Saturday September 21st and Sunday September 22nd mark the return of the Fiesta de Artes Los Gatos, Art & Wine Festival, the only Art & Wine Festival in town all year! It will be located at the Civic Center lawn, and the hours are 10 am to 6 pm both days. (This year it was moved from August to September – hopefully there will be far less “beach traffic” with this timing, which seems like a great idea to me.)
What happens at the Fiesta de Artes?
Think food & drink, art & shopping, dancing & socializing! Once again, there will be more than 150 vendors with a huge variety of artists and vendors displaying and selling their artwork, plus booths with food and wine and of course loads of music throughout both days. Please check out the musical lineup here: Fiesta de Artes music lineup
Where is the Fiesta de Artes held?
Fiesta de Artes will be at the Civic Center lawn across the street from Los Gatos High School.
Disney art fans, take note! Tim Rogerson, Disney artist, will be at a downtown Los Gatos gallery in a couple of days. Take the opportunity to purchase pieces and watch him paint original artwork in person on Saturday, May 10th from 1 to 6pm! There will be wine tasting from the Loma Prieta winery also. The Amour d’Art Gallery is located at 216 N. Santa Cruz Avenue, Los Gatos, CA. Additional details at http://www.amourdart.com
Whether you live in Los Gatos or anywhere in Silicon Valley, you’ll want to visit the downtown area of Los Gatos next week (April 26-May 1 2010) as there will be multiple events happening along the theme of fashion, food and wine. To learn more, check the pages for the “Los Gatos Week of Wine, Food and Fashion“. There are great descriptions online of vendors, restaurants and shops involved, so have a look!
August brings very little rainfall to Los Gatos, Saratoga, and San Jose. The long, dry days make our wooded hills and grassy meadows particularly vulnerable to fire. A small spark from an untended burn or an electric motor – perhaps even clearing the brush to prevent fires – can have disastrous consequences. The current fire just “over the hill” in Bonny Doon and close to Santa Cruz is a big reminder to us that we live with the risk of fire year-round, but especially at this time of year.
Los Gatos has an old history with fire disasters, both in town and in the nearby mountain communities. I’m not referring to the Lexington fire of 1985 (which happened about three weeks before my wedding). I’m referring to our collective “wild west” history. A serious fire levelled part of downtown Los Gatos on July 26, 1891, destroying nine “buildings on both sides of East Main Street from the bridge to College Avenue”. Again on October 13, 1901, a livery fire on Montebello Road destroyed ” much of the business district along West Main Street, from the bridge to the railroad tracks. Nearly 60 buildings burn to the ground.” Among the casualties of that fire was the bell tower to alert the townspeople of fire! (Both of these quotes from a timeline produced by the Los Gatos Times Weekly.) See photos of the fires and the firefighters at the Santa Clara County Fire Department’s page on Los Gatos and the hiistory of fire fighting in our town.)
In January 1934, there was a fire at the Jesuit Novitiate. The water supply was inadequate so the decision was made to pump out the wine to extinguish the fire. Some 60,000 gallons of newer wine was used – and saved 200,000 gallons of old wine (plus the vineyards, which would have taken years to be fruitful again if lost to fire). This was a repeat of a similar event in the mountains in the late 1800s, when red wine used to battle the fire caused the Los Gatos Creek to run red. We can only imagine how the townspeople felt when they saw the creek turn a plague-like red!
But back to today (even though the history – and what’s above is only partial – of Los Gatos and fires is fascinating), we want to make sure that this type of history doesn’t repeat itself. Besides, you probably don’t have 60,000 gallons of wine to throw at a fire anyway.
What can you do to lower your risk of fire?
There are varying levels of risk. If you have a large parcel of land with a lot of vegetation that dries out in summer, you’ll have much more risk than a homeowner with a green lawn and plants close to the home. In all cases, clear any dead brush, vegetation, bushes, etc away from your home; the Cal Fire site suggests 100′ for riskier areas (which makes sense if you are in a rural area, but perhaps is not so feasible in a suburban or tract neighborhood). It’s better to cut weeds, grass and bushes back prior to 10am, when there’s more humidity (and less chance of a spark turning into a flame). Do not stack firewood up against your home. Do not have open fires or untended fires, particularly if embers can get away. It goes without saying, of course, to be especially careful with cigarettes, fireworks, and other burning or smoldering items. It’s not worth the risk to be careless. Please see the Cal Fire site for more info for homeowners: http://www.fire.ca.gov/fire_prevention/fire_prevention_wildland_zones.php
If you are in a “very high fire danger area” – places next to large, open and wooded parks, homes on large parcels up against the hills – you should know if your home is in that zone – you’ll have extra responsibilities. You will be required to have that clearance mentioned above, for instance. You can find the zone maps and the regulations here, on the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention site.
Fires are risky for homeowners, pets, wildlife, and the men and women who risk it all to battle the blazes for us. The cost is very high when a fire takes hold – when a home goes down from fire, so much is lost that simply can never be replaced. Nothing is worse than the loss of human life, though. Many thanks to the firefighters who are out there waging war on the flames right now. Let’s do our best to give them nothing to do.
That’s right. The as the fires raged, water ran out, so they used the wine to fight the fires.
That might seem shocking initially – after all, it’s the loss of a year’s work. But if the vines were consumed by fire, it could take 20 years to get them back to their previous level of productivity.
And can you imagine how the townsfolk felt when the Los Gatos Creek ran red from Cabernet or Merlot or Claret?They probably thought it was the end of the world!
