With an increasingly visible presence in the wine press, the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA might be in danger of actually losing its title as Northern California's most underrated wine appellation. It still isn't highly recognized among most wine lovers, so from my perspective it can still claim the underdog title, at least for a couple more years.
The Santa Cruz Mountain AVA has been producing wine ever since some of the earliest farming pioneers into Silicon Valley sought refuge from the heat of the valley and discovered cooler climes that were perfect for grapes. Several historic wineries still have buildings and facilities that date back to the turn of the 20th century.
In more modern times the Santa Cruz Mountains have been the home to several iconic California wineries, perhaps most notably, Ridge Vineyards. But in the recent decade, Ridge and a few of the other early pioneers of the area have been joined by dozens of new wineries, many of whom came seeking out what they saw was one of the best places for growing Pinot Noir.
In the past 15 years Pinot Noir acreage in the Santa Cruz Mountains has been growing steadily as many producers realized the climate was generally better suited to this variety than the Merlots and Cabernets that many had been trying to grow with only marginal success through the late 80's and early 90's. While the area has yet to produce more than one or two superstar successes with Pinot (i.e. wines that score in the 91 to 97 point range for major critics) the quality of the wines continues to rise, and it is only a matter of time before we will see more high scores.
Which is why it might be a good idea for us all to get a bit more familiar with Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir, a task made easy by the upcoming Pinot Paradise celebration.
The event takes place over two days. On Saturday March 18th, wine lovers are treated to a region-wide open house -- a progressive tasting where ticket holders can visit as many or as few wineries as they like to taste barrel samples and some library wines. Then on Sunday morning, technical seminars (see this MS Word document for details) about the region's climate, winegrowing, and history will be held at Villa Ragusa in Campbell, followed by a large public wine tasting with wines on offer from more than 30 wineries as well as nibbles from local restaurants.
Saturday March 17th - Pathway to Paradise Self Guided Tour 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday March 18th -- Seminars & Grand Cruz Tasting 10:0 AM - 5:00 PM
35 South Second Street
Campbell, CA 95008
Tickets are priced at $25 for the self guided Pathway to Paradise tasting, $65 for the technical seminars, and $65 for the Grand Cruz tasting. A combination ticket good for all three events is available for $125 per person. Tickets are available for purchase online. This event will likely sell out, so advance purchase is recommended.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
The Superb Grace of Old Vines: Drinking Janasse The Zinfandel Experience: January 31, San Francisco Vinography Unboxed: Week of January 4, 2015 Vinography Images: The Colors of a New Season Vinography Unboxed: Week of December 27th, 2014 Vinography Images: Rich Skies Losing a Legend in Serge Hochar Flirting with the Ecstatic: The Wines of Nikolaihof, Austria Vinography Unboxed: Week of December 20, 2014 A Grape By Any Other Name
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune