Swift Street, located on the west side of Santa Cruz, intersecting at the end of Mission Street, is one of the best kept secrets in our county. Kelly’s Bakery, Pelican Ranch Winery, and Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing are three of my favorite establishments in Santa Cruz, and they are all right next door to each other in the Swift Street Courtyard. Kelly’s has a variety of delicious pastries and an enticing lunch menu. But I’m a sucker for their simple, yet addictive, breakfast burritos.
Phil and Peggy Crews run Pelican Ranch, a small boutique winery specializing in Pinot Noir. If you are lucky enough to catch Phil there he is more than willing to share his wine expertise and give you a tour of the winery although to me, it looks more like a science lab than a winery (Phil is also a chemistry professor at UCSC).
Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, owned by Chad Brill and Emily Thomas, makes a variety of organic beers which are all equally tasty. They recently opened a pub adjacent to their brewery where beer tasting and pints are available. Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing is full of fun and energetic personalities emblematic of Santa Cruz culture. Kelly, one of SCMB’s bartenders is always upbeat and sometimes seems to have a fan club in the bar. Nick Thomas, Emily’s brother is one of the head brewers and responsible for much of the top-notch beer production. With his goatee and flannel jacket he is an easy one to spot and happy to talk about some of the brewing practices at SCMB.
Just down the street from the Swift Street Courtyard, you can find Equinox Winery’s tasting room and Sarticious Spirit’s warehouse. Equinox offers a variety of wines including an intriguing sparkler made from 100% chardonnay. Be wary of the Sarticious warehouse though, sometimes no one is home and sometimes you end up getting gin poured down your throat from a beaker (personal experience).
As if all this wasn’t enough to convince you, would you believe I haven’t even told you the best part? There are about to be some new editions to the Courtyard; Sones Cellars, Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards, and Bonny Doon Vineyards all plan to open tasting rooms in the Swift Street Courtyard. That will make five tasting rooms all within walking distance of each other. Plus, one of my good friends, Katie Fox, is opening a new micro-crush winery, named Vino-Tabi, in the Courtyard. Vino-Tabi will specialize in helping customers learn about wine making techniques while making their very own wine. I’m ecstatic that there will be a place in Santa Cruz where you will be able to receive a hands-on wine lesson while actually going through the crush activities. You may even get to make your own wine label as well!
I’d like to finish this article with an open-ended question to my readers. What is your opinion on a wine bar in the San Lorenzo Valley? Would this be a success or a failure? Please respond with comments and opinions to my email listed below. And as always…Cheers!