At Christmas, my husband bought us passports from the Santa Cruz Mountain Wine Growers Association (SCMWGA). These passports, filled with over 50 participating wineries, entitle the bearers to one free tasting at each spot during normal operating hours or the SCMWGA special Passport Days, which happen four times a year and are the best opportunity to catch a tasting of the wineries not open to the public. Our first time out, in March, we made our way north up Soquel-San Jose Road. This time, we were able to get out on Passport Day and thus chose a route of wineries only offering tastings that day that followed Bear Creek Road on the other side of Highway 17.
First stop, however, was actually an urban one on the way, Travieso Winery (165 Cristich Lane, Campbell), largely chosen because we needed to gas up and it was nearby the exit. Hey, opportunity knocks, y’all.
Notable for that amazing alien placard, Travieso also had a party going on with mostly a crowd of regular visitors about. Our wine taster was lovely, as was being surrounded by their many barrels of wine.
It’s a welcoming spot and easily accessed, though you forgo the gorgeous views that the mountains offer, of course. I didn’t find any wines to my palate there, so we trudged on. Who am I kidding? We’d trudge on regardless.
Stop #2 was Silvertip Vineyards (16644 Zayante Road, Los Gatos), whose tasting was held in a meadow clearing under a tent. The nearby estate house and vines were gorgeous.
And the wine tasters, brothers in the Nelson family that owns the estate, were at the helm. All of their wines are produced with grapes grown on the property, and they can point out to you which are which from a distance. Their wines surprised me, mainly because I enjoyed their 2010 Petit Pinot Noir the most of the bunch (unintended pun, I swear). Normally, I don’t like petit offerings, but this one pleased me—I’ll review it at a later date.by