The Santa Cruz region is growing every year, and Passport Day is the best time to support wineries, whether they are new on the scene or old favorites.
To participate in Passport weekend, you must have a Passport booklet, which you can purchase from The Santa Cruz Experience or from the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association. The Passport booklet contains a page for every participating winery, and as you visit the wineries, they will stamp their pages, signifying that you have tasted their wines. The booklet never expires and is good for tastings at more than 70 wineries.
The most attractive thing about Passport for wine lovers is all the private wineries that are available to visit. Places like Zayante Vineyards, Heart O’ The Mountain and Pleasant Valley Vineyards are open exclusively on Passport days and make some of the best wine the Santa Cruz region has to offer.
Another thing that makes the Passport easy to use is Surf City Vintners. This grouping of tasting rooms is located at Swift and Ingalls streets on the west side of Santa Cruz. Surf City Vintners now boasts an incredible 13 different wineries’ tastings! It is figuratively an ocean of wine, and you could literally spend the entire day tasting wines at Surf City and not get through them all.
If you make it to the west side, be sure to visit the new Vine Hill tasting room and Odonata’s tasting room — both are favorites of mine.
For those of you who are wary about driving and tasting at the same time, The Santa Cruz Experience will be offering a shared tour to four different wineries on Passport Day. The tour will be visiting the Summit Road Region and will include Regale and MJA, as well as two others.
For more information on Passport Day, please visit www.thesantacruzexperience.com or www.scmwa.com.
Austin Twohig is a certified sommelier and partner in The Santa Cruz Experience, which conducts winery tours in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.