Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard has been making European-style, food-friendly, cellar-worthy wines since 1975. We are well-known for making Pinot Noir that can age beautifully for three decades.
Our basic philosophy is that wine should dance with food and make the food/wine experience more than a sum of the ingredients. This means making wines with moderate alcohol and oak so that the true characteristics of the grape varieties are expressed. You won’t find any high-alcohol, jammy, oaky wines here.
In 2008 we launched a second brand, Quinta Cruz, which features only varieties that originated on the Iberian Peninsula but are now grown here in California. These Portuguese and Spanish varieties include Tempranillo, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Souzão, Castelão and Graciano.
After more-or-less hiding away in the mountains for 32 years, the winery moved to the westside of Santa Cruz in 2008 and opened our first tasting room in our long history. We are located in an area where you can walk to many other tasting rooms nearby and are only a few blocks from the beach and Natural Bridges State Park.
For 30 years, Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard was located at one of the oldest continuously operated vineyards in California, originally established in 1863 as the Jarvis Brothers Vineyard. Ken Burnap started the winery in 1975, setting out to make the finest Pinot Noir possible in California. Ken had done years of research into what conditions were necessary to produce good Pinot Noir, and the Santa Cruz Mountains region ended up being his final choice as the area with the greatest potential for excellent wines. The first release under the Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard label was the highly regarded 1975 vintage.
In 1979 Ken hired Jeff Emery for part-time cellar work and vineyard tending while Jeff was working on a degree at UC Santa Cruz. By the time he graduated (in geology) he was hopelessly seduced by the joys of growing grapes and making wine, and couldn’t possibly look for a “real” job. A wonderful apprenticeship and collaboration was established between Ken and Jeff. By the time Ken retired in 2002 Jeff had fully taken over the day-to-day business operations and the winemaking. In the summer of 2004, Ken sold the vineyard property on Jarvis Road, and the winemaking operations for Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard moved with Jeff to a new location near Boulder Creek, in the Santa Cruz Mountains. In the spring of 2008 the winery moved to its present location on the west side of the City of Santa Cruz.
History of the Bobcat Image
The bobcat has always been on the labels of Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard wines. While the front label featured a picture of the Estate Vineyard, the side label from the very first release in 1975 through the 1984 vintage had the bobcat image. The bobcat is somewhat of a symbol for the Santa Cruz Mountains, the town of Los Gatos having been named for the wild cats that roam these mountains. Ken Burnap, the winery founder, thought it would be nice if the wineries of the Santa Cruz Mountains had a unifying symbol for the region, much like the rooster that appears on all bottles of wine from the Chianti Classico region of Italy. Therefore, he included it on the label of the very first release, the 1975 Estate Pinot Noir. David Bruce Winery put the bobcat on their label for a few years in the 1970s, but that is about as far as the idea went.
In 1985 the Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard wine labels were “modernized,” and the bobcat moved from the side of the label to its now prominent position on the front.