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Horstman vineyard in San Lorenzo Valley, turn of the century. (Photo courtesy Late Harvest Project.)

 

The Santa Cruz Mountains has been recognized as a premium wine producing region since the late 1800's when local winegrowers first began to win acclaim for their wines in national and international competitions. Few of these original wineries survived prohibition, but many new wineries have developed since the 1940's.

In 1981 the Santa Cruz Mountains Viticultural Appellation became federally recognized, one of the first American viticultural areas to be defined by geophysical and climatic factors. The appellation encompasses the Santa Cruz Mountain range, from Half Moon Bay in the north, to Mount Madonna in the south. The east and west boundaries are defined by elevation, extending down to 800 feet in the east and 400 feet in the west.


Wine grapes in the Glenwood area, c. 1900. (Photo courtesy Late Harvest Project.)

The number of wineries and the acreage planted in the Santa Cruz Mountains has increased dramatically in recent years as the area has become recognized as a unique grape-growing region. The individual microclimates, marine influence, mountain terrain, distinctive soils, and low crop levels, all contribute to the production of intensely concentrated fruit.

There are now over forty, small, family-owned wineries in the region. The small size of these operations allows the winemakers the opportunity to handcraft their wines and to maximize the potential of the grapes. The same spirit of innovation, independence, and determination that distinguished the great winemakers of the 19th century lives on today.

More to come...


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