them and perhaps take a side trip to a Morgan Hill winery. Last Thursday we visited Guglielmo Family Winery for the first time. Their location is directly across the street from Morgan Hill’s Live Oak High School, where prune orchards once flourished. Guglielmo has been in this same spot since it originated in 1925. Brothers George, Gary, and Gene Guglielmo, the third generation of family, are the team that runs the winery. George Guglielmo has been the winemaker and seven years ago added Alan DeWitt to the team as co-winemaker. The winery has shifted emphasis from the height of the jug wine business in the 60’s to their Reserve label of varietal wines. The goal is to make high-quality wines but keep them in the affordable price range of less than $20. We tasted several excellent wines, and our favorites were the Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and an interesting Rosé. The dry Rosé wine is called Rosatello and is made from Grignolino grapes. It is dry and flavorful, and immediately we thought what a fantastic choice this wine would make for our Thanksgiving dinner. It will go well with a variety of foods.
As we wandered around the winery, we spotted bins of fermenting grapes. Alan DeWitt explained to us that these grapes are Charbono. Have you heard of Charbono? Unlikely, but this varietal once was very popular in California. Now only a handful of wineries in California makes a Charbono. This will be the first try for Guglielmo, and we can’t wait to try this wine. We fell in love with this wine when we visited Argentina. This grape in Argentina is known as Bonarda. It is the number one varietal grown in Argentina. Yes, more so than Malbec.
If you are in the Morgan Hill area, stop by the Guglielmo Family Winery and experience the history of this wine region. It is just east of Highway 101 near the East Dunne exit. You’ll find the wines delightful and reasonably priced and the staff very welcoming.