The Santa Cruz Mountains wine region has played a pivotal role in the history of California winemaking ever since the 1870s when Paul Masson and Charles Lefranc planted our first vineyards from cuttings transplanted from Burgundy. Recognized as an AVA in 1981, we are the first California appellation to be defined by its mountain topography. Today, our winegrowing community comprises nearly 300 small growers and wineries who are united by a spirit of independence and shared passion to make elegant, distinctive wines that reflect the region’s unique terroir.
Our region is planted to approximately 1300 acres of winegrapes, divided evenly among Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and “Other Varietals” (most notably Merlot and Zinfandel). Our wines come from high-altitude, small vineyard lots surrounded by Redwood trees and native chaparral, growing atop an ancient seabed overlooking the Pacific Ocean. These growing conditions give the wines a distinct regional identity, characterized by fresh flavors, bright fruit, and minerality. As active supporters of sustainable winegrape growing, we have observed best practices for vineyard sustainability for decades.
As most of our wineries are small and family-owned with limited distribution, the best way to experience them is in the place where they’re grown. Visitors can easily reach our many wineries by driving in from nearby San Jose or San Francisco. Contrasted with these large cities, the Santa Cruz Mountains is a rural region defined by charming small towns and an independent spirit that welcomes those with a taste for the extraordinary.