The wines of the Santa Cruz Mountains Appellation region rank among the best in the country. The tasting experience is unique in local wineries as well, where wine makers are in the tasting room with visitors, allowing for a more personal wine tasting experience. A unique microclimate, with warm, sunny days and cool foggy nights and mineral-rich soil facilitate the process.
Many winegrowers employ organic and sustainable growing methods. A new by-appointment-only Storrs tasting room is in the works on the Corralitos Wine Trail housed a zero-energy facility that is entirely solar powered with spectacular views of the mountains and vineyards. And a petite sirah-zinfandel blend from Sones Cellars is the only wine offered within the county that is tapped from a tasting room barrel and sold in refillable bottles, reducing the winery’s carbon footprint.
The Zen bell up the hill from the vineyard at Windy Oaks Estate Vineyard & Winery on the Corralitos Wine Trail. The sound is similar to that of a bell at a nearby Zen monastery.
An acorn embedded in the tasting room bar at Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards’ tasting room, part of Surf City Vintners on Santa Cruz’s Westside. The bar is crafted from an old redwood log on winemaker Jeff Emery’s family property in nearby Bonny Doon. The acorn was stashed in the tree by a woodpecker centuries ago.
A 100-year-old barn built by the Thomas family – apple growers who previously farmed the area – at Alfaro Family Vineyards & Winery. The barn is surrounded by three 80-year-old avocado trees.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Santa Cruz Mountains is one of the oldest wine growing regions in the United States and boasts over 70 boutique, family-owned wineries.
Hunter Hill Vineyards’ winegrower and winemaker Vann Slatter was one of the four Navy SEALs who recovered Apollo IV, the first unmanned test flight of the Saturn V launch vehicle, ultimately used by the Apollo program to send the first men to the Moon.
An array of local restaurants offer wine and food pairings like Capitola’s Shadowbrook restaurant’s Winemaker Wednesdays, Soif Wine Bar and Restaurant in Downtown Santa Cruz, and Sanderlings restaurant at the Seascape Beach Resort in Aptos. Vino Prima Wine Bar on the Santa Cruz Wharf offers spectacular views of the Monterey Bay served alongside California boutique wines to savor by the glass or just to taste.
Silver Mountain Vineyards was the first certified organic vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains, having been certified by California Certified Organic Farmers in 1991.
Downtown Santa Cruz’s Soif Wine Bar and Restaurant recently underwent a renovation, expanding the bottle shop and making room for a tasting area and bar, complete with communal table.