When my husband and I were dating in California in 2001 and 2002, we did a great deal of wine tasting. We were both transplants to California and had managed to plunk ourselves near a historic wine region that wasn’t Napa.
One day we were at the Joullian Vineyards tasting room in Carmel Valley and he said, “You like to write. I like to take pictures. We both like wine. Why don’t we write a wine book?” We did some research about the Santa Cruz Mountains wineries (closer to our homes than Carmel) and discovered nothing had been written about the region since Late Harvest
So we went to work! And boy was the research tough. All those wonderful and quirky winemakers, great wine and often a feast set out for us. A few years later Mountain Vines, Mountain Wines was published.
With my California Romance series I’ve had the opportunity to go back and re-explore Santa Cruz Mountains wines — at least in my memory. Elizabeth, the heroine in California Wine (Crimson Romance) and her friend, Annie, like Chardonnay. I don’t like my Chardonnays overly oaked and some of my favorites from the region include Storrs and Thomas Fogarty. Michael Martella, a fascinating man who is the winemaker at Fogarty, also produces his own label, selected by Elizabeth at a very special dinner.
The stories of the mountains also play into the book. The winery region was well established in the late 1800s by many of the French who settled in San Jose, now the heart of Silicon Valley. (In fact, San Jose’s records were once kept in French!) The characters of Paul Masson and Martin Ray had a heavy influence in the region, and were the source of many controversies.
A second wave of winemakers came in during the 1970s and 1980s. These included Ken Burnap and David Bruce, as well as the late Kathryn Kennedy. From all reports, the times were wild and the wine flowed freely. Some of the characters you meet in California Wine are built from these amazing wine pioneers.
To learn more about the Santa Cruz Mountains wineries today, read Tour Guide to the Wineries of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Otherwise, settle down with a copy of your favorite contemporary romance novel, like California Wine, and explore the wineries of California by having a good glass of wine in your hand as you read the book.