When I was planning our trip to San Jose and all the wineries, restaurants, and attractions that we wanted to go to, I had some pretty lofty expectations for how many places we were going to cover in 3 days. All in all, the list included 20 wineries and 5 restaurants, and in the end, I was only able to visit 2 restaurants and 7 vineyards. I probably could’ve made an attempt to go to a 3rd restaurant, except, our visit to Manresa the first night was so incredible that we decided to return again on the 3rd night.
Many of the wineries I intended to visit ended up not having a tasting room or their tasting rooms were closed when we were in town. Cinnabar, Mt. Eden, and Silver Mountain were originally on the agenda, but they don’t have a tasting room and are only open on "passport" days. I also would’ve gone to Alghren, which a local wino recommended, except they were only open on Saturdays for tasting. Sigh.
On our last day, we had some slim pickings for wineries that we could actually go to so unfortunately, we ended up spending a lot of time in the car. On the positive side, all of the vineyards that we visited, including Beauregard, Testarossa, and Savannah-Chanelle, were actually very good.
Beauregard’s tasting room, the first we visited, was located on Santa Cruz’s wharf and we had a wonderful view of the Pacific Ocean as we tasted the wine. There were a couple drawbacks though. The salty and fishy smell of the air kind of interfered with our ability to smell and taste the wine, plus, we were horribly underdressed. We weren’t expecting the ocean to be so breezy and cool so we ended up being pretty cold the entire time.
On the other hand, the wines at Beauregard ended up being very good, so good in fact, that I ended up joining their wine club. This was the first winery that I visited that didn’t distribute outside of California, and since I liked the wines, I figured I’d sign up for their wine club. We also picked up a bottle of their Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, just to take advantage of the 30% discount that came with signing up for their wine club. I’m such a sucker.
I originally intended to visit a couple other wineries in Santa Cruz, but we were cold and we received high recommendations at Clos LaChance about Testarossa Vineyard, so we decided return back up Rt 17 away from the ocean to Los Gatos. The Testarossa Vineyard was situated in a historic Jesuit Monastery on the hillside in Los Gatos and of all the vineyards that we visited, I would say that this was the most…commercial, with lots of t-shirts and memorabilia for sale, and they even charged $10 for a tasting -- the most expensive that we paid.
The $10 tasting was worth it, though, because the Testarossa Pinot Noirs are great! The one Pinot Noir that we ended up buying a bottle of was the ’04 Bien Nacido, a very big, spicy Pinot that’ll put hair on your chest, or take it off, whatever you prefer. I would have bought more, except by this point, we were struggling to figure out how we were going to get the 22 bottles that we’d already bought previously on the plane. I’ll probably order some from the winery directly or hopefully, I can get in touch with their distributor in D.C. We had a nice lunch with some brie and a baguette and drank a couple glasses of the wine that we bought.
On another note, I couldn't get over how nice the weather was in Silicon
e Valley. A similar experience in D.C. this time of the year would lead to excessive sweating and heat exhaustion, but in California, we didn’t want to go inside.
After Testarossa, we headed a little bit Northwest to a winery called Savannah-Chanelle in the mountains outside of Saratoga. I can’t really say anything different about this vineyard that I haven’t said already about the previous vineyards for the experience was very similar. When we were done tasting the wine there, we were a little sad, for we knew that it was our last vineyard and we’d be returning home the following morning.
In the end, I think we picked the perfect length of stay for this wine region for we were able to go to all of the good wineries that actually have tasting room hours. Plus, I don’t think that we could’ve gone on tasting wine anymore. We were beat.
That night, we returned to Manresa. To save money, we drank the '96 Chardonnay that we bought at David Bruce, althought we still ordered 4 courses. The meal was just as good as the first night we ate there and I couldn't think of a better way to end our trip to the area.