Surf City Vintners
You can’t go wrong with a whirl around this buzzing Westside wine-tasting hub. Not only does the Surf City Vintners cluster include tasting rooms for a dozen delicious boutique wineries (including MJA Vineyards, Equinox Wines, Sones Cellars, and Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard), it’s mere blocks from the sea and surrounded by other tasty offerings, such as Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, Kelly’s French Bakery, Venus Spirits, and New Leaf Community Market. Once you’ve sampled the vintners’ creations, choose a few bottles of your new favorites and cap the day off with an ocean-view picnic at nearby Lighthouse Field or Natural Bridges State Beach. (Surfcityvintners.com)
Downtown Santa Cruz has it all—shopping, galleries, cafes, restaurants, live music, and, yes, great wine. Try a glass at the recommendation of a knowledgeable sommelier at downtown’s sophisticated wine bar, Soif Restaurant Wine Bar & Merchants (soifwine.com). Just down the street, choose from more than 150 local wines at Vinocruz (Vinocruz.com), a retailer dedicated to supporting wineries from the Santa Cruz Mountain appellation.
Silver Mountain Vineyards
This certified organic winery takes being “green” to the next level with one of the largest solar arrays in the Santa Cruz Mountains and a sustainably designed operation. (Silvermtn.com)
Bargetto Winery, Hunter Hill Vineyard & Winery, and Soquel Vineyards
In production since 1933, Bargetto Winery dishes up a dose of history with its award-winning wines. Nearby, also nestled in the scenic Soquel hills, find Soquel Vineyards and Hunter Hill Vineyard & Winery. (Bargetto.com; Hunterhillwines.com; Soquelvineyards.com)
Corralitos Wine Trail
Head for the pastures of Corralitos, where some of the area’s best wines await at Alfaro Family Vineyards, Nicholson Vineyards, Pleasant Valley Vineyards and Windy Oaks Estate Vineyards & Winery. (Corralitoswinetrail.com)
Sip by the seaside at one of the village’s wine portals, It’s Wine Tyme and Cava Wine Bar. Or, peruse the hefty wine list in a romantic, picturesque setting at the nearby Shadowbrook Restaurant.
This up-and-coming joint tasting room—shared by many burgeoning wineries—is a must-see for wine lovers and novices, alike. (Watsonvillewinemakerstudios.com)
When it comes to wine events and information, Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association is the organization to know. Among its memorable happenings is Passport Day, when one pass buys participants tastes at more than 30 local wineries. The next Passport Day takes place Nov. 15. Visit scmwa.com for more information.
No DD? No idea where to start? No problem. Book a wine tasting tour through The Santa Cruz Experience and sit back and enjoy the ride. (Thesantacruzexperience.com)