Monthly Archives: November 2013

Castillo’s Hillside Shire Winery Defines Unexpectedly Intriguing

I was not expecting much from Castillo’s Hillside Shire Winery.  One look at their website was enough to dissuade me from hoping their wine would be any good.  When you say outright that you never dreamed of owning a winery and fell into the wine business as a fluke, I am not going to trip over myself for a taste of your vintage.  Also–and I know this isn’t fair as it has absolutely nothing to do with their wine-making abilities and is purely a pet peeve of mine as a reader–the fact that their website is riddled with grammatical errors and over-used, sappy phrases like “this wonderful thing called life” did not exactly fill me with confidence.  If nothing else, they didn’t care enough about presentation to proofread…or hire someone to proofread.  The experience was not encouraging.

There were two reasons I decided to stop by (well, three if you include we were nearby and felt like it).  One was the name (my husband is a big Lord of the Rings fan), and the other was this:

 

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Even though the house is a private residence and thus inaccessible to gawkers like me, how can you not want to see it? We were even more impressed when we got there and saw the grounds:

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I want their pool.  I want it so bad.

This place is gorgeous.  It perfectly blends fanciful, fairy tale-like gardens with a sense of modernity.  Everything is clean, well-kept, and new but also looks like an updated version of Marie Antoinette’s estate at Versailles.  Complete with its own pond, footpaths, tiny bridges, and arches, this would be an amazing place to get married!

For comparison, take a gander at Marie Antoinette’s actual estate:

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A Footpath at Marie Antoinette’s Estate

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Hardly Twins, but Similar Feel, No?

Both beautiful, fanciful places, but the shire has the ever-attractive addition of twenty-first century plumbing.

When we did our tasting, we were both pleasantly surprised by the quality of the wine.  You can tell the vineyard is new.  Something about the flavor just screams at me to wait a couple of years (why yes, flavors do scream time periods at me.  What’s it to you?), but we still enjoyed the wines.  My favorite was probably the Red Table Wine, almost certainly because of its high percentage of Cabernet Franc, but Daniel preferred the Syrah.  Most of the reds were a bit more tannin-filled than I would have liked, but the flavors were good, and I feel the vineyard is brimming with potential.  I do so wish I had been able to try the Cab Franc, but really, they probably saved me from buying yet another bottle of wine we do not need.

In its pleasantly surprising fashion, Castillo’s Hillside Shire is totally worth a visit.  Mostly, I would go for a nice place to sit and sip wine, but at least you don’t have to bring your own.

 

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Categories: Northern California, Santa Clara Valley, Santa Clara Valley, Wine | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Guglielmo’s Bottle Your Own Wine: Not Even Worth $5

Until recently, I worked every Saturday.  This creates a whole host of problems whilst trying to have a life.  Oh the number of parties I could not attend or was forced to be horribly late to.  It definitely takes a toll on your social life.  And your wine-snob development!  I couldn’t go to passport or really any other daytime wine events.

However, for the last couple of months, I have been working Sundays instead, and this has opened up a whole new world of wine events!  Guglielmo‘s Bottle Your Own Wine day was one that I had wanted to try for a long time but could never make with my previous work schedule.  Last weekend, I finally was able to attend.

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It was so not worth the wait.

And wait we did.  I knew this event was popular, but in my naivety, I did not expect to wait very long.  Fifteen minutes, maybe half-an-hour was the most I expected.  If I had known I was facing an hour-and-a-half long line, I would never have gone.

Unlike most of their patrons, I was in it for the experience, not the $5 wine.  I thought it would be cool to fill my own wine bottle and slap my own label on it, watching as it was corked.  The whole wine-making process is highly intriguing to me, and seeing a glimpse of how it all works attracted me to this event.

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Wine Filler

I never expected the wine to be good.  I assumed, correctly I think, that the wine we would be bottling was the leftover remnants of whatever the wine-makers didn’t want to bottle.  How else could it be so cheap?  And after trying it, I feel I can confirm my original assessment.  It’s perfectly fine for $5 wine, and while I admit that reds are not my favorites, especially from this particular winery, I do not think this bottle is worth much more.

That in mind, I was not expecting the mad rush of people that we faced upon entering Guglielmo.  The line would have moved pretty swiftly if the majority of patrons had not come bearing cases of empty bottles.  Perhaps I was naive, but it never occurred to me that people would show up wanting three cases of this swill, yet most of the people in line bore at least six bottles and often more.

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I think the label supports my theory that this is wine they just want to get rid of. Why else would they label it “table wine” and write in the lot number?

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The Fruits of Our Labor(ious Waiting)

Needless to say, I will not be attending again.  Maybe if the wine was better, I’d wait for it, but it’s really not that great, and once was more than enough to take in the experience.

Hopefully, passport day in a couple of weeks will be a better use of my newfound Saturday freedom.

Categories: Bay Area Day Trips, Local Travel, Northern California, Santa Clara Valley, Santa Clara Valley, Wine | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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