best Semillons, made from old-vines Livermore Valley fruit. In a blind
tasting of the 2005 vintage, you could easily mistake the aromatic, concentrated, balanced
wine for French. Ahlgren also makes excelent Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah.
The winery's tasting room is open only on Saturdays from noon to 4pm. The winery is about 60 miles from SF, in a sparsely populated area a
few miles north of Boulder Creek. As long as you're schlepping all the way
down there, you should also visit the area's major tourist attraction,
Castle Rock State Park.
The most scenic route from San Francisco is to take 280 south, head
west on 92 toward Half Moon Bay, and turn left on 35 aka Skyline
Boulevard. Stay on 35 until you you cross Highway 9. After another
2.5 miles, turn into the Castle Rock parking lot on the right. If you're
up for a serious hike, the 4.7-mile loop trail is one of the best in
the Bay Area -- see Bay Area Hiker for details. Otherwise, take the easy two-mile hike down to the waterfall viewing platform and back.
To get to the winery, head back north up 35, turn left on 9 toward
Boulder Creek, and go about seven miles. After the turnoff for 236/Big Basin, you'll have about 8 tenths of a mile more to go. Ahlgren is
at 20320 Hwy 9, just before a hairpin turn. You can't see the winery
itself from the road, and it's easy to miss the sign. You can't
necessarily trust your GPS, either; ours took us halfway to Boulder
Creek before we realized we'd overshot.