California’s Mediterranean climate is ideal for growing grapes for wine. Wine aficionados are spoiled for options in the Silicon Valley region. Here are three world-class wineries in our own backyard.
J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines
Written by Michelle Rund
The best wines often come from an individual truly devoted to the craft, and that could not be truer than for Jerry Lohr at J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines. Jerry came to the Central Coast 40 years ago to plant grapes in what was then a relatively unknown growing region. Using the agricultural knowledge he gained from having grown up on a farm in South Dakota, Jerry planted his first vines in Monterey County. Today, J. Lohr has 3,700 acres of vineyards across Paso Robles, Monterey County, and the St. Helena appellation of Napa Valley. Headquartered in San Jose, J. Lohr recently celebrated its 40-year anniversary as a family-owned, family-operated establishment. The winery is also part of the Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing program, which indicates an ongoing commitment to sustainable and environmentally friendly practices.
J. Lohr’s presence in San Jose has been growing in recent years. As businesses have opened around The Alameda, more and more people are discovering the winery’s tasting room, which lies just off the main drag of the burgeoning area. J. Lohr engages with the local community as well, hosting wine and cheese evenings during the summer, as well as wine and chocolate nights, corporate dinners, and small private events throughout the year. The winery’s Paso Robles location is not to be missed: it boasts a three-acre photovoltaic tracking system—a solar energy grid that not only provides sustainable energy to the vineyard but also creates a beautiful light show when the midmorning sun strikes on a clear day. So whether you’re in San Jose, Monterey, Napa, or Paso Robles, be sure to take a moment to enjoy some wine with J. Lohr.
Written by Flora Moreno de Thompson
The next time you’ve got some friends in town and don’t know where to take them, drive up Congress Springs Road to Savannah-Chanelle Vineyards in Saratoga for a bit of wine tasting and to take in the beautiful scenery.
Named after owners Kellie and Mike Ballard’s two daughters, Savannah-Chanelle already had a storied history long before they bought the winery in 1996. It was originally purchased in 1901 by Pierre Pourroy, a French immigrant. He built the stately family villa on the property overlooking the vineyards and named it Montmartre—builders misspelled it as Monmartre, and you can still see the typo in the building’s entryway. The winery barely survived the Prohibition era, and changed hands a few times before being purchased by the Ballard family.
Perched high in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Savannah-Chanelle Vineyards has a great view of the Silicon Valley on a clear day. The surrounding vineyards and mountains are a beautiful backdrop to experience the winery’s famous Pinot Noirs.
Visitors to the winery can sample wines in the Redwood Tasting Room from 11am to 5pm everyday, with live music available on Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 5pm. The scenic grounds make for a great spot to have a picnic or to sit in one of their Adirondack chairs and enjoy a nice glass of wine.
Regale Winery and Vineyards
Written by Michelle Runde
Many areas in California are renowned for their impressive wineries, but most people don’t think of the South Bay as one of those regions. Thanks to Regale Winery and Vineyards, Los Gatos can boast such a destination. Larry Schaadt bought the vacant land in 2005 with a vision of creating a winery that would bring the classic Italian-Napa elegance to the South Bay. “I wanted to build a place where people would feel like they’d driven hundreds of miles to a beautiful winery, when really it was just a few miles away,” says Larry. Regale’s primary focus is Pinot Noir, but it also produces Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Many of the grapes are grown outside the estate, in the Anderson Valley, Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, Santa Rita Hills, Napa Valley, and Santa Cruz Mountains. Regale even bottles its own olive oil from a grove of Italian olive trees that Larry planted on the estate.
Regale is a popular choice for private events, birthday parties, and corporate functions, and also hosts several events for its wine club members each year. Regale does not sell its wine to restaurants or stores; the winery is committed to keeping production at a small scale. “We’ve chosen to make just enough wine each year for our members and our events. Anyone can go to a store to buy wine nowadays; for us, the allure is the experience of tasting wine in a vineyard setting,” says Larry. When you’re craving a classic California wine experience but don’t want to drive to Napa, head to Regale for a glass. You won’t be disappointed.