Santa Cruz Mountains: Viticultural Heritage

The Santa Cruz Mountains AVA has exceptional vineyards that grow various grape types due to its diverse microclimates and unique topography. Woodside Vineyards, established in 1960, embodies artisanal winemaking and commitment to quality. The Woodside Store, built in 1854, was a commerce and social interaction hub. Emmet Rixford’s innovative work with European grape varieties at La Questa Vineyard in the late 19th century laid the groundwork for the region’s esteemed reputation in California’s wine industry. These elements highlight the area’s transition to a world-class winemaking destination.

Geographical Marvels and Microclimate Mosaic

The Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, established in 1982, emphasizes the critical relationship between terroir and viticulture. The AVA spans diverse elevations and temperatures, supporting cool—and warm-climate grape varieties. This geographic and climatic diversity facilitates the cultivation of grapes with complex flavors and balanced acidity, showcasing the region’s unique ability to produce high-quality wines that reflect its distinct terroir.

A Journey Through Time: From Missionaries to Modernity

The Santa Cruz Mountains have a rich history of winemaking. Despite facing challenges like phylloxera and Prohibition, the region is known for its perseverance and innovation. In the late 20th century, winemakers adopted sustainable and quality-focused practices, respecting the land and expressing the region’s unique terroir through minimal intervention. The establishment of Santa Cruz Mountains AVA highlighted the area’s diverse microclimates and complex wines. Today, the region is renowned for its high-quality, terroir-driven wines, embodying a legacy of resilience, innovation, and environmental stewardship.

Woodside Vineyards: Guardians of Tradition and Innovation

In 1960, Bob Mullen and friends founded Woodside Vineyards, a winery in Woodside, California. By experimenting with grape varietals and sustainable winemaking techniques, they uncovered the potential of the San Francisco Peninsula as a distinguished wine-producing region. The transition from a passion project to a professional winery solidified the founders’ pioneering role and inspired a new generation of winemakers.

Preserving the Past: La Questa and Hopper Vineyards

Woodside Vineyards manages La Questa and Hopper vineyards to preserve the viticultural heritage of the Santa Cruz Mountains. These vineyards are living museums that represent the region’s winemaking history. They ensure the survival of over a century-old vines and produce wines with the unique essence of the region’s historical terroir. Woodside Vineyards balances traditional and sustainable viticultural practices to honor the vineyards’ founders and ensure the enduring legacy of wine growing in the area. Their efforts highlight the evolution of winemaking in the Santa Cruz Mountains and preserve its viticultural traditions.

The Woodside Store and Emmet Rixford: Pillars of the Community

The Woodside Store, established in 1854, was a crucial hub for the local logging industry in Woodside, California. As the industry declined, it became a central gathering place for the community. The store adapted to provide goods and services to the farming community as the region’s economy shifted toward agriculture and viticulture. It played an indirect but essential role in promoting viticulture and the emerging wine culture in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Today, the store stands as a historical monument, celebrating the region’s transition to a diversified agricultural landscape and the importance of community hubs in fostering industry and innovation.

Emmet Rixford: A Viticultural Visionary

Emmet Rixford was a viticulturist at La Questa Vineyard who introduced European grape varieties and advanced the quality and reputation of Santa Cruz Mountains wines. His meticulous approach and innovative spirit inspired subsequent winemakers, emphasizing quality and site-specific cultivation. Rixford’s legacy cements the Santa Cruz Mountains’ status as a premier wine-producing region, celebrated for its innovation and excellence in viticulture.

Celebrating a Rich Heritage, Embracing the Future

The Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, Woodside Vineyards, Woodside Store, and Emmet Rixford represent California’s winemaking heritage. The AVA’s unique terrain and climate foster experimentation, while Woodside Vineyards sets sustainability standards. The Woodside Store symbolizes area evolution, and Rixford’s work with European grape varieties enhances viticultural practices. Together, they inspire innovation, resilience, and community in winemaking, shaping California’s legacy.