Everyone’s heard about Napa wine country, but you may be unaware of another wine lover’s paradise all the way across the bay. The South Bay Area, home to both the Santa Cruz and Santa Clara AVAs, has an awesome up-and-coming wine country that deserves love and exploration.
Your trip to South Bay wineries will give you beautiful views, unique experiences, and delicious wines. We’ve compiled a list of the wineries you need to visit in the region, so get to sippin’.
Ridge Vineyards stands in the slopes of Cupertino, offering a gorgeous view of the Silicon Valley. Though the view is astounding, the real delight comes from trying the world renowned wines grown on the property. Critics all over the world have sung Ridge’s praises for decades, and it certainly earns the accolades — the wine is exquisite. If you’re looking for a place to bring the wine geek in your life, this is the place to visit.
Looking to enjoy an ocean view with a glass of vino? Loma Prieta Winery has a breathtaking view of the Santa Cruz coastline from atop the Santa Cruz Mountains. Visitors can picnic, play bocce, and bring families and furry friends all while enjoying stunning scenery and sipping on their famous Pinotage. If you get the chance to visit later in the day to see the sunset, you will not regret it.
Nestled in the hills of Saratoga, Cooper-Garrod Vineyards’ family owned and operated establishment gives a beautiful escape from the city life. All wines offered, including a locally popular Cabernet Franc, are estate grown and crafted by family member and winemaker, Bill Cooper. You may also see some unexpected guests at the winery —horses! Cooper- Garrod is also home to a robust stable and riding program and visitors can take a horseback riding lesson, followed by a tasting.
MJA Vineyards’ Los Gatos “Summit” location is the escape that locals love. When you enter MJA, you’ll find that most visitors are, in fact, members who come back because the staff and the atmosphere make them feel at home. With dozens of delicious varietals to chose from, including Santa Cruz Pinots and Napa Cabernets, MJA gives a warm and unique “aloha” to every patron. They are also dog friendly, recording their furry visitors on social media under #DogsOfMJA, and provide snacks to good boys and girls.
Planning for some wine and a fabulous dinner? Cinnabar, a tasting room located in the heart of downtown Saratoga, is the place to go. Cinnabar offers a hip indoor tasting room and also a cozy outdoor patio looking onto downtown that’s perfect for a night on the town. After you’ve tried their delicious wines, including their signature “Mercury Rising” Bordeaux blend, head out to one of the many neighboring restaurants or coffee shops for some after-sip eats.
Martin Ranch Winery is located in the valley merging into the Santa Cruz Mountains in Gilroy, California. However, this winery can easily be mistaken for its own unique town. Owned and operated by a husband and wife wine-making team and a dedicated staff, the Martin Ranch property is expansive and gorgeous. They offer indoor and outdoor tasting areas, a playground for the kiddos and an on-premises lake with a deck built for wine tasting. Along with a long list of wines, which vary from Riesling to Nebbiolo, they also sell artisan snacks and handmade goodies.
There are very few places that have a full authentic 1850s school house for viewing, but Burrell School Vineyards & Winery does. Burrell School boasts hearty wines, including heavy Cabernets and a yummy Pinot Noir, but their special structure — a fully restored 1850s school house — make the winery worth a visit. Owner and winemaker, David Moulton, can give an in-depth tour of the schoolhouse, where you can see lesson plans they rediscovered from over a century ago! It’s one for the books.
Cabernet may be king in Napa Valley, but it also reigns supreme at Vidovich Vineyards. Since being founded by “Grandpa” Steve Vidovich, the winery has almost exclusively focused on producing high-quality, big Cabernets. For those who are particularly fond of the most-popular red grape, Vidovich has got producing a fine Cab down to an art form. Its tasting room is the new kid on the block (opening in spring 2017) and has some of the most incredible views of the Bay Area. So enjoy a glass there or take some home for a steak dinner.
The Clos La Chance property, located on the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail in Gilroy, California, is stunningly gorgeous. With beautiful buildings and flowers in abundance, Clos La Chance is a great place for a romantic picnic. It also offers unique, fun private tastings, including a chocolate and wine pairing, and a wine education class led by the estate sommelier. They offer great wines for sunny days, including a delicious Central Coast Sauvignon Blanc and dry Rosé. Book your tasting at clos.com.
Though most wineries in the South Bay are food friendly, Testarossa certainly has one of largest and most popular picnic areas in the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. Testarossa is one of the state’s oldest operating tasting rooms and is spacious and grand. Outside, sit on their terrace with a bottle of wine and some friends to enjoy the shaded, often pleasant, South Bay weather. Straying from the norm, Testarossa also crafts dessert wines that are perfect for an afternoon treat.