Inevitably, a friend returns from a visit to the Bay area and I know the conversation before it takes place. We cover the basic tourist attractions: Alcatraz, Ghirardelli Square, Golden Gate Park, Chinatown, wine country, bla bla bla. In fact, the conversation is so predictable that I often begin to wonder why I haven't written a tour booklet for the region. Not because I know so much about all of these interesting places, but because I've been lucky enough to experience other things of interest.
Every city has them, untouched gems that tourist seem to miss. Perhaps that's why I haven't written my Badass Bay Area travel guide, I like that fact that my gems remain gems. Free from the bastardizing touch of the stereotypical ugly American tourist. (It's not all their fault of course, locals happily go out of their way to invent ways to separate these tourist from their cash.) Once people see theirs a buck to be made it gets ugly quick. Does anyone remember the gritty customer service friendly style of old Vegas, or the down-to-earth happy to see you farmers in Napa prior to this recent wine craze?
For my gaming pleasure Vegas is seldom in the cards anymore. But for down-to-earth wine tasting we still have options. Luckily, the country is still blessed with a few fun growing regions that consistently produce great wines. One such AVA is short drive southwest of San Francisco to the Santa Cruz Mountains. Incorporating parts of Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and San Mateo this region is full of unique and well established vineyards. Speckled with boutique wineries, one can easily spend a week exploring all the fine juice this region has to offer. Plus, you save yourself from the crowds, hassle and expense of the more famous tasting regions to the north. It can be hard to find many of these wines on at your local supermarket, but that can also be the fun of the trip, the discovery. One of my favorites, the Picchetti winery, dates back to the 1800's. A walk in the vineyard will reveal tree trunk sized vines (just beware the rattle snakes) but save yourself the walk and just enjoy the comforts of the tasting room.
The Leslie's Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a treat. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from our Estate Vineyards on Montebello Road. This wine is beautifully balanced. Rich and intense in color, the nose is tremendous. A classic Cabernet, luscious and bold with deep flavors of blackcurrant with a hint of chocolate. Decant now and drink or allow it to age beautifully over the next 20 years. It will not disappoint and neither will a visit to the Santa Cruz Mountains growing region.