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The History of Santa Cruz Mountains Wine Production

This helped the local wine industry develop a national customer base before the turn of the 20th century. The region was famous for Riesling in these years, but wine production was not the only major industry. In response to the demand for building materials in the Bay Area, timber companies bought huge tracts of land to clear-cut. After this was done, the companies sold the stripped land to vineyard developers at very low prices.

Unfortunately, these practices not only wreaked havoc on the environment, but also led to a glut in the wine market. The economic crisis of the 1890s caused prices to plummet. If this was not enough, phylloxera caused many vineyard owners to abandon their land. With things already going badly, Prohibition was a deadly blow.

In the decades following the repeal of Prohibition the wine industry in the Santa Cruz Mountains operated on a limited scale. However, many of the wines that were produced were fantastic, and passionate individuals quietly renewed the region’s reputation for excellence.

After the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, several winemakers blended their surviving barrels into a wine called “Epicenter.” They donated the revenues from this effort to help those affected by the earthquake. The Santa Cruz Mountains AVA was established in 1982 and covers 122,000 acres of total land.

There is currently about 1,500 acres of vineyards compared to over 5,000 acres in the late 19th century. The region currently has a reputation for passion, creativity, and eccentricity. Ken Kesey was a non-winemaking resident of the mountains for many years.

> Santa Cruz Mountains Wineries

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