The author's new column will explore the award-winning wines of Santa Clara Valley and beyond. Contributed photo.

Hello, I’m John and I want to take you on a journey with me. Like you, I yell at the TV when my team is losing, hide wet eyes when a story turns sad, laugh when I shouldn’t, eat what I shouldn’t, and hate to admit I’m wrong. And I like my precious spare time to be well spent—I want to experience and enjoy life to its fullest.

One of the things high on my list of good times is exploring my city and local region in search of good food and drink, and I’m in luck. In the South Valley, we have great food options in our restaurants and shops that can provide fresh bounty from our farms, including vineyards.

John McKay

We have local wineries that excel at that transition from fruit hanging in a vineyard to a glass of award-winning wine right in front of you. We may dabble a bit in the food part here, but l’d like to focus on our local wines in what may just evolve into a regular dialogue. 

I’ve focused on learning about our local wine scene for over a decade now. The growing of grapes, the handling of their precious juice while aging, bottling what has blossomed into a wine worthy of our precious time, and understanding what exactly we’re tasting.

I pester our local wine makers as I try to understand their incredibly complex and subtle product, which has been refined for over 8,000 years. My sense is most local winemakers feel winemaking is an art fueled by their passion, built on a scientific base (that statement could elicit some argument).

As a person with great interest in wines and our local wineries, I’ve spent countless hours discussing and tasting wines and have come to this conclusion: I need to learn more about wine. I want to learn what it takes to make a great wine but I also want to understand why that statement can be so debatable.

Should wine be made the “old world way” or should it be the “new world way”? What does that even mean?

I want to learn more about wines and I’d like you to be the ones who help keep me exploring and learning… trying to understand how it’s made, why it tastes and smells a certain way, what type of grape (varietal) is used, and who makes what here locally. I want to hear your questions and will try to answer them with the help of our local experts.

I like to think I’m just like you. Sometimes I get up on a day off and wonder what to do for the day. Well, how about going wine tasting 20 minutes from home, or even less? Maybe have a nice brunch and then wine tasting, or how about taking a lunch basket and sitting at a winery and listening to music while talking with the winemaker?

We live in a special place. We have so many wonderful recreation opportunities all around us and I hope you can appreciate how lucky we are that it includes so many special wineries nearby.

Let’s explore the world of local wine together. Please join me.

John McKay has been working with the local wineries and restaurants for over a decade. Promoting local wines and food has driven him to help establish the Morgan Hill Tourism Alliance and serve on the Board of the Morgan Hill Downtown Association (MHDA). Now serving on the MHDA and Visit Morgan Hill Board of Directors after spending a four-year term on the Morgan Hill City Council, John is back to promoting the community and region he loves.  

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