Big Basin Vineyards is one of my favorite Santa Cruz Mountain wineries. While pinot noir has become the region’s marquee wine, Big Basin’s Bradley Brown is making a name for syrah with his luscious single-vineyard designated wines. (His pinots aren’t too shabby, either.) Not only are the wines beautiful to behold, but so is the winery itself.

The old ranch property, which was first settled in the late 1800s, is located up winding mountain roads near Big Basin State Park high into the Santa Cruz Mountains where GPS devices fear to tread. It’s not the kind of place you pop into on a whim, but the winery’s new tasting room in downtown Saratoga is. It opens Friday, Aug. 20, and is located at 14598 Big Basin Way, Suite B.

If you like syrah and other Rhone-style wines, you’ll want to check out the Roamin’ the Rhones event Saturday–Sunday, Aug. 21–22. Participating wineries Burrell School, Hunter Hill, Loma Prieta, Poetic Cellars and Vine Hill will offer samplings of syrah, mouvedre and grenache, as well as specially selected cheese and cured meats for $5. Rhone wines are food friendly and easy to love. They come from the south of France where the climate is similar to the northern Central Valley and the Santa Clara and Livermore valleys. The Santa Cruz Mountains are cooler but still provide a favorable growing climate. I had a chance to try Poetic Cellars’ mouvedre, a delicious, intriguing wine that’s big and earthy yet eminently drinkable. Go to for more details.

Hunter Hill will be holding a vineyard dinner on Sunday, Aug. 22, featuring a mixed grill from Douglas Ranch. The dinner, which will be prepared by Los Gatos’ Michael’s on Main, is $85 per person and includes live music in a beautiful outdoor setting. For reservations, call Christine at 831.465.9294 or email [email protected]