SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – Today, local officials, wineries, and community members gathered for a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the launch of the new Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail by unveiling the new signage to promote agri-business in South Santa Clara County. The new Wine Trail signs direct drivers to some of the oldest wineries in California, nestled among local farms and orchards in southern Santa Clara County.
"I believe strongly in promoting our County's assets, including our agricultural heritage,” said Supervisor Mike Wasserman, President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. “After hearing from our wine community that there was a strong desire to establish a wine route, we worked together to make it happen."
The county partnered in the effort with the goals of raising public awareness about the treasures in south Santa Clara County and stimulating economic prosperity in the area.
“We are pleased that our civic leaders stepped forward to support this new wine trail signage program,” said Greg Richtarek, president of the Wineries of Santa Clara Valley, a 21-member organization. “Many other wine regions already enjoy the significant boost in tourism enhanced by clear, attractive signage. It’s gratifying to have long overdue and proper recognition for the Santa Clara Valley.”
Earlier this year, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to adopt the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail Route. It will feature 70-plus directional signs bearing the logo of the Wineries of Santa Clara Valley that will guide visitors to South County wineries.
“Many Gilroy residents already know some of the best kept secrets in our area,” said Mayor Don Gage, City of Gilroy. “We want the rest of the region to know that not only are we the garlic capital of the world, we also produce award-winning wines and some of the best locally grown produce you can find.”
The ribbon cutting ceremony kicks off a Wine Trail Celebration Weekend on Aug. 23 and Aug. 24 with barrel tasting, barbecues, winery tours, special discounts, and music at south county wineries. Participants can share selfies and their experiences on Facebook and Twitter using #SCVWineTrail as they enjoy festivities during the weekend.
"I am thrilled by the visibility and acknowledgement the South County region is receiving by being designated as an official Wine Trail,” said Morgan Hill Vice Mayor Marilyn Librers. “We are proud of the rich heritage our wine industry brings to visitors from near and far and look forward to welcoming many wine enthusiasts.”
Southern Santa Clara County has a rich, colorful agricultural history and a longstanding designation as an American Viticultural Area (AVA). The first premium vines planted in California, from European cuttings, dating back to 1852, were planted in Santa Clara Valley. This makes Santa Clara Valley the oldest premium wine growing region in the state.
The official unveiling of the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail was held at Guglielmo Winery, the oldest continuously family owned and operated winery in the region, dating back to 1925. It was followed by a media bus tour to Morgan Hill Cellars, Thomas Kruse, Fortino Winery and Kirigin Cellars. All are among the original wineries in the region.
The new wine trail signage guides motorists in a circle through South Santa Clara County, along Watsonville Road, Hecker Pass Highway and the east sides of Gilroy, San Martin and Morgan Hill. One of the benefits of the wine trail signs, is that they will help drivers stay on course in the more rural areas where GPS may not be as reliable. There are more than 20 Santa Clara Valley wineries located along this route, with additional more remote wineries off the main trail.
“The Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce is thrilled to partner with multiple local associations and governments to bring greater awareness of our region’s outstanding wineries,” said John Horner, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Santa Clara County not only has the state’s deepest roots in wine making, but also one of its brightest futures.”
The Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail is a cooperative effort among the County of Santa Clara, the cities of Gilroy and Morgan Hill, the Association of Wineries of the Santa Clara Valley, and the local business community. The wine trail idea was first discussed among community members, then brought to the County.
Jane Howard, Executive Director of the Gilroy Welcome Center, said in a statement, “Our local wineries are truly ‘hidden gems,’ so we are thrilled that these new signs will help make it easier for out-of-town visitors to find them! The wineries are a huge boost to tourism, bringing more people to discover the world-class dining, lodging, and other outstanding recreation opportunities that the entire area has to offer.”
The County installed signage on identified roadways in unincorporated areas, including signage leading into the city of Gilroy. At the same time, the City of Gilroy installed Wine Trail signage at additional locations along the route within the incorporated areas of Gilroy. The City of Morgan Hill installed signage for the segment of Wine Trail located in Morgan Hill. The Association of Wineries of Santa Clara Valley has agreed to support the replacement and addition of wine trail signs when needed. Also, to promote safety, “Don’t Drink and Drive” signs will be placed at key locations along the route.
Tickets to the weekend “Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail Celebration” are $40 and can be purchased at participating wineries and the Gilroy Welcome Center. See www.santaclarawines.com for more information.