Wine Lover: Get to know Santa Cruz region wine districts
by Auston Twohig
Jun 10, 2010 | 1587 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Every major wine region in the world has subdistricts that help define where grapes are planted and what styles of wine you can expect to find.

Bordeaux, for example, is a major wine region (obviously), but within Bordeaux, you will find smaller, more defined appellations, such as Medoc, Graves or Pomerol.

Napa is the same way. Within the main, rather large region called Napa Valley, you will find subdistricts, called Rutherford, Oakville, Stags’ Leap and so on.

These subdistricts are extremely important, because they truly help consumers decide where the best wines in the world come from, and they help pinpoint magnificent vineyards. In Burgundy, there are vineyards literally next door to each other that produce wines diverse enough to warrant vastly different price ranges.

Closer to home, the Santa Cruz region stretches all the way from Half Moon Bay to Gilroy. There are wineries strewn everywhere from Saratoga to Gilroy, Cupertino and the absolute summit of the Santa Cruz Mountains range. Anyone who has spent any significant amount of time here knows how different the climates and soils are in these varying regions.

With that much differentiation in “terroir,” the Santa Cruz region must have some more specific, well-defined subdistricts right?

Try again.

Some people separate our region between the west side and east side of the mountains, but even that is a far cry from what we need. If Santa Cruz wants to fancy itself a major player in the massive region called “California,” then it needs to redefine itself.

Santa Cruz wine is some of the best in the world. There’s no doubt about that. Our region is diverse and exceptionally unique. By defining important subdistricts in the Santa Cruz region, we can better legitimize our claim to incredible wine. It will help our wineries market their boutique wines, and it will help put us on the radar of many wine connoisseurs.

In the next few columns, I will specify what I think these subregions look like and why. Places like Corralitos, Scotts Valley and the Saratoga Foothills all need their own specification on wine labels. That way, local vintners could market their terroir and not just this massive wine region broadly called Santa Cruz.

Austin Twohig is a certified sommelier and partner in The Santa Cruz Experience, which conducts winery tours in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Contact him at
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