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monterey/santa cruz mtn wineries?

  • b

hi, heading down to the monterey area with my parents in a month, and was wondering if anyone had any insight into interesting wineries in the region or on the way.

my father particularly likes big Bordeaux-style reds, but i have little familiarity with the wine that is produced down this way. has anyone stopped at the david bruce tasting room near saratoga? i know they make some nice pinot noir, but not sure if they are worth a stop.

we're looking for either great wine or just interesting stops, whether for the beauty of the vineyards or for the knowledge of the winemakers. any tips would be appreciated.

and by the way, we will likely try dinner at passionfish one night based on several people's comments - thanks!

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  1. Can't go wrong with a visit to David Bruce.
    It popped to mind immediately, before you even mentioned it... so, I'd say you're on the right track!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Johnny P

      Byington Winery just down the road from David Bruce is also a nice place to visit. They have Pinot Noir vines on site. Free tastings too.


      1. re: Random1

        Great! A friend is taking my wife and me to Byington's this weekend. Can't wait.

    2. b
      Burke and Wells

      Burke and I had a lovely afternoon about a year ago at the Ridge winery in the Santa Cruz mountains. Should be along the way, just south of San Jose.

      Some good stuff, a lovely view, beware of rattlesnakes.


      Link: http://www.burkeandwells.com

      1. r
        randy salenfriend

        Hi Brad:

        If you can make it as far down as Soledad, I highly recommend a vist to Chalone. Since you have ample time to plan, you can make an appointment for tours and tasting during the week or the tasting room is open withhout appointment on Saturdays and Sundays.

        Although not quite as noteworthy as they were in the past, Chalone's wines are still fabulous, concentrating on the Burgundian varietals of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. They also make a superb Pinot Blanc. This winery was at the forefront of the industry for many years, led by Dick Graff who unfortunately died in an aviation accident some years past.

        They were known for having to truck water all the way up the hill to the winery in order to irrigate. The rocky soil to which the grapes are planted stresses the vines so that the grapes achieve high intensity of flavor. Mix in the fact that the winery is near the Pinnacles National Monument and is one of those somewhat hidden "gems" and well, you get the picture. Definitely something that the folks back home would never get to see. I have not included the link but you can find them on the web at ChaloneWineGroup.com (or some derivation of that) Enjoy.

        Randy S.

        1. I second the vote for Ridge. Not only are the wines unbelievably delicious, but the whole Ridge experience is very pleasant. Down-to-earth. Relaxing. They've got a pretty garden/picnic area, so stop by Draeger's and get some tasty treats to accompany that bottle or two you can't help but buy. Incidentally, their wine club is excellent and offers a great many wines that never hit retail.

          1. If your father is a fan of big Bordeaux style reds you should definitely not miss Ridge. Both the Monte Bello and Santa Cruz Mountain Cabs are excellent (and the Santa Cruz Mountain bottling is one of the best bargains in the overpriced world of California Cabernet). Monte Bello is on of the most respected California Cabernets and ages as well as any Cabernet made in California.

            Agree with Byington and David Bruce as well. Byington makes a Bates Ranch Cabernet that I have enjoyed in certain vintages. Also, Storrs and Thomas Fogarty are two wineries I have enjoyed in the past.

            1. Bruce is fine and Byington can be nice (though I don't seem to like them as much as most) Certainly Ridge is great, but isn't this site about the esoteric find? I think the one winery that you have to check out is Storrs. They make outstanding merlot and a bordeaux blend called BXR. (The 97 got overall best Meritage at the CA State Fair) They also make nice Burgundian style Chard and great Gewurtz and Reisling. Hell, everything is great for that matter. Most of their wines are made in small single vinyard lots which makes them even more interesting. Thomas Fogarty (up near Ridge) has nice wines across the board and a great view. River Run winery is a tiny handmade outfit outside of Watsonville. If you like esoteric, you'll love this place. I was a judge at the last Santa Cruz Mountains Wine Comp and he had two of the 6 wines in the Best of Show flight. The most interesting tour I've ever been on was at Calera in Hollister. They're built in an old quarry and use an interesting gravity meathod to move wine from tank to tank. The wines are also stellar (but very expensive the good stuff runs $40-$80 a bottle) Chard, Pinot, and a lovely Viognier are what you'll find there. The other one that I'd suggest checking out is Savannah Chanelle in Saratoga. Again, great Pinot but alot of other tasty stuff as well. There you have it, from a local wine fanatic.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Detlef Chef

                thanks for the overwhelming esoterica! we'll try to hit a few them hopefully. and i'm very into viognier these days, so we'll be sure to stop by Calera.

                1. re: Detlef Chef

                  I wouldn't say this site is about "esoteric" finds. It's about seeking out excellence. However, there is a corollary in that (1) once something becomes very popular the quality often declines, and (2) something that is both excellent and well-known doesn't need people to point to it -- you don't need chowhound to tell you about French Laundry or Chez Panisse (although we still like to talk about them). This means that we are more likely to talk about places/things that are excellent but less known (not to mention it's more fun to be "in the know" about obscure places).

                  Your suggestions sound great, though, and I'll put them on my list of places to check out (especially Thomas Fogarty, which is just opposite an amazing native plant nursery -- Yerba Buena -- I'm planning a trip back to this fall).