Santa Cruz: Wineries and Field-to-table Dining on the Coast
By Serena Lorien
Situated 70 miles south of San Francisco on Highway 1 lies the beautiful coastal city of Santa Cruz, California. The birthplace of surfing on the North American continent, Santa Cruz offers areas with varying waves, which makes it suitable for all surfers from novice to the more experienced. Here you can walk for miles among the beautiful ancient Redwood trees and visit some of the oldest vineyards in the country. Visiting the local farmers and talking to them about growing their food really gave me a sense of the care and love that they have when they tend the land.
Wine Tasting in Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz’s unique, mountainous terrain with its proximity to the ocean creates diverse microclimates and soils, making it the perfect growing ground of some of the best wine grapes in the United States. There are over 80 wineries in the area that produce some of the most distinct Pinot Noirs, Cabernet Sauvignons and clean, crisp Chardonnays.
There are also many different environments to wine taste: from family-owned vineyards on the summit of the Santa Cruz Mountains to the bustling wharf and downtown, where you can enjoy tasting at some of the best restaurants in the area.
I visited a family-owned winery with lovely outdoor grounds where I could sit at the picnic benches and enjoy gazing out over the lush green vineyard. Santa Cruz locals are health-conscious as well. The winery I visited keeps sulfites in their wines to a minimum, which was noticeable in the superb taste of their product.
Fresh Produce at the Farmers Market
Visiting the downtown Farmers Market was a wonderful experience; almost every stall offered organic produce, and many of the award-winning vendors featured some of the most delicious food I’ve tasted. Walking around the market, you are treated to samples of some of the juiciest and ripest fruits from peaches to apples and berries. I also sampled some raw, organic pomegranate juice, which I couldn’t resist purchasing along with the delectable peaches.
There were also meat and fish vendors, and even a furniture stall selling repurposed furniture made from wine barrels. Aside from the wonderful produce on offer, you will find local musicians, artists and a perfect place to grab some lunch. One of the stalls was a pizza stand where they actually bring in a brick-fire oven to make fresh pizzas using vegetables and meat toppings from the organic and fresh stands around the market. The downtown market is only one of five markets on offer in Santa Cruz County, so make sure to enjoy this wonderful activity.
Dining in Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz shows the same dedication to healthy-living with the food in their restaurants as they do in their markets, and many places offer field-to-table dinners with fresh, seasonal produce. I ate at one of the most popular lunch spots in town, The Picnic Basket, where I enjoyed a tasty salad whilst overlooking the ocean. For dinner, I visited another favourite downtown, Assembly, where I had a delicious Charcuterie and cheese plate with a crisp Pinot Grigio, a perfect end to my day.
Beyond the amazing wine and food you can feast on, Santa Cruz also offers its visitors 300 days of sunshine a year, beautiful beaches, an admission-free boardwalk – where you can enjoy rides and play games – train tours and hiking through the stunning Redwood forests. Santa Cruz really is a brilliant holiday destination for all the family.
For more information, please visit us:
Official Santa Cruz Travel Information
When you goAgri-tourism
Santa Cruz County Conference and Visitors Council