The Santa Cruz Mountains are home to innovative, terrain-influenced wines that capture the adventurous spirit of the Santa Cruz area. Our unique wine region features a staggering variety of offerings that arise from fog-soaked forest wineries and steep terraced mountain vineyards. The Santa Cruz Mountains American Viticultural Area (AVA) was established in the early 1980s and has brought wine-lovers from near and far to explore the extraordinary wines our county produces. Visitors can choose to drive deep into the mountainous terrain above the town of Santa Cruz or experience some of the tasting rooms without ever leaving the city’s confines. Whether they are included in the official AVA or not, the wineries in the Santa Cruz area are defined by a genuine dedication to their craft and the spirit of innovative creativity. The wine community here is always growing and changing. This list of new and buzzworthy wine offerings is for all wine lovers visiting the Santa Cruz County area looking to experience the best of our viticultural world.
1.) Doon to Earth
Aptos Village has an out-of-this-world new addition to the vibrant wine community with the opening of Doon to Earth. This new tasting room combines Bonny Doon Vineyards and Ser into one cohesive experience designed for wine exploration. The quirky alien decor, complete with a spaceship, rings with the nostalgia of the old Bonny Doon Vineyards tasting room in Davenport. Their small but intimate patio space and interior seating create an inviting space for anyone looking to adventure into the wine worlds of Randall Grahm and Nicole Walsh. Visitors can choose between a 3 or 5 wine tasting flight incorporating the best of Bonny Doon Vineyards and Ser or select a glass of wine from their extensive collection. The 2022 Le Cigare Orange from Bonny Doon Vineyards and Ser’s 2020 Sparkling Rose of Grenache are notable standouts everyone should try! Additionally, you can pair your wines with delicious empanadas from Fonda Felix. From the funky decor, welcoming staff, and spirit of exploration that Doon to Earth offers visitors, this new tasting room embodies the adventurous spirit of the wine scene here in Santa Cruz!
2.) Inversion Wines
Inversion Wines is the newest addition to the wine community in the Santa Cruz area. Located in Scotts Valley, this cozy tasting room has a great outdoor patio where you can even bring your furry friends with you to taste. The well-curated interior and friendly staff make visiting this new spot a truly wonderful and welcoming experience. Inversion Wines is named after the fog inversion layer that characterizes the unique flavor profile of Santa Cruz Mountain grapes. Their wines balance perfectly between delicate and full-bodied with a variety of flavor profiles that capture the essence of mountain wines. This experienced wine-making team’s passion goes beyond their craft and expands to their deep dedication to their hometown community. At Inversion, wine is truly a family affair. Their exceptional wines are sourced locally from vineyards like “Pappy’s Vineyard,” where wine-making brothers Cody and Taylor were born. The sense of community that Inversion Wines fosters in its tasting room and through its production process captures the true heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains in a bottle.
3.) Big Basin Downtown Tasting Room
Big Basin Vineyards has one of the most gorgeous winery landscapes. Visitors can experience Rolling hills full of terraced vines towering over the quaint tasting room below. In addition to their wonderful estate tasting room in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains, they now have a tasting room conveniently located right Downtown Santa Cruz. The new location is just blocks from the ocean and has a wonderful outdoor patio decorated with sparkling lights. Whether you choose to sit at the bar or outside on the patio, this new tasting room is the perfect place to sit back and relax while tasting some of the best wines in the Santa Cruz area. Big Basin Vineyards now serves small bites to complement their tasting flights with delicious dishes like their trio of dips paired with a Companion Bakeshop baguettes. They also serve up some of the tastiest empanadas in town crafted by Pancho’s Empanadas! The thoughtful combination of wines and flavorful dishes accompanied by welcoming staff at this location make this a brand new buzzworthy spot every wine lover should check out!
4.) Equinox Sparkling Wine
For lovers of sparkling wine, Equinox Wine is the perfect escape from ordinary wines into a world of carefully crafted Méthode Champenoise wines. Equinox Wine has been around the Santa Cruz area since the 1980s and led by their charismatic and knowledgeable founder, Barry. While not a new winery, Equinox is one of the best hidden gem spots for wine lovers seeking a genuine Santa Cruz experience where everyone is treated like a local and welcomed in as friends, not just customers. Their well-balanced sparkling wines represent Barry and his team’s lovingly applied dedication to creating nuanced and dry Méthode Champenoise sparkling wines right here in Santa Cruz. Located in the Swift Street complex surrounded by a community of other winemakers and brewers like Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards, Sones Cellars, Bottle Jack, Humble Sea and Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, Equinox shines as a must visit spot for those seeking buzzworthy wine!
5.) Saison Cellar and Wine Bar
Nestled away in Scotts Valley, the wine scene in Santa Cruz has a brand new hidden gem with the arrival of Saison Cellar and Wine Bar. Helmed by sommelier, winemaker, Michelin-starred chef, and local resident Mark Bright, this establishment is more than just a wine bar – it’s a celebration of global wines and the people who love to gather to enjoy them. Saison Cellar and Wine Bar brings the world of wine to Santa Cruz County while also highlighting hyper-local brands to uplift the robust community of winemakers in the Santa Cruz Mountain Appellation. The inviting interior is cozy, filled with lounge chairs, comfy couches, a bar, and a wine cellar with custom lockers for wine club members. Whether you’re unwinding after work, attending curated tastings, or hosting social events, this venue, part of the Saison Hospitality Group that features other bright stars like Michelin-starred Saison and Angler, promises an exceptional journey into the world of food, wine, and hospitality.