Cupertino Salutes Their Winemakers By John Koenig

Cupertino is the heart of Silicon Valley, famous as the birthplace of technology giants. It does, however, have more than computers to offer. The Chamber of Commerce and the Historical Society recently celebrated another point of pride: their winemakers!

We had already discovered some fun wineries in the Santa Cruz mountains near Cupertino, including Savannah Chanelle Vineyards, Cooper Garrod Vineyards, House Family Vineyards, and Vidovich Vineyards. When the Cupertino Historical Society invited us to attend their event, Salutè! A Toast to Cupertino Winemakers – Past & Present, we were thrilled!

The Historical Society Museum is part of the Quinlan Community Center, so there was plenty of parking, with lots of open space inside the facility, bathed in sunshine. We arrived to a bustling crowd of Cupertino citizens, happily exploring the event and greeting each other to a background of Italian accordion music. The mood was set within seconds.

Accordionist Reno Di Bono

Accordionist Reno Di Bono

Once we checked in with the Historical Society folks, we made our way to the exhibit room and to meet some winemakers. We soon discovered that all of these fine wineries were located along Montebello Road, which was an interesting factoid. A little wisdom to drop during our next tasting tour.

We first met Noël Relyea and William Wood, owners and wine makers at R & W Vineyards. We learned that Noël  and William chose wine making as a second career after bio-technology, now producing about 300 cases of wine a year. Their friends and family are instrumental in helping with many of the steps in producing wine, from harvesting to bottling. After tasting the result, we could understand everyone’s willingness to pitch in. A little manual effort for a bottle of this lovely wine? Count me in!

Cupertino wine neumann

We next visited the table of Naumann Vineyards. Danielle told us that Naumann Vineyards was open only 4-6 times a year, so tasting their wine outside of this type of event required some diligence! They produce a bit more wine than R & W Vineyards, at about 500 cases a year. A few sips of their wine made us promise ourselves to bookmark their web site to learn about their next tasting.

cupertino wine vidovich vineyards

Vidovich Vineyards was at the next table. We love their Cabernet Sauvignon, and they were pouring some. Color us happy! We renewed our acquaintance with two of the Vidovich brothers and winery manager Jessica as we sipped their delicious wine. It was great to see them again.

cupertino wine ridge vineyards

The Ridge Vineyards exhibit space


Ridge Vineyards was the first winery in Cupertino. They did not participate with a pouring table but did have an artistic display in the museum. The senior-most winery in the area, Ridge Vineyards dates back to 1885, when 180 acres at the top of the Monte Bello Ridge was purchased by Osea Perrone for a vineyard. As we spoke with the other wine makers, they each described their location relative to the original: Ridge Vineyards.

cupertino wine zirelli

As a fun way to raise money for the Historical Society, home winemaker and Chamber board member John Zirelli demonstrated wine bottle corking on a single-bottle device. Attendees literally formed a line to donate to this good cause and take home a bottle of John’s lovely wine as a gift. As veteran of quite a few “bottle your own” events, we were very familiar with his gadget.

After a welcome from Cupertino’s Mayor and an introduction of new Chamber of Commerce members, the attendees networked, munched on some snacks and helped ensure that the wineries didn’t have any pesky partially emptied bottles left over.

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