The Morgan Hill Wine Stroll saw the usual eager crowds, plus some exciting first-time features that organizers hope to continue in the future for the annual downtown wine tasting event that highlights Santa Clara Valley wineries.
For the first time this year, the April 27 Fifth Annual Wine Stroll featured a “people’s choice” contest, in which attendees voted for their favorite selection offered by the 18 local wineries they sampled.
The overall winner of the people’s choice contest was Kirigin Cellars’ Vino de Mocca, according to Raquel Crowell, office manager for the Morgan Hill Downtown Association which hosted the Wine Stroll.
Coming in second and third place, respectively, in the people’s balloting was Fortino Winery’s Almond Champagne and Sunlit Oaks’ Moscato, Crowell said.
Participants in the Wine Stroll submitted about 210 ballots for the people’s choice competition, Crowell said.
New to Santa Clara Valley and the Wine Stroll is Sunlit Oaks, which opened earlier this year in Gilroy. “We’re so new we sparkle,” Vintner John Grogan, owner of Sunlit Oaks, said.
Grogan said the results of the people’s choice contest show a growing local preference for wines on the sweeter side. “All three of the wines that won were all something a little different, and all slightly sweet,” he said. Grogan described his Moscato as having “just a little hint of sweetness in it.”
He added that Sunlit Oaks also participated in the recent Gilroy Wine Stroll, and he plans to come back to Morgan Hill for next year’s event.
Also new to this year’s Wine Stroll was a full week of related events, known as Wine Week, leading up to the Saturday afternoon event. These included a “no corkage” night at participating restaurants for customers who brought their own bottles from local wineries to dinner, wine pairing meals at downtown restaurants, and “ticket holder Tuesday” in which those who purchased advance Wine Stroll tickets could gain exclusive deals at downtown shops the Tuesday before the event, Crowell noted.
“People were really excited” about the Wine Week events, Crowell said. “We didn’t have much time to promote Wine Week so it was really well received for what we did.”
The MHDA raised about $10,000 from the Wine Stroll, and sold about 1,000 tickets, Crowell added.
And the April 27 Wine Stroll featured a “designated driver” program, which supplied free ice cream, coffee and water throughout downtown during the event to those who forwent wine tasting to get other attendees home safely, Crowell said.
While the MHDA discontinued the fall Wine Stroll a couple years ago, that event has been replaced with the annual downtown Brew Crawl, which is scheduled for Sept. 14 and features samples of a variety of California micro-brews, Crowell added.
Next year’s Wine Stroll is scheduled for April 26.