Santa Cruz Mountains AVA
I’ve just returned from spending several days in the region, on both the eastern and western side of the appellation, and I want to share some of the details of my trip. I’ll be writing up tasting notes and a more in-depth and geeky look at the region over the coming days, but today I wanted to look at some of the options for travel to the region.
Staying in San Jose
Truth be told, I'd never been to San Jose before and had few expectations. But what I found was an attractive downtown, full of the kind of vibrant life a college brings to its hometown. I was based out of the Four Points hotel, right in the middle of the city and almost adjacent to the university campus. And it was a super convenient location, with a light rail running right outside my door, easy on and off the freeway just a few blocks away, and ample entertainment options available by foot. In truth, one of the best features of the hotel was the fact that they have a relatively unassuming courtyard outside with twin bocce courts available for use. Yes, weird, but I love me some bocce.
A Quick Food Find
I’m sure San Jose has its fair share of great dining options, but since this was a very busy few days of work for me, I was looking for simpler options and I found at least one worth noting. It's the Original Gravity Public House, a glorified bar in some ways but one that serves a killer selection of craft brews on tap, perfect for cleansing the palate after a busy day's tasting. The menu is "limited" to a great selection of sausages, a food near and dear to my heart. The sausages were excellent, and you can even get duck fat fries. All in all, a pretty cool little menu and a casual vibe makes this place a real après-tasting winner.
Tasting in the Santa Cruz Mountains
I visited several wineries on the eastern side of the appellation. Though not all are open to the public, it's worth noting two that are and should not be missed.
Santa Cruz Culture
While the eastern side of the AVA might be dominated by Silicon Valley and rugged pioneers, nothing says Santa Cruz like the laid back (can I say it?) hippie atmosphere of the place. In season, this seaside resort town is a day's worth of fun, with an amusement park and dining on the pier. But there is more than meets the eye. The heart of town, somewhat removed from the shoreline, is a delightful place full of cafés and restaurants, well worth an hour or two to take it all in. Make sure to stop into Zoccoli’s Delicatessen, a Santa Cruz institution and the place to grab great sandwiches for the road—or to eat under an umbrella at a sidewalk table!
1534 Pacific Ave
Santa Cruz, California 95060
More Tasting in Santa Cruz
One of the great things about visiting Santa Cruz is the number of tasting rooms right in town. While I love visiting the vineyards, sometimes it’s just easier to walk around from tasting room to tasting room, sampling many wines from a region.