The Santa Cruz Mountains appellation encompasses approximately 480,000 acres, from Woodside in the north to Watsonville (Mount Madonna) in the south, some 60 miles as the crow flies and 100 miles to drive. Within this area are some 60+ wineries and over 200 small vineyards growing approximately 1300 acres of winegrapes, divided about ¼ evenly among Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and ‘other’ varietals (most notably Merlot and Zinfandel). A single vineyard in some appellations has as much if not more acreage as we have in our entire appellation! Our winegrapes are rare and in demand.
Our broad region is marked by diverse microclimates: warm on the eastern (inland) side where Zinfandel, Cabernet, and Merlot predominate; and on the coastal side and ridgetops, cooled by ocean breezes and fog, cooler climate varietals such as Pinot Noir are grown. Soils are varied (decomposed rock, clay, loam, limestone); an abundant mineral content often releases a fresh, mineral character to the wines.
The region’s vineyards actively support sustainable winegrape growing. Our winegrowers have used best vineyard and sustainable practices, including cover crops, erosion control, canopy management, for decades. Since the first sustainable workshops in 2004 the region has seen an increase in the adoption of sustainable vineyard practices. Some have adopted alternative energy such as solar and biodiesel. Several vineyards grow organically, and one is certified organic by the CCOF.
Casanova VineyardsCasanova Vineyards
Chaine d’Or VineyardsChaine d’Or VineyardsContact: Nicholas Vonderheyden
Chaine d’Or is a small winery in Woodside, and we are celebrating our 30th anniversary this year.
In 1985 Anne stood on the steps of the Redwood City courthouse and made a bid for a small property that was being sold in foreclosure and which bordered our home. That was the start of Chaine d’Or Vineyards. As soon as we acquired the land we began the process of clearing it of the overgrown poison oak and weeds. After the clearing we hired a bulldozer and deep ripped the hillside, followed by planting a cover crop of PurpleVetch to improve the soil. The next year we turned under the vetch and planted the grapes, primarily Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon together with smaller quantities of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot to be blended into the red wine. We installed the irrigation system, and put up the trellis, and went through a few trials calming a neighbor who didn’t like the look of a “naked” vineyard.
After a couple of years we realized that we really were going to be able to grow grapes, and quite a few of them. That thought then was the realization that we would need a little winery, and so we built one by expanding our home and tucking it underneath the living room.
Much in the tradition of the small European vigneron, we grow grapes and make wine primarily for local people and the occasional visitor who happens to find us. And, in the same tradition, word of our quality product has spread via the – ahem – grapevine. We’ve been winning awards and gaining in popularity. And for most of our time we’ve been doing all of our own work. Anne has been the winemaker and Jerry has been driving the tractor.
But in 2007 Paul and Stefania Romero joined the Chaine d’Or family and took over all of the management and operations of the effort. They continued until 2015 when Nicolas Vonderheyden took over as Manager and Vigneron.
Lago Lomita VineyardsLago Lomita VineyardsContact: Mark and Robin Porter
Radonich Brothers VineyardsRadonich Brothers VineyardsContact: Randolph & Bradford Radonich
Located in the historic Santa Cruz Mountains above Los Gatos, California at an elevation of 1,980 feet, our focus is on estate grown Pinot Noir, handcrafted in small lots using traditional methods, and aged in the finest French Oak barrels.
We produce a truly exceptional Pinot Noir that reflects the special characteristics of the Santa Cruz Mountain wine growing region.