While some local winemakers may operate a tasting room in San Jose, or one of its more densely populated suburbs, most of the grape-growing goes down in the Santa Cruz mountains or out in the spread-out exurbs to the south.

Stefania and her husband, Paul—proprietors of Stefania Wine—are now among the many vintners working in Santa Clara County’s wine country. But before they moved into their tasting room on Day Road in Gilroy, the couple ran a vineyard within San Jose’s city limits.

After finding themselves with more free time in the wake of the dotcom bubble’s bursting, they decided to pick up a hobby while looking for new work. They took winemaking classes at U.C. Davis and planted a small number of vines at their former San Jose home. They made their very first wines in 2005 and hosted tastings at their house.

The endeavor grew from there. Five years ago, in 2014, they relocated to the rural foothills of Gilroy and opened their tasting room the following year. They continue to welcome guests as they did their friends back in San Jose.

Their new tasting room has a distinctly Americana feel, furnished with reclaimed local barnwood and anything else that Paul could source on Nextdoor. There’s a beautiful old stove and local crafts add to the homey feel. This time of year, you’ll find lavender from San Martin and all manner of pumpkins throughout the space.

Above the back window to the west, a cork garland frames the tasting room’s guests as they sip on a locally grown chardonnay, sourced from Dorcich Family Vineyards in nearby Watsonville. Twinkly lights set the mood for a relaxed, unhurried tasting experience.

Those looking for a real treat should try Stevania’s 2009 cabernet. At 10 years old, it’s showing its age beautifully, with dusty aromas of tobacco leaf, roasted peppers and chocolate. It’s plenty chewy, with dark plum and a finish of spiked coffee.

Stefania Wine
1800 Day Road, Gilroy