Santa Cruz Mountains AVA

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Santa Cruz Mountains AVA
Wine region
TypeAmerican Viticultural Area
Year established1981[1]
CountryUnited States
Part ofCalifornia
Sub-regionsBen Lomond Mountain AVA
Total areaapp. 322,000 acres
Size of planted vineyards1,500 acres (6 km2)[2]
Grapes producedCabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignane, Chardonnay, Dolcetto, Grenache, Malbec, Malvasia, Merlot, Mondeuse, Mourvedre, Nebbiolo, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Pinot noir, Sangiovese, Sauvignon blanc, Syrah, Viognier, Zinfandel[2]
No. of wineries76[2]

The Santa Cruz Mountains AVA is an American Viticultural Area centered on the Santa Cruz Mountains. It includes three counties in California: Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and San Mateo. Recognized as an AVA in 1981, the Santa Cruz Mountains Appellation was among the first to be defined by its mountain topography. Based on elevation, it largely follows the fog line along the coast, extending down to 800 feet (240 m) in the east (San Francisco Bay side) and 400 feet (120 m) in the west (Monterey Bay side), and encompasses the highest ridgetops at 3000+ elevation.[2]

The mountainous terrain, the Pacific Ocean, and the nearby San Francisco Bay have wide-ranging effects on the appellation, creating myriad microclimates in the region - depending on the elevation of the land, on which side of the mountains are the vineyards, the effects of fog, sun exposure, soil type, etc.


The region is bounded by the Santa Cruz Mountain range, from Half Moon Bay and Woodside in the north, to Mount Madonna and Watsonville in the south. The appellation encompasses some 322,000 acres (1,300 km2) extending through Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.[3]

Wine regions[edit]

Santa Cruz Mountains' subregions are Skyline, Saratoga/Los Gatos, Summit, the Coastal Foothills (above Santa Cruz), Ben Lomond Mountain, and Corralitos/Pleasant Valley.[4]

Vineyards and grape varieties[edit]

There are over 200 small vineyards totaling only app. 1,500 acres (6.1 km2) of wine grape varieties, divided about ¼ evenly among Pinot noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and other varieties (most notably Merlot and Zinfandel). The region’s vineyards and wineries actively support sustainable practices, including cover crops, erosion control, canopy management, solar, biodiesel. Several vineyards grow organically; presently four are certified organic by the CCOF and more are in the process of certification.[4]

Wines and wineries[edit]

Some of the oldest wineries in California are in this region. Two wineries from the Santa Cruz Mountain region participated in the 1976 Judgment of Paris wine tasting with the 1973 David Bruce Winery Chardonnay placing 10th in the white wine tasting and the 1971 Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon placing 5th in the red wine tasting.[5]

Other notable wineries in the appellation include: Mount Eden, Hallcrest Vineyards, Byington Vineyard, Bargetto Winery, Thomas Fogarty Winery, Kathryn Kennedy Winery, Mountain Winery and Savannah-Chanelle Vineyards.


  1. ^ Code of Federal Regulations. "§ 9.31 Santa Cruz Mountains." Archived 2012-02-12 at the Wayback Machine Title 27: Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; Part 9 — American Viticultural Areas; Subpart C — Approved American Viticultural Areas. Retrieved Jan. 4, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d Appellation America (2007). "Santa Cruz Mountains (AVA): Appellation Description". Retrieved Jan. 4, 2008.
  3. ^ "Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association". Archived from the original on 2006-05-18. Retrieved 2006-05-27.
  4. ^ a b "Viticulture Assn. of the Santa Cruz Mountains". Retrieved 2010-05-20.
  5. ^ G. Tabers The Judgment of Paris pg 305 Simon & Schuster 2005 ISBN 0-7432-4751-5

External links[edit]