Braving the curves of Highway 17 offers especially good grapes from over two dozen wineries and food rewards these next two weekends. Dig the non-traditional "here's our garage, taste some wine" spots that may or may not include om-inducing ocean views. "Roots That Rock" is the 24th annual Santa Cruz Mountains Vintners' Festival and covers Santa Clara, San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties -- this weekend, that means barrel & regular sipping opportunities in tasting rooms that are often family run on the east side of the mountains. Next weekend, the festival is on the west side of the mountains and includes a daytime festival with food, live music and a downtown Santa Cruz street faire (their spelling, not ours).
Advance tickets for both weekends costs $43 -- hey, you get the keepsake glass, too. Or pay $50 in person. Next Sunday's faire -- our must-do for Sunday after reading the newspapers -- is $8 to enter and nabs you one wine glass. Then it's $1 for each tasting ticket; the wine tastings require two to five tickets a pop. For sure, bring on the cash.
The lack of pretension and potential views of big trees that smell nice at many of these wineries sways us into peace-love-and-happiness mode. We love the Santa Cruz boardwalk as much as The Lost Boys did, but it's suh-weet to have a more adult and decadent reason to visit the 831 area code sans pink popcorn in our teeth.
Megan Metz, executive director of the Santa Cruz Mountains Wine Growers Association says of the two-plus decade event, "This year's Roots That Rock Vintners' Festival is an evolution of previous events and a great opportunity for wine lovers to enjoy our region's wines by touring and tasting at the individual wineries located throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains, as well as at a new street faire in Downtown Santa Cruz that will feature local wine, artisan foods, music and live entertainment. Our unique mountain terrain, marine influence, varied micro-climates and distinctive biodiversity combine to produce some of the finest conditions in the world for winegrowing. Roots That Rock is a fantastic opportunity to connect with our region's great winegrowers and their award-winning wines."