When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tied the knot at Windsor Castle in May, the guest list was packed with royals, friends, and celebrities. It also included a somewhat unexpected invitee: a California Pinot Noir from the Santa Cruz Mountains. While it was only fitting that Markle, a California native, would want a wine from her home state to be served at the reception, some were a bit surprised that she didn’t choose a splashy wine from one of California’s more famous regions. Instead, the down-to-earth couple chose the 2014 Domaine Eden Pinot Noir, which sells for a modest $40 per bottle.

Wine critics share the couple’s enthusiasm for the wine, a second label from Mount Eden Vineyards in Saratoga. In a post-wedding review, Ray Isle of Food & Wine magazine declared it to be “a lovely bottle of Pinot Noir,” light-bodied but flavorful, with raspberry aromas and a peppery finish. Likewise, Wine Enthusiast critic Matt Kettmann gave it a 93-point score. Plus, a fun fact: Renowned chef David Kinch's first job was working at Mount Eden Vineyards, and says "you will always find me making the argument that the Santa Cruz Mountains make the best red, and the best white, in the state of California."

It appears that not only do the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have great taste, they recognize a terrific—and underappreciated—wine region when they see it.

The Santa Cruz Mountains isn’t new to the California winemaking scene; the region was one of the first to earn American Viticultural Area (AVA) status, in 1981. Nestled between San Francisco and Monterey, the Santa Cruz Mountains region is defined by its wooded mountain peaks and coastal influence. Around 1,500 acres of vineyards (some planted as high as 2,600 feet above sea level) and more than 70 wineries are tucked into the hillsides, often accessible only by dirt roads.

Courtesy of Mount Eden Vineyards

The region is best known for its Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon, producing age-worthy wines with balanced acidity, complexity and minerality. Along with Mount Eden Vineyards, the Santa Cruz Mountains is home to rock star producers such as Ridge Vineyards (famous for Zinfandel and the Monte Bello Bordeaux-style blend), Pinot Noir specialist David Bruce Winery, and the historic Bargetto Winery, founded in 1933.

Despite its history and critical acclaim, the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA is still a little bit under the radar. That means you won’t need to fight the tour-bus crowd along the region’s wine trails, and you can still buy incredible wines at reasonable prices.

For more ways to relax, adventure, dine, and more like the newly married couple, get inspired by our ideas on how to experience California like a royal.