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Introducing New Wineries on the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail Part 1

We’re excited about new wineries that have opened up recently along the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail in Gilroy, San Martin, and Morgan Hill. Check their websites for tasting days and hours and discover them for yourself. Read about two of them here, and read about two other new wineries here Introducing New Wineries on the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail Part 2 – Visit Gilroy

L & M Vineyard

A red sign with white lettering that says "L&M Vineyard"

Larry (L) and Mandy (M) Imas opened L & M Vineyard in the spring of 2022. Their tasting room is situated on the top of a hill in southeast Gilroy, with a view that overlooks their vineyard, California’s oak trees, and the Santa Clara Valley.

view of vineyard with two trees in the background on golden hills

 

After living in the San Jose area for many years, Larry and Mandy were ready to relocate to a bigger space outside of the city. As they were both retired, they were free to begin looking for the perfect new place to call home. When the former Sunlit Oaks Winery property went up for sale, they purchased it in 2018.

However, they admit their prior experience was in tasting wine, not making wine, so Larry and Mandy began researching winemaking and touring other wineries to learn all that they could. They were also happy to receive input from helpful local winemakers.

The L&M vineyards have 1.3 acres of vines that include Syrah, Malbec, Petite Verdot, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines they have made have only used locally-sourced grapes, and their Cabernet Sauvignon is made from their estate vines with a hint of their Petite Verdot grapes.

 

bottle of white wine on a wooden counter with a blurred background with a building in it

 

The first wines they made were their 2018 vintage wines. They bottled these in March of 2020, the day before the pandemic shut downs. It was with the help of some friends that they made their first Cabernet, named “Rookie Red.” They had their friends over for a few dinners and had them blindly taste-test to help them decide how much of their Petite Verdot to blend with the Cabernet.

Syrahm Zinfandel, Merlot and Chardonnay wine bottles next to a wine glass

Larry and Mandy have created an outdoor tasting area with several tables and chairs with covers for shade. They allow closely-supervised children and leashed dogs.

an outdoor seating area on gravel with tables, chairs, and shade covers

If you’re looking for a quiet location to enjoy some tasty, affordable wines with vineyard and valley views and friendly, down-to-earth hosts, L & M Vineyard is the perfect vineyard for you!

a man and woman sitting with glasses or red wine and gold hills and trees in the background

Interesting fact: Their grape logo was originally created by their daughter-in-law with sidewalk chalk. She was playing with her kids at the vineyard and joined them in drawing on the pavement. Larry liked the drawing so much that he took a picture of it. They eventually had their daughter-in-law recreate a better version of it and incorporated it on their red wine labels.

 

sidewalk chalk or grapes

 

L & M Vineyard
7602 Sunlit Oaks Ct.
Gilroy, CA 95020

lmvineyard.com
408.483.2248

 

Moose Mountain Vineyards

a deck with seating overlooking the Santa Clara Valley

 

Moose Mountain Vineyards is not a mountain you’ll find on a map. It’s a hilltop vineyard in San Martin (just north of Gilroy) with beautiful views of the Santa Clara Valley. It is named after the resident gentle giant of a dog named “Moose.” The owner and primary winegrower and winemaker, Rich Schmidt, opened his vineyard for visitors—by appointment—in spring of 2022.

While Rich is a doctor in the work world, he’s a passionate winemaker at home. After purchasing his property, Rich began planting his vineyards in 2008. He specializes in Bordeaux blends and unique European varietals.

two men with wine bottles and glasses on a wine barrel table

Rich continues to plant more grapes, and currently has: Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat (one of Rich’s personal underrated favorites), Malbec, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Petite Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and Carmenere. Rich’s unique, hands-on approach includes no single-wine varietals but a blend of different wines to create full-bodied wines with depth, complexity, and bold and adventurous flavors. The 1,000-foot elevation and the Mediterranean climate of hot days and cool nights allow the grapes to ripen completely while preserving their acidity.

Moose Mountain Vineyards uses an organic approach and sustainable methods for growing and production. Rich prefers to do the pruning and harvesting by hand, with the help of family and friends. To farm the vineyards in a sustainable way, he uses cover crops with nitrogen-fixing plants. Keeping with the organic approach, Rich’s wines also contain no additives and are made from only grapes on the property.

 

rows of vineyards with trees and hills in the background

Rich also prefers a whole food vegan lifestyle. In addition to his vines, he has an extensive variety of produce growing throughout the property, from fruit to olives, tomatoes, and hazelnuts and a variety of berries. These plants also attract beneficial insects to the area.

A visit to Moose Mountain Vineyards is not just a wine tasting, it is a “mountain-top” experience.

 

Interesting fact: Rich’s property also has a bungalow guest rental, which has two patios, year-round shared use of a hot tub, seasonal shared use of his infinity pool overlooking the vineyards and the valley, and a whole foods plant-based breakfast with ingredients from the property. And, of course, you can sample the wine.

Moose Mountain Vineyards
3210 Paseo Vista Ave.
San Martin, CA 95046

moosemountainvineyards.com
For appointments, email: uli@moosemountainvineyards.com

Plan Your Wine Tasting Tour of Wineries of Santa Clara Valley

Ready to go wine tasting in Gilroy? Be sure to plan at least a weekend stay to visit as many of our amazing wineries as you can. Check out our Great Garlic Getaways for a sample two-day Wine Tasting Weekend itinerary or plan your own custom tasting tour.

  • Lodging: Gilroy has plenty of choices for lodging, so check our listings of Hotelsand RV Parks and Campgrounds to choose the best option for you and your traveling companions.
  • Wine Passes:Be sure to stop in at the California Welcome Center Gilroy (conveniently located in Gilroy Premium Outlets) to purchase a Santa Clara Valley Wineries Wine Trail Pass and pick up complimentary winery maps, brochures, and coupons to the local wineries.
  • Restaurants:If you are staying a while, you will need some good nourishment between wine tastings. You’ll find fantastic restaurants and cafes along the Road to Garlic and the Gilroy Taco Trail; or check out the complete listing of all dining options on our Restaurants web page.

Find More to Explore in Gilroy

In addition to all the great wineries, you’ll find lots more to do in Gilroy, California! For inspiration, check our list of 33 Things to Do in Gilroy and Great Gilroy Getaways trip itineraries. Book a budget-friendly hotel room so you can stay a night or two and try even more wineries in Gilroy.

When you visit, be sure to stop by the California Welcome Center Gilroy. Our friendly staff can help you pick the perfect place to eat and find other fun places to explore. We also have unique gifts and souvenirs of your trip to Gilroy and the Golden State.

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