March 26, 2021
In her recent article featuring the top 25 wineries to visit in the Bay Area, San Francisco Chronicle wine writer Esther Mobley shares her recommendations for the best wineries to put on your tasting agenda this spring.
The wineries here produce excellent bottles, of course, but we’ve also chosen them for the experiences they offer — whether that involves striking scenery, succulent food pairings or, ever more important, thoughtful safety precautions.— Esther Mobley
Going wine tasting is one of the great Bay Area pastimes. Visiting a winery here is a chance to experience so many of the features that make this region special: the land’s natural beauty, a rich tradition of artisanal craftsmanship and a deep, abiding love for eating and drinking deliciously.
Best of all, world-class wines are now made in all corners of the Bay Area — not just in the famous appellations of Napa and Sonoma counties, but also on mountains overlooking Silicon Valley and in former military bases in the East Bay. Today’s Wine Country consists not only of palatial estates overlooking vineyards but also sleek tasting bars in downtown squares, industrial warehouses and, increasingly, sidewalks and parking lots, as urban wineries adapt to the needs of the COVID-19 era.
Here’s what she had to say about a visit to Monte Bello:
17100 Montebello Road, Cupertino
Ridge Vineyards is an anomaly in California wine. Despite the fact that it’s located on a remote mountain top in Cupertino, far away from the world-famous Napa Valley, it produces what many connoisseurs consider to be California’s greatest wine: a Cabernet Sauvignon blend called Monte Bello, named for the peak on which it’s grown. Visiting the property requires a shaky drive up these winding roads (and watch out for the cyclists), but it’s worth a pilgrimage for the spectacular views, rich history and superb wines. Not all visitors will get to taste the Monte Bello Cabernet, which sells for $225 a bottle, but the cool thing about Ridge is that it also produces quite a lot of interesting wines that are much more affordable, including a roster of old-vine, best-in-class Zinfandels. If Cupertino is out of the way for you, Ridge has a second tasting room in Healdsburg at its Lytton Springs estate — and reaching it does not require driving on any winding mountain roads.