Astonishingly, given the hardships of viticulture in the Santa Cruz Mountains, this appellation hosts some of North America’s elite wineries. Rugged mountains, thin soils, high land prices and Pierce’s disease (not to mention, earthquakes!) are among the challenges which grape growers face. Yet more than fifty wineries operate here, producing wines that include well-regarded Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. The appellation is large, crossing the borders of three counties (Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and San Mateo). However, with less than 1500 acres under vine, the Santa Cruz Mountain AVA is small compared to similarly recognized appellations. Microclimates are particularly important here, as the climate can change substantially depending on which side of the range and at what elevation vineyards lay. The coolest climates are at the lower elevations on the Pacific side. In this environment, vineyards which can be as low as 800 feet (most are closer to 2,000 feet) are greatly affected by ocean winds and fog, making varietal selection critical. Low-lying inland vineyards are generally the warmest in the appellation, but still benefit from the moderating effects of San Francisco Bay.
Since Thomas Jefferson first tried to cultivate European vinifera in Virginia, the state has been a decided piece of American wine country. Over the years better knowledge, equipment and materials have all contributed to an advancing wine industry, but the more recent decade or two has brought out the real potential that can be found.
[>] see all Santa Cruz Mountains features (25)
Best of Appellation
See the best wines of
Santa Cruz Mountains
BLUE BOOK PROFILES
Blue Book Taste Profiles for the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA
Alive & Well here
You are the world’s greatest star. Your fame has infiltrated every nook and cranny of the globe, regardless
is the Regional Correspondent for Santa Cruz Mountains.