By Laura Ness
Romantic Saratoga is imbued with an elegant tranquility that belies its proximity to the bustle of Silicon Valley. It’s not just a place, it’s a state of mind.
The village that offers great wine tasting also welcomes you to browse boutiques on the tree-lined streets, get a Thai massage, sample Saratoga Chocolates, buy wine-inspired gifts at Vine Life, or indulge in comprehensive beauty treatments at Preston Wynne Spa.
Visit Ruthe Roberts Tasting Collective for a warm greeting by Ruthe herself, and a flight from local wineries without tasting rooms, like Comanche Cellars, Naumann and Perrucci. Ruthe offers a nice selection of bubbles, too.
Meander up the street to the M4 tasting room, where you’ll find wines from legendary winemaker, Michael Martella, the force behind Thomas Fogarty wines for nearly 30 years, and the minerally, terroir-driven wines of Michael Michaud, handcrafted from the limestone-replete Chalone appellation in the Gabilan Mountains, on the East side of Salinas. Hang out on the M4 patio and enjoy a snack from the nearby Basin restaurant along with a glass of Martella GTA, a lively blend of Grenache and Tempranillo.
Literally right next door is the Big Basin Vineyards tasting room and patio, where you’ll find some of the best Pinots and Syrah’s crafted in the Santa Cruz Mountains by winemaker, Bradley Brown. The place is a virtual photo gallery ablaze with shots of the mountaintop estate vineyards, just a couple of miles from Big Basin State Park. Big Basin Vineyard’s highly acclaimed Rattlesnake Rock Syrah is a must try, along with the elegant Coastview Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, brimming with minerality.
Stop in at neighboring Cinnabar for a taste of Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay and Pinot, plus live music and food trucks on weekends. www.cinnabarwine.com
Just a short drive out of Saratoga takes you to Cooper Garrod, where you can enjoy a horseback tour of organically farmed vineyards, or simply walk them on foot, enjoying a view to Silicon Valley with a kindler, gentler eye. Enjoy a perfumey Viognier, Cabernet Franc and red blends called “Test Pilot,” named for the winery’s founder, George Cooper, a NASA pilot.
Just down Pierce Road is the spectacular House Family Vineyards, high atop the Saratoga hills, with a dizzying perspective of the entire Silicon Valley. Amidst Old Oak Vineyard, planted by high tech pioneer, Dave House, is the tasting deck, where you can enjoy handcrafted estate Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet and Merlot, all made by legendary winemaker, Jeffrey Patterson of Mount Eden fame.
Also outside Saratoga is Charles Usher Winery, open every day for tasting with a 48-hour advance reservation. Taste an impressive array of handcrafted wines with gourmet cheeses, nuts and breads, beginning at $20 per person.
Saratoga Oaks Lodge: Next to the Cinnabar tasting room, and a stone’s throw from many dining destinations.
The Inn at Saratoga: Large rooms, near Bella Saratoga, many shops and Big Basin Coffee.
The Basin: Creative Mediterranean-inspired cuisine and a great bar. www.thebasin.com
Bella Saratoga: California cuisine and outdoor dining on the Victorian’s porch and patio. http://bellasaratoga.com
The Plumed Horse: Michelin-starred, the bar is romance personified and the wine selection, magnificent.
Ristorante Da Mario: Authentic Cucina Italiana, with homemade everything. www.ristorantedamario.com
Sent Sovi: Seasonal and stylish French-inspired cuisine.