The west side of the Silicon Valley, where the land rises to meet the rumpled, wooded folds of the Santa Cruz Mountains, has become an inviting wine-country destination. The charming village of Saratoga is one of the region’s hubs, with in-town tasting rooms including Cinnabar, where you can savor small plates and award-winning Mourvedre on a shaded patio, and Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards, where the historic Fruit House tasting rooms dates back to 1922. For a real treat, check the calendar and catch an evening of entertainment at the historic Mountain Winery. The legendary Paul Masson, who emigrated to San Francisco from Burgundy, France, in the late 1800s, acquired a Saratoga vineyard where he developed fine California sparkling wines. Today, his winery is the site of summertime concerts in an intimate venue under the stars—a worthy splurge.
Those are just the beginning, though, of wine offerings in Silicon Valley. Morgan Hill, in the Santa Clara Valley, has 15 wineries within minutes from downtown, including Emma Lily Vineyards, Morgan Hill Cellars, and Gugliemo Winery (the elegant Clos LaChance, 10 minutes down the road in San Martin, offers a “Time for Wine” concert series on Thursday nights). For tastings in a more urban environment, downtown San Jose has Divine Winery Tasting Room and Coterie Cellars; the city is also home to J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, and they have a tasting room in The Alameda historic district.
Los Gatos, home of the aforementioned Mountain Winery, also has the celebrated Testarossa Winery, which has been named Best Winery in Silicon Valley for 11 years running by San Jose’s The Mercury News. Also calling Los Gatos home are Left Bend, Regale, and Rootstock wine bar, where over 40 wines are poured by the glass (there are also locations in Mountain View and Cupertino).
Two other Santa Clara Valley towns can serve as convenient home bases for exploring Silicon Valley wineries: Gilroy and Cupertino. Gilroy, located about a half-hour’s drive down 101 from San Jose, is convenient to more than 35 family-owned wineries and tasting rooms, including Satori Cellars and Verde Vineyards (both dog-friendly) right in town; pick up the useful Santa Clara Valley Wineries Map to chart your own path. Cupertino’s history with the industry goes back to the 19th century, and that history lives on with longtime wineries such as Pinchetti Brothers Winery—which dates back to the 1880s—and Ridge Vineyards, established in 1962, as well as a newer generation of producers that dot the area.