Pack your bags, we're going to Santa Cruz

We love the Santa Cruz Mountains.
America’s most important vineyard, an inspired group of natural producers, and a true who’s-who of collectible talent are all from a place few people have actually visited. With its highly unique orientation–positioned high above the fog line yet right up against the Pacific–Santa Cruz is both a secret and a source for the best American wine.

Ridge Vineyards in the Santa Cruz mountains, overlooking Silicon Valley 📷 via @ridgevineyards


This area is simply untouched. Undeveloped. Unlike most California appellations, these mountain vineyards are nestled between 7 state parks and without a proper ‘wine trail’–no row of tasting rooms, no tourist-filled buses or downtown scene to finish off a day of tasting. Just windy wooded roads, mountain vineyards and overgrown trails.

Ascending to visit a producer here feels more like a mountain retreat than a winery visit.


Late-ripening or early-ripening varieties...both? There’s a reason why we see both beautiful Pinot Noir and stunning Bordeaux varieties here–these vineyards dot the San Andreas fault. On one side of the ridge: Pinot. On the other: Cabernet (we'd argue it's the world's best).

The tectonics that formed these mountains churned up some of California's most uniquely exposed soils. And combined with the high altitude and long hang times in the Cali sun, there is crazy depth and complexity to be found here.

Despite a mind-boggling variety in grapes and styles, the wines of Santa Cruz all have a simmering undertone of wild energy that we can't get enough of.


Between the work being done by John Raytek at CERITAS, and the seminal wines of ARNOT-ROBERTS, Santa Cruz is the source for many of America’s top producers.

These vineyards have legacy–the grapes at MOUNT EDEN VINEYARDS (which have gone on to supply coveted clones around the state) were planted by one of California's seminal vineyard architects, Martin Ray. And Raytek's successor at LIOCO was Drew Huffline, the same pair of talented hands at the wheel of TRAIL MARKER WINE CO.

Of course, we can’t possibly talk about Santa Cruz without:


America’s most important wine. From the planting of MONTE BELLO in the 1880s, to high marks for ‘71 Monte Bello in the Judgment of Paris, to its persistence as the most consistently exceptional American red. RIDGE makes a mark on those who taste it: it is an inflection point for true lovers of Cabernet.

Winemaker (and icon) Paul Draper keeps things classic and beautiful, just as the wine famously was in 1971. Alongside the vineyards on Mt. Eden, Monte Bello is an exuberant expression of the balance found in Santa Cruz. High elevation. Warm Cali sun. It cannot be found anywhere else in the world.


Santa Cruz isn't just home to history–a new generation of extraordinarily skilled winemakers are bringing us fresh expressions of Santa Cruz. Now we're even more in love!

FLOREZ is farthest left from center, showing us what the area looks like with deep experimentation. The result is tasty: herbal Chardonnay, smoky, hazelnutty Pinot Noir, and a crushably peachy Picpoul-meets-PInot co-ferment.

MADSON's silky Pinot Noir is essentially Santa Cruz forest air in a bottle.

And we have to give a nod to MARGINS, which is currently out of stock but a highly recommend producer to seek out for the most elegantly raw expressions of Santa Cruz fruit.