GILROY GRAPES: A certain Santa Clara County city is forever associated with a certain paper-skinned bulb, thanks to a certain summertime festival where certain dishes, up to and including ice cream, bear the bulb's unmistakably hot zing. But Gilroy, of course, sits in a fertile area, and garlic is not the only trick in its produce-packed bag. The area happens to grow a lovely grape, meaning that there are some fine vineyards and wineries in the area. Done a tasting tour of Gilroy and its environs yet? We know, we know; other wine countries can get the spotlight, but South Bay Wine Tours is sending the love to more offbeat trails, where the sipping is fine and the surprise are many. The group is setting off on a wine and cheese tour of the Gilroy area, in fact, on Sunday, Oct. 21 (which sounds like just the perfect time of year for a Gilroy toodle; temps have cooled but are not cold and things are feeling frankly fall-like).
ON THE ROSTER: Stops at Clos La Chance, where a walk through the winery's production is in store (the tour company says it is the largest winery in the area). Other visits during the afternoon will include Sycamore Creek (some artisan cheese snacking is in store at that stop) and a tasting at Solis Winery will round out the day. (Solis is on Hecker Pass Highway, which makes us dream of Hecker Pass; do you dream of Hecker Pass, too? We'll guess yes.) You'll be on a bus, for the tour, and your ride will return to San Jose at the close of the day. Cost is eighty bucks, and there's no lunch, but South Bay points out there'll be plenty of cheese consumption.
So, garlic, feeling a little competition? Probably not; you're the king of the area, we know. But there is room for grapes, and the libations that come from grapes, and that is an excellent reason to visit Gilroy beyond late July.