Santa Cruz Mountain Wine Trail: Bear Creek


Written by:

Joe Becerra

Last updated:

The view from Thomas Fogarty
The view from Thomas Fogarty

Highway 35 to Bear Creek Road  to Santa Cruz

The Santa Cruz Mountain Wine Trail provides a unique wine country experience. Discover fantastic wineries among the Redwoods and mountains of Santa Cruz. Take your time to experience the marvel of the Santa Cruz Mountains and these exciting wineries.

Top Wineries to Visit on This Wine Trail

  • Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards – Spectacular view & tasting room
  • Mindego Ridge Vineyard – 100% estate grown, single vineyard Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
  • Byington Winery & Vineyard – Elegant winery and fantastic setting
  • David Bruce Winery – Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir
  • Burrell School Vineyards – Located in historic 1890 Schoolhouse

Dining and Lodging Recommendations

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From San Francisco, take Highway 280 to Woodside Road, Highway 84 Exit. Follow Highway 84 West. Highway 84 takes you through the small town of Woodside and up the mountains to Skyline Blvd, Highway 35. Turn left onto Highway 35. Drive 4.5 miles to the Thomas Fogarty Winery. It will be on your left. Be ready to make a sharp left into the winery. If you need to pick up a picnic lunch, try Roberts Market in the town of Woodside.

Winery Descriptions, Driving Directions, Tasting Room Hours

Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards
An eye-catching view will meet you as you drive through the gates of the Thomas Forgerty Winery. Here, amid a forest of Redwood trees, are beautiful acres of vineyards overlooking the Peninsula and the Bay Area. The tasting room has one of the most beautiful views of any tasting room you will find. Thomas Fogarty, a famous cardiologist, started the winery as a hobby and began producing wines in 1981. The winery produces excellent estate Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and small amounts of Merlot. The climate in the Santa Cruz Mountains is ideal for growing these varieties. The winery also makes a great Gewurztraminer from vineyards in Monterey. The days are warm and the nights cool.

Mindego Ridge Vineyard
Mindego Ridge is an optional side trip from the Fogarty winery. You may want to visit Thomas Fogarty and Mindego Ridge on a one-day trip, and visit the following three wineries on another wine country outing. Mindego Ridge is a small 10-acre Santa Cruz Mountains vineyard perched on a south-facing, shale-laced slope 8 miles from the Pacific. Mindego is farmed and cared for by husband and wife owners David & Stacey Gollnick. From Fogarty, continue south on Highway 35 and turn right at Alpine Road. Turn right at Mindego Hill Road. Tastings are by appointment only. Book your tasting at the Mindego Ridge Vineyard Website. 

Byington Winery
Travel to Highway 9 towards Boulder Creek. As you enter the town of Boulder Creek, you will see a sign for Bear Creek Road. Turn left and travel about 7.5 miles to the Byington Winery. Drive carefully on these beautiful mountains roads. Byington will come up quickly on your right. This is one of the most magnificent wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains. There is a small picnic area that overlooks a stunning view of the mountains. The acres of vineyards surrounding the winery are Pinot Noir. This area receives intense heat during the summer days, and at night the temperatures cool down considerably, making for ideal growing conditions for the Pinot Noir grape. The winery does not use any irrigation system, relying on the rainfall it receives during the winter and spring months. The winery produces only about 250 cases of Pinot Noir a year from eight estate acres. They also make some very good wines from grapes acquired from other vineyards.

David Bruce Winery
Continue on Bear Creek Road just a very short distance (1/4 mile) to David Bruce. The David Bruce winery is famous for its Pinot Noir wines. Their Pinot Noir wines account for sixty percent of their wine production, producing them from the Santa Cruz Mountains (about six acres), Sonoma County, and the Central Coast Wine Regions. You might want to try comparing the various Pinots to get an idea of the subtle differences among the various wine regions. The winery has a long list of active wine club members. Not only do these members receive special shipments of Pinot Noir, but they get to attend the many special events held throughout the year by the winery. Besides the Pinot Noir, David Bruce also bottles varietals of Petite Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Chardonnay.

Leave David Bruce and continue on Bear Creek Road until you get to Highway 17. At this point, you can head straight to Santa Cruz and its famous Boardwalk via Highway 17 (just follow the signs).  If you are not heading to Santa Cruz, try Burrell School Vineyards.

Burrell School Vineyards
Continue on Bear Creek Road to Summit (Highway 35). Take Summit for about 5 miles to Burrell School Vineyards. To the right of the red schoolhouse is the tasting room. The deck outside the tasting room provides a dramatic view of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Tables are provided and all you need is a glass of the Burrell School Chardonnay and some food, and you are set for a great picnic. You will enjoy the friendliness of the tasting room as well as the very good Chardonnay and Merlot. These are the only two wines currently being produced by this winery.

To get to Santa Cruz via the backroads, head down Summit a very short distance and turn right onto Soquel Santa Cruz Road. This will get you to the coast.

byington vineyards on the Santa Cruz wine trail
Byington Vineyards – a hideway among the Redwood Trees on the Santa Cruz Wine Trail

Santa Cruz Wine Country Getaway – Details

  • Joe Becerra

    Joe Becerra has been traveling to wine country and enjoying wine since 1965. He is a retired educator, and now have the time the opportunity to share his wine travel experiences through this Website.

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