If you’ve started to think about weekend getaways this summer, there’s one event you should put at or near the top of your list: the 38th annual Gilroy Garlic Festival, to be held July 29-31 in the California community of Gilroy.
On the festival’s website, you’ll find a list of the Top 10 Gilroy Garlic Festival Attractions. I lean heavily toward No. 8, but here is the complete list:
- Great garlicky food from Gourmet Alley
- Free garlic ice cream
- Flame-ups by Gourmet Alley pyro chefs
- Garlic Cook-off stage
- 100 arts and crafts vendors
- Children’s Area and Teen Zone
- Gourmet Alley demonstration stage
- Wine Pavilion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- Garlic mercantile shops
Full disclosure: Those 38 exclamation marks (one for each year of the festival) included in No. 8 were added by me; they were not part of the list shown on the website.
I have a vivid family memory about the Gilroy Garlic Festival. I was writing a syndicated wine column at the time, and attended the festival to glean some material for a column or two. I’d heard there was wine tasting offered, and that’s all I needed to spring into ticket-buying action.
What I did not know was that there was a local winery that made “garlic wine.” I recall sampling a white wine that was infused with garlic. It was made by Rapazzini Winery, and it definitely tasted like garlic.
Following wine-related trips, I’d often stop by my folks’ house and drop off a few bottles that I’d picked up along the way. After that trip, I opened up a bottle of garlic wine, but did not tell my folks what it was. (We often played the game of, “Can you name that wine?”)
I poured glasses for Mom and Dad. Mom continued to work on preparing dinner while Dad took a sip. He came this close to spitting it out as he scrunched his face into what looked like a squeezed ball of Play-Dough.
“What the hell is that?” he demanded, which was quite a question since Dad never said words like hell.
I told him it was garlic wine, and he gave me a glare that basically communicated: “Don’t ever do something like that to me again.”
It was a memorable father and adult son bonding moment.
I actually kind of liked the wine — not necessarily as a wine, but as a beverage to accompany a garlic-infused main course.
Today, Rapazzini makes a garlic-infused white wine, a garlic-infused red wine, plus both red and white garlic cooking wines. If you have an open mind and perhaps are just a little bit adventurous, they’re certainly worth a try.
And the Gilroy Garlic Festival is definitely worth checking out.
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Tomorrow: Pairing (non-garlic-infused) wine with garlicky food.