To make un-fine wine, simply place grapes beneath a silk pillow, repeatedly mash your head against it, and then wring the pillowcase into a nearby mouth. Taste traditionally produced fine wines with today’s Groupon: for $12 you get one ticket (a $25 value) to Pathway to Pinot Paradise, a self-guided wine-tasting tour, on March 26.
Twenty-five wineries from the collection of Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers have opened their gates and popped their corks for nomadic oenophiles on a journey across a vino wonderland. Beverage-seeking travelers can paint their palates in distinctive flavors with an assortment of barrel tastings, vertical tastings, and library wine tastings curated by unusually boisterous librarians. Fermented grape fanatics will revel in the plenitude of pinot noirs, a signature variety of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Ticket-holders may mosey between an unlimited number of wineries between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., but they must provide their own crazy straws.
Designated drivers are recommended and will not be required to purchase tickets.
Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association
At 2,600 feet up in the Santa Cruz Mountains, one might expect to find sprawling views of the ocean and surrounding forest and not flourishing vineyards. Yet there are more than 70 wineries dappling the hills at various altitudes, privy to the dewy, cooling breezes of the sea and the richness of the rocky soil. The San Francisco Chronicle speaks to their scattered presence, deeming them "less a cohesive wine region than a patchwork of vineyards." Still, this characteristic isolation has resulted in "a perfect laboratory for winemaking not held hostage to fashion"—no one style dominates in this rustic setting.
Pinot noirs and chardonnays populate the western front, and the east yields cabernets, merlots, and zinfandels. The majority of the vineyards are small and family owned—a fact reflected in their meticulously bottled libations and the matching sweaters of their holiday photos—but though they exist in chosen hermitage, many of them welcome visitors to their scenic sites. They host weddings, festivals, and open events such as Pathway to Pinot Paradise, a self-guided tour of the pinot noir hotspots.