Last month my husband and I were invited to a beautiful private event at a simply gorgeous local winery. House Family Vineyards is located on a hilltop in the Santa Cruz Mountains in Saratoga overlooking Santa Clara Valley, now known to the world as Silicon Valley. The view was astounding, with sweeping views that spanned from Mountain View and Santa Clara, to San Jose, Saratoga, and Los Gatos, plus the bay and hills that encircle it all. While sipping wine, we had fun pointing out local landmarks. These views are of the southern tip of what is known as the San Francisco Bay Area, with San Francisco being to our north. Many visitors to our area are aware of our famous Napa-Sonoma-Mendocino wine country that is north of San Francisco, but there are many wineries south and east as well. If you are visiting Silicon Valley, (I know quite a few of my readers do visit for business) and you want to visit a close-by California winery, this gem should be your destination. The rustic, lodge-like wine tasting room is open Friday-Sunday for tastings that includes an hors d'oeuvre menu, but can be closed for private events so it's best to check the website first. Wear comfy shoes for the oak-studded quarter-mile walk from the parking lot to the tasting room. I don't consider myself a wine connoisseur, more of an enthusiast, and we loved what we tasted so decided to become members of their wine club. Wine clubs are the best way to purchase wine from small wineries who don't have enough wine to sell to wine stores. Plus picking up our wine will be a fun outing on a pretty afternoon with the '62 Corvette, my husband's beloved hobby car. As for the evening's dinner, it was sublime. We began with passed appetizers on the terrace with the expansive views, but I couldn't stray too far from the epic charcuterie board. It had everything I adore: olives, pickles, salty meats, grapes, and a wonderful selection of soft and hard cheeses. I always think I'm going to tackle making a charcuterie board but haven't yet as I fear it will be too difficult and I won't get it to look right. I looked online for help and loved Kylie Mazon's simple plan and pretty style and now I am determined to give a charcuterie board a try this summer. Dinner was served from big platters served family style in the center of the tables followed by dessert and coffee offered on a separate buffet. But the views and wine, the food and friends, all had to take a back seat for a bit because the moment I walked in, I gasped at the table setting and that took my full attention at the first. Look at the centerpieces! Branches of olive, curly willow and eucalyptus, artichokes and grapes, protea, roses, green hydrangeas, snapdragons, and shiny black lilies that looked like leather! My husband pointed out that each of the artichoke petals had been snipped of its wee thorny tip. One of the prettiest arrangements I had ever seen. Now that is floral artistry.
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Friday, October 20 - Sunday, October 22
Regular Tasting Room Hours
House Family Vineyards is participating in a fundraising effort organized by Santa Cruz Mountains Wine Growers Association to provide aid and resources to fire victimms. Wine industry leaders have formed a support network to provide immediate assistance and long-term aid to victims of the fires ravaging Northern California and are calling on the national wine community for additional help. We will be accepting cash donations in the tasting room all weekend. Alternately, checks can be made out to "Santa Cruz Mountains Wine Growers Education Foundation".
If you would like to donate online, please do so at:
With a winning combination of 150 premium wines and an exclusive outdoor art venue, people showed up to “sip, sample and bid” in the beautiful outdoors for the 2017 Silicon Valley Wine Auction on May 20-21, despite summer-like temperatures approaching 90 degrees.Produced by the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association (SCMWA), and held at Runnymede Sculpture Farm in Woodside, California, the third annual event featured top winemakers and wineries of the Santa Cruz Mountains. It was one for the record books; drawing 1,000 total attendees and raising $1 million to benefit the Silicon Valley Education Foundation’s Elevate (Math) and STEM Leadership Institute programs.
Among the top live auction items were two winemaker’s dinners sponsored by House Family Vineyards, which fetched $27,000 each, for a total of $54,000.
As a preview to this year’s Silicon Valley Wine Auction, ESV sought out some of the participating vintners to learn about them and get a flavor for this year's auction. We sat down with winemaker Jim Cargill in Saratoga to enjoy his panoramic view and enjoy a wine tasting.
Q: House Family Vineyards has an incredible 180-degree view of the Valley. How do you describe it?
A. My father-in-law (Dave House, founder of the winery and former Silicon Valley technology executive) likes to tell his story as ‘from chips to grapes.’ I think House Family Vineyards is the ultimate juxtaposition of this Valley – of dirt and technology. Here in our steep mountainside vineyard, we overlook what is probably the epicenter of technology in the world. We use a lot of science and technology to make sure things are sound, but we are very old-world minded in our winemaking. I always say wine is really made in the vineyard. My job is to babysit it from vineyard to glass. We want to respect and express the true essence of the grapes. When you have pristine fruit you have that luxury.
Q. Do you have a philosophy about wine?
A. I believe a glass of wine should be like a great conversation. It should excite your mouth. It should have depth, complexity and layers. You should want to spend the evening with it.
Stacey Vreeken, Wine Press: Classic wines nurtured by House Family Winery
Sep 14, 2011
When David House first envisioned grapevines surrounding his mountaintop retreat in Saratoga, it was a landscaping plan. But the Silicon Valley executive doesn't do anything halfway; the steep property was soon crawling with a team of experts finding the best soils, microclimate and rootstock.
After spending $12,000 an acre, Chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and merlot -- the classic Old World varietals -- with House Family Winery labels are the result.
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