Saccharification Saccharomyces Saccharomyces Cereviseae Sack Sacramental Wines Saint-Amour Sainte-Foy Bordeaux Saint-Emilion Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Saint-Estephe Saint-Joseph Saint-Julien Saint-Véran Sak Mead Sakaya Sakaya No Sake Saketini Salento Salento Igp Salento Rosso Igp Salmanazar Salta Samson San Benito County San Bernabe San Francisco Bay San Joaquin Valley San Juan San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo County San Pasqual Valley San Rafael Sancerre Sangiovese Sangiovese del Rubicone Sangiovese di Toscana IGT Sangria Sangrita Santa Barbara Santa Barbara County Santa Clara Valley Santa Cruz Mountains Santa Lucia Highlands Santa Maria Valley Santa Rita Hills Santa Ynez Valley Santiam Sapwood Sardegna DOC Satus Sauternes Sauvignon Blanc Savennières Savoie Sazerac Schloss Schlossabzug Scofflaw Screaming Orgasm Screwdriver Scuppernong Sec Secco Secondary Fermentation Seibel Seimaibuai Seishu Sekt Semillon Seneca Lake Sercial Serving Beer Set Seyval Blanc Seyve-Villard Shandy Shatter Shawnee Hills Shenandoah Valley Sherry Sherry Cobbler Shiraz Shizuku Shochu Shoot Shot Berries Shubo Sidecar Sierra Foothills Simcoe® Singapore Sling Single Cask/Single Barrel Single Malt Whiskey Sirah Six-Row Malt Skimming Skunk Slow Comfortable Screw Against the Wall Smoked Malt Smv Snake River Valley Snipes Mountain Snowball So2 Soave Soave Classico Dop Soft Solano County Solera Sommelier Sonoma Coast Sonoma County Sonoma Mountain Sonoma Valley Sorachi Ace Sour South Africa South Australia South Coast South-Eastern Australia Southeastern New England Southern Oregon Southside Sovereign Spain Sparkling Sake Sparkling Wine Spatburgunder Spatlese Specific Gravity Spicy Spirit Safe Spoilage Spring Mountain, Napa Valley Spritz al Bitter Spritzig Spritzy Spumante Spur St. Emilion St. Estèphe St. Georges St. Emilion St. Helena, Napa Valley St. Joseph Blanc St. Joseph Rouge St. Julien St. Laurent Stabilization Stags Leap District, Napa Valley Staling Stalks Stalky Standard Mead Stein Stellenbosch Stemmy Stems Still Wine Stomata Straight Stuck Fermentation Styrian Aurora Südsteiermark Sugaring SuIfur Dioxide Suisun Valley Sulfite Sulfuring Of Hops Sumadija Summer Summit™ Super Alpha Super Pride Sur Lies Swan Hill Swan Valley Swartland Sweet Sweet Pomace Sylvaner Syrah
Santa Cruz Mountains
Santa Cruz is certainly one of California’s more improbable, dare one say impractical regions. This craggy, imposing, conifer peaked range of mountains nestles along the southwestern side of the San Francisco Bay, encompassing the San Andreas fault and some of the Golden State’s finest vineyard locations.

Specifics of climate, and hence resulting wine styles, can vary with altitude and aspect of vineyards, making sweeping generalizations or even gradual variations in character impossible to extrapolate. Rainfall and average temperature vary significantly with altitude, and sunshine hours will be dependent upon the specific vineyard orientation, with east facing slopes being considerably warmer. However, given the mountainous terrain and the poverty of the shale-like soil, yields are ungratifyingly low, and viticulture is labor intensive. These factors alone account for the lack of corporate money and presence in the Santa Cruz Mountains, notwithstanding the ownership of Ridge Vineyards by a Japanese financial services company. It is an outpost of devoted amateurs and occasional eccentrics seeking focused seclusion.

The region mostly falls solidly into Region I (the coolest viticultural climate) on the UC Davis heat summation scale, with the warmest areas achieving Region II status (on a par with Russian River Valley). This puts it in a class of its own in California, as few other Region I/II areas can satisfactorily ripen Cabernet Sauvignon to the level of intensity seen here. Impeccable canopy exposure and low yields certainly play their role, but long slow ripening with plenty of sunshine hours on favorable east facing slopes certainly is a major factor. Thus, Santa Cruz is actually a warmer area than it would appear at face value.

The region’s greatest and most historic winery is none other than Ridge Vineyards, whose Monte Bello Vineyard, at an elevation of over 2,000 feet, first planted in 1885, was one of the first vineyards to be established here. This hallowed and somewhat inaccessible, though magnificently situated terraced vineyard, produces some of the world’s most highly sought after, and longest lived Cabernet. The style is always deep, firm, and rich, but focused, with a great clarity of fruit flavors that maturity does not seem to blur. Paul Draper’s Zen-like stewardship of this winery since 1969 has seen its reputation, and price, match its celestial elevation of 2,660 feet.

Making world class wine is a labor of love when done at altitude in the Santa Cruz Mountains and this philosophy is not likely to change, even with the currently inflated prices of top Californian Cabernets. Developing terraced vineyards in remote mountainous regions will always be an expensive proposition, and combined with miserly low yields will always be a deterrence to all but the most far-sighted of investors. After all, even on the Cote-Rotie in France, it is still more rewarding for some farmers to grow artichokes than Syrah. (Wine/Appellations)