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Fogarty Winery celebrates 40th anniversary two years late

Fogarty Winery celebrates 40th anniversary two years late

In a recent letter to club members, Tommy Fogarty Jr. described the beginnings of Fogarty Winery, his father’s dream made real in Woodside.

“There was no way of knowing what the future held, and there was certainly no plan in place when my father orchestrated the initial plantings here. The cast was impressive and legitimate, to be sure. David Bruce, Jim Beauregard, Bob and Jim Varner and Paul Draper were all involved to some extent in the new, ‘dangerously ambitious’ project of planting chardonnay and pinot noir in inhospitable lean soil and cold weather at the northernmost end of the Santa Cruz Mountains.”

The Fogarty family first planted Damiana Vineyard not to make wine but to preserve the land in the Williamson Act, which taxes agricultural land at a lower rate than residential. Armed with a new Caterpillar D4, Fogarty Sr. then cleared Langley Hill, Portola Springs/Baja, Windy Hill and Albutom and planted chardonnay—a lot of chardonnay. That’s when Michael Martella joined the party, and in 1981 Fogarty Winery was bonded.

The pandemic impacted plans to celebrate their 40th anniversary, but the 2021 wines, beginning with the 2021 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay and 2021 SCM Pinot Noir, are being released now with a 40th anniversary ribbon.

At a recent geology presentation at Fogarty Winery, founding winemaker Michael Martella gave a thumbnail overview of how winegrowing changed fundamentally on his early watch.

“When we started planting in the Santa Cruz Mountains, it was really cold, and nobody knew how to farm in the cool climate here,” Martella said. “Vineyards at the time were basically California sprawl, or droop, with no trellising. It’s not an efficient way to catch sunlight. Our yields were maybe 1 ton per acre, and I thought, ‘This is crazy!’”

Fortunately, in the mid-1980s, they discovered trellising and vertical shoot positioning (VSP), which was being done in Oregon and France and Germany, where cool growing conditions were the norm.

“Pretty much overnight, we began getting 3 or 4 tons per acre on the chardonnay using VSP,” Martella said. “Our vineyard manager, Julio Deras, went to harvest Langley Hill and came back saying excitedly, ‘Look at all these grapes!’”

Now in its 50th year, the Los Gatos Art & Wine Festival, aka Fiesta de Artes, takes place Sept. 16-17, 10 a.m-6 p.m. both days, on the Civic Center lawn, at 110 E. Main St. in Los Gatos. This free admission event features over 200 artists, live music (Gypsy Tribe, Megatones, Houserockers), wine by local vintners (Armitage, Gali and Testarossa) and craft beer, plus food trucks and more. It’s the Los Gatos Kiwanis Club’s biggest fundraiser of the year, and every cent made goes right back into the community.

Want to buy a 60-year-old wine brand, winery and tasting room? Woodside Vineyards officially announced it’s for sale. Contact: Tom McEvoy: tom109mac@gmail.com; 610-716-1599, or Jim Solic: jswestmark@msn.com; 949-212-9151

Dress up for the Rombauer Blue & White party on Sept 14 at Hotel Valencia in Santana Row to benefit MaxLove Project. All guests receive a Rombauer swag bag. https://rombauer.com/blue-party

Mark calendars for Gourmet Grazing on the Green on Oct. 7 in Aptos, noon-4 p.m. This fundraiser fpr cancer research features Santa Cruz Mountains wineries like Burrell School, Kathryn Kennedy, Kings Mountain, Hallcrest, Silver Mountain, Storrs and Wrights Station, plus distilleries, food trucks and restaurants, all from our local coastal communities. https://www.sccbg.org/gourmetgrazingonthegreen

Next up is Passport in the Santa Cruz Mountains on Oct. 21. Find out who’s pouring where at https://winesofthesantacruzmountains.com/events/passport..

On the same day is the annual Bonny Doon Art & Wine Festival, featuring wineries from the Santa Cruz Mountains, including Big Basin Vineyards, Beauregard, Hallcrest and Roberts Ranch Road, plus live music, a wine pull, local food trucks, beer and an array of locally made arts and crafts. This year the event is held at Crest Ranch Christmas tree farm on Empire Grade Road, overlooking the San Lorenzo Valley. Hard hit by the CZU fire of 2020, like many of the wineries in the region, Crest Ranch survived and is still going strong. http://www.bonnydoonartandwinefestival.com