Saturday, August 30, 2014

California Wine: Santa Cruz Mountains

The following article appeared in last Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle in the 'California Wine' special section. Although Napa and Sonoma are the counties that usually are thought of when people think of the local wine industry, Santa Cruz County ranks high as well. Not surprisingly, Cisalpine influence was present from the beginning.

Santa Cruz Mountains blend chill and warmth for Pinot to Cabernet

By Patrick Comiskey - San Francisco Chronicle - August 23, 2014

The San Andreas Fault runs right through the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation, separating parts of the Pacific plate to the west and the North American plate to the east. Between them, geographical chaos ensues. Not surprisingly, it can seem hard to get around by car, with all the winding mountain roads.

There are more than 70 vineyards and wineries in the area, but aside from Ridge and David Bruce, nearly all are tiny and obscured behind mantles of towering redwoods and Douglas firs. The region is largely defined by elevation, and the fog line, so you won’t see many vines planted below 800 feet.

The slopes are so dramatic, and the climatic conditions so variable, that the Santa Cruz Mountains are one of those rare places in the state where it’s possible to farm Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon on the same estate.

“We’re definitely on the cool side for Cabernet,” says winemaker Jeffrey Patterson, who grows all three, “and probably a little on the warm side for Pinot Noir.”

Patterson farms and makes wine at Mount Eden Vineyards, one of the mountains’ most historic properties, a hidden enclave that has been continuously farmed for grapes since 1946, when a stockbroker named Martin Ray ventured to the property outside Saratoga, seeking high-elevation slopes upon which to plant Pinot Noir. From his aerie, Ray was one of the era’s most cantankerous but also talented winemakers, a gadfly for everything from proper cellar methods to more transparent varietal labeling.

When you factor in Ray’s tenure, Mount Eden remains the oldest continuous producer of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the country.

Total acres: 408,000

Known for: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon.

Defining features: Proximity to the Pacific and its effects result in an appellation with a wildly varying climate. Sedimentary and volcanic soils, depending on which side of the San Andreas Fault you’re on.

Places to visit: Mount Eden Vineyards (tours only by appointment), 22020 Mount Eden Rd., Saratoga. (408) 867-5832.

Ridge Vineyards (weekends, and weekdays by appointment), 17100 Monte Bello Road, Cupertino. (408) 867-3233.

Thomas Fogarty Winery, 19501 Skyline Drive, Woodside. (650) 851-6777.


A few Santa Cruz County wineries, not necessary in the mountains:


Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association



Etrusco-Umbro-Gallic said...

Gioxep! Comment ca-va, mon ami?

Really cool posts you had about Messi and those Americans too.

You know, I don't think I ever mentioned this here, but France was traditionally a HUGE destination for those of Cisalpine background.

Michel Platini, Rafael Gemignani, Yves Montand, Jean-Paul Belmondo, etc.

Oh, the leader of Generation Identitaire is also of Cisalpine stock(Alban Ferrari).

And then of course we had Jean Baptiste Sully, Vilfredo Pareto, the astronomer Cassini, etc.

Heck, Napoleon! He was Tusco-Ligurian.

BUT, but, but, back to the main question I was going to ask you here:
I don't know how much expertise you have in viticulture, but tell me, why is it that grape vines--esp from notable regions like Chianti, etc.----are grown on hills? The wines of Emilia-Romagna(normally considered a relatively flat region), for ex, are grown in its hilly regions too.

Camunlynx said...

Hello. Thanks. It's always appeared that the French historically have admired Cisalpina. I don't really know about the wine. It appears that few northern California wines are grown in flatlands.