WINES - WILDCELT'S PICK O' THE MONTH!
BAY'S UNIQUE WINE AND PORT PRODUCTS - WESTOVER/PALOMARES
By Chris Margolin
"Call it wine, call it art, either way, it's truly unforgettable!"
About fifteen minutes west of the Livermore Valley wine region,
lies a small, or rather two small wineries rolled into one, Westover
Winery and Palomares Vineyards. Owned by William Westover Smyth
and Jill Smyth, the wineries sit in lovely, bucolic Palomares Canyon
in Castro Valley on a winding road through rolling hills forested
with oak and eucalyptus trees. It is definitely off the beaten track,
but this is a perfect place for wine production and wine drinking.
The site is a tranquil, Mediterranean villa with a creek, a waterfall
and lush surroundings. Additionally, the Smyths offer the winery
for weddings, corporate events, a summer concert series, a Wine
Club, and a most unique event called “Cigars Under the Stars.”
Established in 1985, Westover Winery concentrates on vintage vineyard
and vineyard designated wines, while Palomares Vineyards, opened
in 2000, focuses on blends and other unique wines, such as Tempranillo
and Portuguese style port, which recently won Best of Show at the
San Francisco Bay Wine Competition. Westover/Palomares actually
produces fifteen different ports and is, in fact, the largest port
producer in the United States. Annual production for the two wineries
total 3,000 to 4,000 cases, and besides port, include sherries,
champagnes and an extensive wine list, including Chardonnay, Sauvignon
Blanc, Syrah, Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio, among many others.
want people to enjoy their time at Westover,” says Smyth,
and visitors certainly do experience wonderful wines, but also the
great ambience nestled amongst the outdoors. Educating guests about
wine is a joy to Smyth, and he compares making wine to creating
an “art project.” As Westover/Palomares has its own
bottling line onsite, Smyth is involved in every aspect of the production,
from start to finish, hence one easily grasps that there is a lot
of love and care that goes into each bottle produced here.
Adding to the uniqueness of these wineries are the many social events
offered. Joining the Wine Club allows for discounted wine purchases,
and an initiation that demands that a new member choose a club name.
The "herd" as club members are called, have names such as Ben Herd,
Cowafornia Girl and Hugh Heffer, puns on the true club name, Connoisseurs
of Westover, or C.O.W. for short.
The summer concert series with local entertainment are usually sold
out. People bring their own picnics, or purchase barbeque at the
winery. An evening of music, dancing and enjoying wine proves ever
Under the Stars Event:
A most unusual event, "Cigars Under the Stars" held twice a year,
is one where guests bring three cigars---one to smoke and two to
trade. For fourteen dollars entry fee, a guest enjoys all the port
he or she can drink, and fans come from all over the Bay Area to
attend this event. Additionally, Westover is currently offering
a "futures" program on their vintage 1998 Tawnies port that will
be bottled in 2008 (aged in the barrel for 10 full years). When
buying a "future," each shareholder receives a certificate of ownership
with registration number, proof of shareholder status on the barrel,
barrel samples when visiting the winery, shareholder parties at
the winery, fulfillment of participating in the process of bottling
their investment, and a case of the vintage Tawnies port.
Westover/Palomares is open on Saturdays and Sundays, Noon to 5:00
pm (year round). They are located at 34329 Palomares Road, Castro
Valley, CA 94552. The phone number is 510.537.3932, and the website
A more down-to-earth and unique winery would be hard to find here
in the Bay Area, or possibly anywhere. The Smyths take great pride
in their wine production and in their hospitality to visitors. They
truly want guests to enjoy the overall experience at Westover/Palomares,
including the wines.
WILDCELT'S PICK O' THE MONTH BY CHRIS
Chicago Title Company
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