When exploring by bike, sometimes you find things by accident. This was the case with our recent trip to Santa Cruz, California. We went for the Bell Joy launch party. Arriving early, we discovered the Swift Street Courtyard, a cluster of former warehouses that is home to an assortment of wine tasting rooms, restaurants and shops. We found 13 wine tasting rooms within a three-block radius, two tap rooms for local beer, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery and West End Tap Room & Kitchen, Kelly’s French Bakery, and el Salchichero hand-crafted charcuterie along with a salon and clothing boutique.
This being Santa Cruz, one of the first things we noticed was the abundant bike parking. The second thing was that every place seemed to be dog-friendly. Third there are no big chain stores, everything is about local small businesses. A great combination.
Sampling the wares
We had time for two stops before our event. Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard was a good call. Unlike most wine tasting stops we’ve experienced recently, our wine pourer, Will, really knows about the grapes, wine regions and history. The wine maker, Jeff Emery, creates wine in the style of Spain and France, he explained. The grapes are all grown locally and most are California certified organic. Will taught us where each type of grape originated, the Spanish, Portuguese, and French names for each and how they are blended. It was an outstanding experience.
From there we headed over to West End Tap & Kitchen for dinner. In addition to West End brews, they serve Hermitage (mentioned in our blog on February 28, 2016), as well as other local beers. The menu has something for everyone from fried calamari, to side and meal salads. Main courses include grass-fed beef burgers, organic chicken, and sustainably caught fish. The chef focuses on local produce and when possible, organic ingredients. Even the coffee is roasted in town.
We are looking forward to coming back to explore the other palate tempting wines, beers and food in Santa Cruz’s Westside neighborhood area. You’ll find this collection of palate pleasing businesses at the corner of Swift and Ingalls Streets.