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The history of Soquel Vineyards; an exquisite tasting experience in the Santa Cruz Mountains

Presented by Soquel Vineyards
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The family behind Soquel Vineyards give some insight on what Soquel Vineyard is up to.
(Izzy Krause / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Soquel Vineyards was established in 1987 after three long-time friends created a business out of a hobby. Jon Morgan and Peter and Paul Bargetto all worked on the Bargetto family winery together before the twin brothers went off to do stints at other wineries. When Paul returned to Bargetto, he came to Jon and Peter and said “Hey you guys wanna do something fun together?”

Garage wine that had instant success blossomed into the Soquel Vineyards brand after a lot of encouragement from friends. They quickly rented a space from Dennis Bassano at Grover Gulch Winery. They were there for fourteen years before Paul found their current property in 1999. Then in 2003, permits in hand they planted their own vineyard with the help of Jim Beauregard of Beauregard Vineyards.

Jon Morgan reflects back on that time sharing, “there were a dozen wineries in the area and we didn’t know if there would be room for another one. Back then most of the wineries, oddly enough, were not making wines from grapes grown in the Santa Cruz Mountains. We knew of a handful of mom-and-pop vineyards that always sold to home wine makers so that’s what we went after. That was going to be our niche. We wanted to make Santa Cruz Mountain wines from locally grown, small lot vineyards.”

A chat with Jon Morgan, Paul and Peter Bargetto, Stephanie Morgan, and Simone Bargetto will give you some insight on what Soquel Vineyards is working with and producing nowadays along with what their club membership and a tasting experience at the winery entails.

Soquel Vineyards PC image
Soquel Vineyards was established in 1987 after three long-time friends, Jon Morgan and Peter and Paul Bargetto, created a business out of a hobby.
(Izzy Krause / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Can you walk us through the different varieties of grapes you grow and wines you produce?

Jon: Pinot Noir in our specialty. That’s what got us on the map. We make several different vineyard designated Pinots and some blended Pinots. That accounts for most of our premium wine. That’s what we’re best known for. Our Chardonnay we make from locally grown fruit. We make our Nebbiolo from the summit area up here. Our friends from Lago Lomita Vineyard supply us with grapes for Cabernet and Nebbiolo and a couple other blenders.

Stephanie: The Santa Cruz Mountains are some of the most diverse mountains in all of California because you can grow incredibly high quality grapes for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Our community (other wineries in the area) has shown that. We can make really delicious, high quality wines while not charging ultra premium prices like other wine countries are in California. There’s a lot more diversity here than I think people realize.

Soquel Vineyards PC image
(Izzy Krause / Lookout Santa Cruz)

What trends or changes are you seeing in the Santa Cruz wine industry these days? How do you work with other wineries in the area?

Jon: As for trends, I’m seeing more varieties being planted than before and more experimentation. As far as winemaking, the concept in and of itself is not complicated, it’s how you handle each step of the process. Different wineries use different buzzwords for their style. Like minimal intervention, sur lie, carbonic maceration, and native yeast. But these are not new techniques! They’re trendy but not new. You’ll hear these words a lot for promotional things but they’ve been around forever. I respect it all. We have experimented and found what works best for us.

Stephanie: It’s great to see what other wineries in the area are doing with the same grapes we are working with. It’s really fun to see the compare and contrast and look at the style changes from winery to winery.

Jon: We have been at it a while and there has been cooperation between wineries in the area. If we need something or they need something we are always happy to help each other out. People who are interested in getting into the business will come up to see what they can learn from us and we don’t keep secrets. It’s a small community and we all know one another.

Paul: When we get the Best of Class or Best of Show, our neighboring wineries are always happy for us. We are happy for them when they get acknowledgements as well. Everyone wants to promote the Santa Cruz Mountains!

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Visit Soquel Vineyards tasting room to taste their award winning wines and consider becoming a member! Their tasting room is open Saturday and Sunday, 11-4:30pm.
(Izzy Krause / Lookout Santa Cruz)

What makes Soquel Vineyards unique to others in the region?

Stephanie: We have something for everybody here, from the new wine drinker to the seasoned aficionado, you’ll find something to love.

Jon: I think in the end every winery up here is unique in their own way. We use old world style practices with modern equipment. The formula for us is we start with the highest quality fruits, and then we try to make a well balanced, well made wine that is flaw-free and we are really good at that. We will only release a wine we believe in and feel our patrons would love just as much as we do. The amount of years of experience Peter, Paul, and I have collectively is definitely unique.

What are some of the awards or recognition Soquel Vineyards has received for its wines?

Jon: Too many to count!

Paul: I can’t keep track! It’s a good problem to have.

Stephanie: We have gotten press from Wine Enthusiast and have been voted “best winery” by the local public several times. We always send about a case up to the SF Chronicle and time after time they consistently win gold and double gold and a lot of best in class. Our Pinots are the ones that shine! Those ratings are numbers on a paper and the thing that matters to us is the people who drink wine in the area that continue to come back to us year after year for their favorite wines. That’s the reason we keep going!

What is the tasting experience like on the vineyard?

Stephanie: Lots of good wine! There’s also not many places in the area where you can see the vineyards, the tasting room, the production, and the barrels all in one place. It’s all a very sensory experience when you are here.

Jon: Our staffers are educated and can speak eloquently about the wines.

Can you tell us about your wine club? What can wine enthusiasts and your club members look forward to in the near future?

Stephanie: Our club is six times a year with two bottles a shipment. You’re getting roughly a case a year that can be tailored to your preferences if you’re a red drinker, a white fan, or you dabble in both! We want our club members to be getting wine they want to drink and with that you get incredible discounts on our other wine. You also get complimentary tastings with a few friends. Occasionally Paul will fire up the pizza oven too! We occasionally offer barrel tastings for our members as well! It’s not every day a consumer gets to taste the wine directly from the barrel. It’s a very special thing for our members to feel involved in the process. Members who have been with us for many years get to know all of us and it becomes a family driven experience.

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Head on up to Soquel Vineyards tasting room to taste their award winning wines and consider becoming a member! Their tasting room is open Saturday and Sunday, 11-4:30pm at 8063 Glen Haven Rd, Soquel, CA. Call 831-462-9045 to make a reservation or visit
for more information.

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