Travel Blog


Photo by Garrick Ramirez

With a legacy that stretches back more than one hundred years, the Santa Cruz wine region has never been more vibrant. As Santa Cruz Mountains vineyards continue bearing delicious fruit, the local wine community keeps yielding new and exciting developments, from fashionable new tasting rooms to innovative wines. Plus, you may have heard that a Santa Cruz Mountains winery, Mount Eden, received the royal treatment when it was served at the Windsor Castle wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Here are three more tasty tidbits that have the local wine scene all abuzz.

Photo by Garrick Ramirez

#1 Birichino Opens Stylish Downtown Tasting Room

Local wine label Birichino-the Italian word for “naughty” or “mischievous”-debuted in 2008 after co-owners John Locke and Alex Krause discovered they shared a similar aesthetic while working at Bonny Doon Vineyard. Their fetching new tasting room-the label’s first-has proven well worth the wait. The light-filled interior features a mash-up of styles with white punched tin ceiling tiles, Mid-Century mod cabinetry filled with clever objets d’art, and centerpiece cast pewter bar. It’s an exceedingly pleasant space to taste through wines that showcase older vineyards and varietals less common in California such as a Grenache sourced from the 108-year-old Besson Vineyard in Hecker Pass. If you’ve tasted Birichino wines, you know they adhere to Locke and Krause’s three guiding attributes: delicious, delicious, and delicious. They’re also incredibly aromatic and sprightly as in their popular Malvasia Bianca, a beloved sunny day staple. Their Malvasia juice has even popped up in frozen form at neighboring The Penny Ice Creamery. Stop by the tasting room in downtown Santa Cruz for a flight, a glass, and a chat. Locke and Krause are fun, witty gents who clearly have a passion for wine, and the chops to prove it. Birichino is open from 1 – 6pm on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, and 1 – 8pm on Friday.

Photo by Garrick Ramirez

#2 Wine Country Retreat at New Storrs Winery & Vineyard

Tucked into the serene, rolling hills of Corralitos‘ Pleasant Valley, the new facility from Storrs Winery & Vineyard immerses visitors in the splendor of the Santa Cruz Mountain wine country. While the venerable Santa Cruz winery has maintained a cozy tasting room in the Old Sash Mill building-which will continue to stay open-the new property offers a notably different experience. When it opens the first weekend of August 2018, visitors will wind up an oak-shrouded road to a concrete modern barn-like tasting room and winery situated within an old mountain quarry. Inside the tasting room, you can sample wines that highlight the local region including a new, exceptional Hidden Springs Chard. Take a glass out to bistro tables strewn about a sunny terrace which overlooks a towering eucalyptus forest. Afterward, walk up to a small ridge overlooking their vineyards and note a sign that highlights Storr’s conservation efforts including strategically placed boxes to foster wildlife habitats for bats and owls. Co-owner and winemaker Pam Storrs says they’ll soon offer walking tours through the vineyards, lending visitors a first-hand experience of the stunning landscape.

Photo by Michael Phillips

#3 Margins Wines Goes Low-Intervention

Megan Bell is one of a group of young winemakers making waves in the local wine scene with her low-intervention label, Margins Wines. In addition to showcasing lesser-known organic varietals and vineyards, her decision to keep the wines as natural as possible-eschewing commercial yeasts for the naturally occurring sort, shunning the many undisclosed additives that winemakers rely upon, not filtering the finished product-is challenging traditions. It’s partly about honoring the fruit, partly about wellness, but mostly it’s her general philosophy on life. “Everything has their place in the world, and I see no reason to exert your influence more than you have to,” she explains. Bell is a classically trained winemaker who, while still in her twenties, has worked all over the world-from Napa to New Zealand-before moving to Santa Cruz in 2015 to serve as the assistant winemaker for Bonny Doon and Beauregard. Today, she is part of a scrappy, youthful collective-housed in the old River Run Winery along the Pajaro River-that she describes as short on resources but high in spirit. This year, she plans to release eight, nearly all single-vineyard wines including her signature Clarksburg Chenin Blanc. The best way to nab a bottle is by joining the mailing list on her site, but you can also find Margins at Soif, Shoppers Corners, Vino Cruz, and soon, the hotly anticipated natural wine bar opening downtown, Bad Animal.