I have observed a new phenomenon in Santa Cruz Mountain wineries: wine trails. Because the winegrowing region is so vast (from Half Moon Bay to Watsonville and Santa Cruz and both sides of the Coastal Range), it’s easy for wineries to get overlooked by would-be wine tasters and customers.
And while the Santa Cruz Mountains form one American viticultural area (AVA), a federally recognized term that ostensibly designates an unique winegrowing region, the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA is so big and varied it makes it hard to generalize. So, entrepreneurial wineries have banded together to form marketing subgroups to set themselves apart.
There’s the Corralitos Wine Trail, four wineries that have joined forces to better showcase what’s special about their particular southwestern corner of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. The grouping includes Alfaro Family Vineyards, Nicholson Vineyards, Pleasant Valley Vineyards and Windy Oaks Estate Vineyards and Winery.
Then there’s the Summit to the Sea Wine Trail, an affiliation of wineries that includes Burrell School Vineyards and Winery, Poetic Cellars, Hunter Hill Vineyard and Winery, Loma Prieta Winery and Vine Hill Winery.
Now there’s a newly cut wine trail, the Los Gatos–Saratoga Wine Trail. The Los Gatos–Saratoga Wine Trail is the collective vision of the five wineries. Dr. Greg Jenkins is a member who owns and operates Fleming Jenkins Vineyards & Winery with his wife, Olympic gold medalist Peggy Fleming.
The four other producers in the wine trail include Testarossa Winery, located on the site of the oldest continuously operating winery in the San Francisco Bay Area; Cinnabar Winery, which sports a tasting room in downtown Saratoga; Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards, which offers wine tasting in the historic structure built in 1922; and Savannah-Chanelle Vineyards, a beautiful winery among the redwoods overlooking the Saratoga.
Collectively, the wineries of the Los Gatos–Saratoga Wine Trail produce small lots of critically acclaimed wine, including cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, merlot, pinot noir, rosé, syrah and viognier.
Nov. 12–Dec. 31, the wineries of the Los Gatos–Saratoga wine trail will offer a “Happy Holidays Trail Tasting” featuring two-for-one wine tasting and 10 percent discounts on all wine purchases. Happy trails.