Best Los Gatos Wine Tasting Tours
Insider’s guide to the most fun wineries
Wine tours in Los Gatos? Yes, most definitely! The Los Gatos mountains hide dozens of nifty little wineries especially along Summit Road south of Hwy 17. Visiting them has been more fun for us than taking the longer trip to Napa Valley. See Los Gatos Wine Tasting Map for locations.
These little known wine-tasting gems near Los Gatos are:
- More convenient — Just a short Sunday drive from South Bay. In less than a 5-hours round-trip you can visit 3-4 very nice little wineries and enjoy some fantastic picnic settings along the way.
- Less crowded & less commercial — Avoid most tourists and crowds. Long relaxed conversations with the wine experts themselves is a side benefit.
- Top wines — Our experience is that small artisan wineries are often better; they definitely win a disproportionate share of top awards. Big-name commercial wineries must keep a consistent taste between years so they are always blending together different barrels to make this happen. Artisan wineries can focus on just a few small lots of hand-crafted wines which don’t taste the same but are often better.
- More beautiful — We like the high views from the Santa Cruz mountains more than the expansive rolling Napa vineyards though, of course, they too are beautiful. The Los Gatos mountain roads, with their views and turns and trees, are more appealing than the big freeways to Napa.
- Less expensive — Most only have a $5 tasting fee which can be applied towards the purchase of an admittedly expensive bottle. Gas, traffic, and hassle savings are obviously big too.
Except for Testorossa Winery in main Los Gatos, the attractions below are located along Summit Road on the way to Loma Prieta Winery (only 30 minutes south of Los Gatos). We usually start at Loma Prieta Winery and work our way back to Highway 17. The best stops are noted below in bold typeface. Winery tasting schedules seem to change often so double-check ahead to confirm dates and directions.
The biggest and oldest winery is at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center right in the city of Los Gatos, a couple of blocks off East Main Street. It is in a stone building with a nice cave-like atmosphere and outdoor patio.
300-A College Avenue, Los Gatos. 408-354-6150.
Open daily 11am-5pm. website
The views of Santa Cruz and the Pacific Ocean from the tasting room, at a 2300′ elevation, are fantastic. Nice wines too.
Loma Prieta Winery is located past the end of Summit Road about 15 miles (30 minutes) from downtown Los Gatos. Watch for the sign at Mt Bache Rd which turns into Loma Prieta Way. Or, since it can be tricky, carefully check your map.
26985 Loma Prieta Way, Los Gatos. 408-353-2950.
Sat-Sun 12pm-5pm. website
A small but nice winery.
24900 Highland Way, Los Gatos 831-421-9380.
Mon-Sun 12pm-6 pm. website
This family-owned market and gourmet deli is a nice place to stop along the way and join the locals on the patio. Their Loaded Tri-Tip Sandwich on a Dutch Crunch roll is outstanding. They also feature wines and the 2d largest beer selection in Santa Cruz County.
24197 Summit Road, Los Gatos. 408-353-2186.
Open 7 days/week, 8am-8pm weekends. website
On the grounds is a historic 1890’s one-room school house that is worth quickly checking out. The wines are better elsewhere.
24060 Summit Road, Los Gatos. 408-353-6290.
Thu-Sun 11am-5pm. website
The best thing here — the beautiful formal Italian gardens — is restricted to members of their wine club. However, anyone can look in and can visit the winetasting bar. Or, go next door to Burrell School where you can sit on the patio.
24040 Summit Road, Los Gatos, CA. 408-353-2500.
Sat-Sun 12pm-5pm. website
This is one of the best Christmas Tree Farms around. Nice views and nice woods. Drive around the 80 acres then get out with the saw provided to cut your own. You can get a tree of any size for $50+tax (note: $25 discount coupons are sometimes available on the web.)
23868 Summit Rd, Los Gatos, CA 95033. 408-354-3595.
Open daily Thanksgiving-Christmas Eve. website
This is the smallest winery we have visited but has some the best botique wines. Call ahead for dates when they are open (generally once/month) and for exact directions (it is easy to miss).
23076 Summit Road, Los Gatos. 888-788-4583.
Call for dates & directions. website
Tips & Notes:
- Weather— Weather is often beautiful; however, mountain wineries can also experience fog in the mornings, wind from the ocean, or very warm summer days. As always in the Bay area dress in layers or carry a light ski jacket in your trunk.
- Timing— Many small wineries are open only weekends and some only once per month. If you want to make certain a particular winery is open call ahead or at least check its web site.
- Locations— Signage and directions can sometimes be marginal. Don’t take a chance … again check the web site or call ahead for exact details.
- Driving— The roads along the mountain tops are very pleasant but they are only two lanes and curvy. Drive safely and watch for cyclists.
- Views— Take some time to stop and enjoy the views, walks, and local markets you will run across along the way.
- Wine Map of best Los Gatos wine tasting tours.
- Los Gatos Best Things To Do and Map
- Skyline Drive and Map – Another beautiful Sunday drive is along Skyline Blvd. For those who like wineries, Thomas Fogarty Winery and Vineyards, at 19501 Skyline Blvd, 4.5 miles south of Hwy 84 & 2.7 miles north of Page Mill Rd, is especially nice. You can also get to it from Hwy 17 by taking Hwy 35 north at the summit.
- San Jose and Map – Los Gatos is a suburb of San Jose. Here are more good things to do nearby in San Jose.
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