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Santa Cruz Mountains Appellation Facts
Santa Cruz Mountains Appellation:  Tours  |  Facts  |  Calendar  |  Wineries
The Santa Cruz Mountains appellation is the oldest wine-producing region in California. Here are a few more interesting tidbits.
 Vineyards and Wineries  
There are more than 80 wineries and vineyards in the Santa Cruz appellation. They span a spectrum from tiny boutique operations, producing only a few hundred cases of high quality wine a year, to the big-time operations of Ridge and David Bruce, which both produce tens of thousand of cases annually.

The official region known as the Santa Cruz Viticultural Area (or appellation) extends along the Santa Cruz Mountain range from south to north from Mount Madonna (at the summit of Hwy 152) to Half Moon Bay (Hwy 92), extending down the western slopes to an elevation of 400 feet, and down the eastern slopes to an elevation of 800 feet.

Vineyards and wineries exist throughout the appellation, often hidden on remote, twisting mountain roads. Some areas of note include: Woodside, Cupertino, Saratoga, Loma Prieta, the San Lorenzo River Valley, Santa Cruz, Soquel, Aptos and Corralitos.


Taking advantage of the cool climate that characterizes much of the Western slope, winemakers have turned to the Burgundian varietals, headlined by pinot noir and chardonnay. Just over the ridge, where the Pacific influence is supplanted by warm valley breezes, tempered only slightly by the south San Francisco Bay, the climate is more remindful of Bordeaux. As a result, cabernet Sauvignon, zinfandel, syrah, and merlot dominate the viticulture here.

Winemakers on both sides of the appellation augment the the wines native to their side of the hill with grapes imported from around the appellation, and around the rest of the state, yielding a rich variety of flavors throughout the mountains.

The wineries and vineyards of the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation offer a step back to the cozier days of wine tasting in California. Steep winding roads, often no wider than a car-width have kept traffic light. Most wineries are small, and hosts are friendly and eager to share their wines and their knowledge of the wine making history of the area.
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