I think it is in line with the entrepenurial spirit of our valley that even in fighting fires, these folks were truly thinking outside the box. They were willing to try something offbeat to protect the future.
Last Sunday was Earth Day. And it got me to thinking about what we can do. . . .
I know that we in Los Gatos can help create innovative solutions to ecological problems. Sometimes the answer is right in front of us and we only have to be thinking differently to recognize it. The townsfolk care about solar energy and other conservation approaches. “Fighting fire with wine” was a great concept that worked – twice. I think it’s time for the creativity of Los Gatos to emerge to help solve the problems of the land in a new era. What are the solutions to today’s environmental crises that are at our fingertips but we’re just not recognizing yet?
Los Gatos is a wonderfully diverse place to bring or enjoy a date, or just spend time with your loved ones, whether you’re 15 or 105. If you’re looking for a romantic place in Silicon Valley, you’ve got it in Los Gatos!
For the young, and the young at heart, a great creative outlet in Los Gatos is Petroglyph, where you can try your hand at pottery designs. We have several momentos from there around our home. It’s nice to have useable art too – our daughter made a teapot eons ago that she continues using to this day. This is a fun spot ,and for dates, it can really break the ice to have something to do beyond talking. I recommend it highly as a starting point, especially if this is relatively early on in the relationship.
Parks can be naturally romantic (if there are not a lot of screaming kids, anyway). Los Gatos boasts many, many excellent parks. Oak Meadow Park is usually called “The Airplane Park” by local children as it features an old WWII plane – one of very few left in parks around the nation (it is a decommissioned USAF T-33 Jet). It also offers a neat hand-painted carousell and a small guage railroad, the Billy Joans Wildcat Railroad, which runs from Oak Meadow Park (owned by the town of Los Gatos) into adjoining Vasona Lake County Park. Vasona is really a resevoir but it’s sooo pretty and you can rent either sailboats or paddleboats and enjoy the many, many scenic (and romantic) views. So bring your honey to the parks. Walk through Oak Meadow and get nostalgic. Indulge in a ride on the merry-go-round and another on the train. Feel playful. Then go out on the lake – where it’s quiet and peaceful and the views are lovely. My first nomination for “Great Places to Kiss” in Los Gatos, then, is out on Vasona Lake, taking in a view of the hills (El Sombroso on the left and El Sereno on the right as you look toward the coastal hills and downtown Los Gatos). By the way, the Parks and Rec department offers sailing lessons in the summers and they are open to kids too. A couple of years ago, Jim and I had Clair and Brian do this class and as their grand finale, they sailed us around the lake. That was a trip. But I digress. Back to romance in the park. Something else about the Vasona – Oak Meadow setting is that there are free concerts in the summer! The series is called Vasona Vibrations and it’s every Saturday from 5 – 7pm. So the parks are a fun and scenic date place, but they are also very kid-friendly too. Allow a couple of hours.
My next nomination is really more of an adult venue. Another beautifully romantic spot worthy of kissing is Testarossa Vineyards. Located at the historic Jesuit Novitiate (built in 1888), it is essentially a downtown Los Gatos spot but with some elevation. The building is old, the wine is great and the valley views are timeless! We enjoy bringing visitors there for tasting. The patio with the view is very inviting and feels like something out of a & (Los Gatos has no & Bs, but that’s another post). A little wine, a view, and thou: what more could you want?
Many parts of downtown Los Gatos beckon for dates. The town is overflowing with bars, restaurants, and desert shops, among others. You could hardly go wrong to just stroll down Main Street or North Santa Cruz Avenue and see what you find, maybe ending up at Dolce Spazio for some yummy gelato. But I particularly like Old Town on University Avenue. It’s a bit bustling, but I’d start at Steamer’s for a drink…Then stroll across the street to the older part of Old Town, and just browse (and probably buy) awhile. Both the California Cafe and The Wine Cellar have outdoor seating, if the weather is right and you want to people-watch. Both are great restaurants. The California Cafe has tables near the windows which enjoy a view of the hills – great ambiance. And the Wine Cellar has booths for cozying up ( they aren’t nearly as dark as they were 30 years ago, but are still dating material). Personally, I think fondue makes for a romantic meal – and if you think so too, do make it to the Wine Cellar, as their fondue is fantastic. But either way, you really can’t go wrong.
After the meal, perhaps a stroll through Border’s Books is in order. Or not – your choice! If it’s not too cool, walk to the back of Old Town. There’s a small amphitheater there. Concerts and plays used to happen in that spot, and sometimes now you catch a person just playing a musical instrument there. A pedestrian bridge beyond the amphitheater will take you over the freeway (highway 17) to Forbes Mill (now a Los Gatos history museum). There’s something nice about just making that little walk, and for some reason it has always struck me as romantic too. So my third nomination for most kissable spots in Los Gatos has to be somewhere on or near this pedestrian bridge linking Old Town and Forbes Mill. One time it might be by the old museum itself, another time at the amphitheater, and maybe another time – I know, a shock – right on the bridge with the whole world seemingly passing underneath.
There are many other nooks and crannies around town which may inspire a romantic moment. The many trees and hills and views, together with some beautiful old architecture and fun shops, can certainly make romance feel imperative in Los Gatos. It’s spring. And I think I must be overdue on a “date night”. Don’t tell my kids! (It’s my kids pictured above, in May 1996 just before my sister’s wedding in Boston, MA.)