Spend a flowering spring afternoon hiking at Picchetti Ranch Open Space Preserve in the Cupertino foothills, topped off with a wine tasting afterward.
Not only do you get exercise and take in some fresh air – benefiting your physical and mental health – but the winery buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. You’ll learn something new and reward yourself for showing up.
Picchetti (pronounced Pick-etti) Winery, 13100 Montebello Road, allows customers to build their own flights of five wines for $10. The grounds boast 10 picnic tables, first come, first served.
Since 1976, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District has operated the ranch, leasing the Picchetti Winery to a private party. Proprietor and CEO Leslie Pantling has run the establishment since 1998, and Aimee Baker is winemaker for Picchetti Cupertino.
To get there, follow Montebello Road up the mountain. Just past the quarry, park in the lot. The trailhead is just across the road. It seems odd that the trailhead starts as gravel, but soon the scenery opens up. Keep walking until you see the sign for the 1.9-mile-long Zinfandel Trail.
The ranch hike offers some options: Explore the 3-mile dirt loop meandering near Stevens Creek Reservoir or concentrate on the shorter Zinfandel Trail. The Bear Meadow Trail leads hikers to a small pond fit for a picnic.
Bear right to continue, or left to explore the Orchard Loop Trail. Around this time of year, pear trees bloom and you might also see the white flower of plum trees and the pink flowers of apricot trees.
Some trails are open to both hikers and equestrians, but never to cyclists. At a particularly narrow patch, we had to flatten ourselves against the foliage to make room for what seemed like a very tall horse and rider.
Peacocks may strut across the groomed grass of the winery, where you can return to listen to music while you taste the wines.
Originally a complex of seven buildings constructed by Italian brothers Secondo and Vincenzo between 1880 and 1920, the Picchetti Winery sits on a ridge they named “Monte Bello,” Italian for “beautiful mountain.”
Among the first winemakers in what would become Santa Clara County’s foremost viticulture center, the brothers became important figures in the local economy.
After Vincenzo died in 1904, his sons Antone and John took over the business. The Santa Clara County Historical Heritage Commission funded the restoration of the original brick winery building.
The flight of wine proved to be enjoyable, with the band playing in the background. Our server was knowledgeable and steered us away from a bottle that wasn’t a good value. The winery knocks $5 off your purchase if you buy the wine flight.
We purchased two wines, a $38.95 Cabernet Sauvignon Belliciti and a 2009 Zinfandel for $60. And we have some pleasant memories to boot. You can’t really bottle that.
For more information, visit www.picchetti.com.