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May 20, 2007

Like wine?  You don’t need to drive a few hours to enjoy fantastic tasting.

It’s all right here, within Los Gatos, or a very short drive of town.

Los Gatos and the hillside & mountain communities have an abundance of wineries and tasting rooms. The Santa Cruz Mountain Winegrowers Association has a wonderful map that make this clear. 

GrapesRight in town, we have Testarossa Vineyards, which is located on the Jesuit property up on College Avenue (the winery is open daily from 11-5). Also presented there is Fleming Jenkins Winery (yes, as in Peggy Flemming, the famous ice skater – she is a resident of our fair town).  Just into the coastal range (sometimes called the Santa Cruz Mountains, sometimes called the Los Gatos Mountains) there’s Byington and also Muccigrosso, both on Bear Creek Road.  There are dozens more in the nooks and crannies of both sides of “the hill”.  Back in the flatlands of Silicon Valley, you can enjoy tasting some vino without ever climbing a hill by visiting Pinder in Campbell.   Further “in”, close to the San Jose airport, and not on the list of the Santa Cruz Mountain Winegrowers Association, you’ll find J Lohr, just off the Alameda, between Hedding and Race. 

IGrapes from Casa de Handy can’t say I’ve been to all, but I’ve been to many of these. My very favorite Chardonnay wine is made by a local vinter in Saratoga, but the winery, Cinnabar, is closed to the public – it’s invitation only. Sigh.

Ridge on Montebello Road in Cupertino has a gorgeous picnic area with fantastic views of the Santa Clara Valley below. Several times we have been there and been in sunshine, while looking at the valley encased in fog, below. What a joy to be above the fogline when that happens!  (If you go there, wander into the barn and note a large corkboard that says “RIDGE” with the letters spelled out using the wine-drenched side of the cork. The artist of that fine piece was none other than my own Jim Handy.)  Cooper-Garrod has great wine and the unusual combination of winetasting and horseback riding nearby care of Garrod Stables (beware: you can, indeed, smell the horses when you picnic there).

This is just the tip of the iceburg. There are many dozens of great, local wines, without having to drive north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I would suggest just one thing, though. Since many of these scenic and enjoyable spots are in hilly areas with very curvy roads, bring along a designated driver.   The roads can be tricky under the best of circumstances as shadows dance in and out between the trees and cars unfamiliar with the roads weave out of their lanes a bit.

Happy tasting. Is it any wonder that this area was once called “The Valley of Heart’s Delight”??