September is Wine Passport Month for the Wineries of Santa Clara Valley (WSCV.)
One Passport gives tasters access to dozens of Santa Clara wineries and tasting rooms.
Aver Family Vineyards was my first stop this Passport season.
For your own tix visit: Wineries of Santa Clara Valley (Link)
The Santa Clara Valley is a jewelry box of long standing wineries and
tasting rooms, as well as up and coming vintners.
Many people think of the Sonoma, Napa, or Paso Robles regions when planning a winery outing.
But the Silicon Valley is home to our very own wine region, and one worth exploring.
Progressing from high-tech and finance backgrounds, John and Carolyn Aver journeyed into wine. The couple have traveled extensively. After tasting in Burgundy, Champagne, the Rhone, and Bordeaux, they developed a love of wine. John is a collector of Bordeaux wines. In 2005 they took the plunge and purchased the 8 acre site. Now their lives incorporate farming, manufacturing, and hospitality in their Aver Family Vineyards.
The property is tucked in the Uvas Valley, nestled in the southern end of the Santa Clara Valley. The winery and vineyards feel a bit like a world within a world, or a story within a story. It's a gem of a setting just miles from the frenzy of the Silicon Valley.
The Avers produce Rhone varietals; wines that are often found in the Rhone region of France. Many winemakers in the Santa Cruz Mountains produce Rhone wines. But what's unique to Aver wines is that John intentionally lets his grapes sit on the vine a little longer than other local wine growers and producers may.
Some would argue this could produce wines that are too sweet or heavy. But quite the opposite. Aver Family wines are often dry, with balanced tannins to acidity, smooth—and notably, the wines have such personality! They offer a bit of spice, deep flavors of fruit, and pair effortlessly with food.
John is the vineyard manager. The vineyard is the place he loves to be. John said, “The worst day in the vineyard is better than the best day in the office.” He and his assistant Carlos do all the vineyard work. Winemaker, Kian Tavakoli, works in collaboration with John to craft their Rhone focused wines.
The winery's motto, “ Where Friends Become Family,” is evident in all the Avers do. They have a dedicated staff who know the Aver story and wines. The winery offers European Wine Tours for club members, and each year the tour sells out quickly with a waiting list. While I was visiting, one taster signed up to be a Club Member. Carolyn offered her a hug, exclaiming, “Welcome to the family.” It was sincere and cheerful. Not a drop of cheesy.
Wine tastings are offered in the Avers' Italianate courtyard. However, the day I visited, it was over 100 degrees so the wine tasting was hosted in the cellar—with air conditioning. Carolyn showed me around the courtyard. For being a newer winery, the patio and setting had an Old World feel to it. That's due to Carolyn's keen eye for detail. She sourced items in Europe, then had them sent to the US in a shipping container. The aged, recycled materials “have life to it,” as she said. For example, 300 year old roof tiles were used as courtyard tile-pavers and an antique water trough is now a fountain.
You can rest easy knowing you're enjoying organic wines. John said, “Great wine comes from great fruit.” We've heard this sentiment in the wine industry. And at the Aver vineyards, John takes steps to bring this to life. When they first bought the property, he shifted the vineyards from being conventionally farmed to holistically farmed.
John is soil focused. In this he uses mulch to keep the soil moist and cut down on water usage. He also does not till the soil. He feels that all the rich, organic matter is found in the top six inches of soil. John attends soil conferences in an effort to learn and implement better vineyard practices that eventually taste great in the glass! After this harvest, look for the new herd of sheep as part of their eco-vineyard care.
For the tastings:
Family is very important to the Avers.
The Family Album line of wines has pictures of family members past and present,
including; John's dad, mom, and grandmother, Carolyn's mom and dad, and
even the vineyard canine family members.
John's mom, Susan who is in her 80s, is often greeting tasting guests.
The Grace Rose' is named in honor of John's and Carolyn's mothers who are gracious,
and demonstrate that grace each day.
If you come tasting at Aver Family wines for a day, you just may become family!
You can save the airfare and enjoy Rhone wines here in the Santa Clara Valley,
at Aver Family Vineyards.
Here's to your Rhone wine jaunt!
For more local Rhone wines visit my feature on Bottle Jack Winery.
Join me at California Wine