When I think of Santa Cruz wine country, the first thing that comes to mind are the beautiful backroads of the Santa Cruz Mountains lined with stunning Redwood trees. I think of wineries like Thomas Fogarty, David Bruce, Byington, and Ahlgren. These are small wineries tucked away in the Santa Cruz Mountains with vineyards hidden among the Redwoods. Visiting wineries in these mountains is fun, exciting, and most of all adventurous. Now if you are a little leery of tackling the curvy roads of these mountain roads but still want to get a taste of the Santa Cruz Mountain wines, then head straight to the city of Santa Cruz and Highway 1.
Just a little north of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a very cool and trendy warehouse area called the Swift Street Courtyard. Here you can taste wines sourced from Santa Cruz AVA at these tasting rooms: Bonny Doon, Vino Tabi Winery, Sones Cellars, Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards, and Pelican Ranch Winery. Bonny Doon is the biggest winery at this location and they are open seven days a week. Bonny Doon has been making wine here since the early 1990’s and just recently opened this very beautiful and tastefully designed tasting room and cafÃ©. The other tasting rooms are from much smaller wineries and for the most part they are open only on Saturday and Sunday.
Although you won’t see any vineyards at the Swift Street Courtyard, there are many others things to see and do for making this into a very fun day trip. At the Swift Street Courtyard you can taste wine and then have lunch at Kelly’s French Bakery. Or you can hit the Santa Cruz Brew Pub and enjoy a cool cold one in between tasting rooms. Or, shop for a picnic lunch at the New Leaf Community Market and head a couple miles north to Natural Bridges State Park. Bring your bike and cycle on West Cliff Drive and enjoy some spectacular views of the Pacific Coast.
To get to the Swift Street Courtyard, head to Santa Cruz on Highway 17. Take Highway 1 north for two miles and take a left turn on Fair Avenue. Take a right turn on Ingalls Street. The Swift Street Courtyard will be on the right.