The first thing most people will think of when they hear “Silicon Valley” is the tech boom that has taken place here starting in the 70s. The likes of Apple, Google, Yahoo!, eBay, and Facebook have made Silicon Valley synonymous with technology startups and venture capitalists looking to invest in the next best thing. What many people forget is that Silicon Valley is home to some of the best wineries in California. The Santa Clara Valley Region, which is where Silicon Valley is located, has actually been producing wine longer than any other region in the state, and it shows no signs of slowing down.
The Santa Clara Valley was first founded by Spanish explorer Mission Santa Clara in 1777 along with San Jose, which is the oldest town in California. Settlers soon started noticing the rich soil in the region made it possible to grow just about anything, and the Mediterranean climate was optimal for growing crops all year long. The sprawling landscape was full of fruit trees upon settlement, and the nickname “The Valley of Heart’s Delight” was adopted. The land was soon developed into farmland and fields for grazing cattle. The farmland and grazing fields were the primary use of land for many years until the California Gold Rush of the mid 1800s.
As soon as news made its way back east that gold was found in California, immigrants from every nation set out across America to strike it rich. Two nations that were well represented in the Gold Rush were France and Italy. When the French and Italian settlers got to the Santa Clara Valley, they came to a very important realization: The soil and climate made the perfect conditions for growing European grapes. “Vitis Californica” grapes were found growing wildly throughout the region, and they are still used in wines today.
Since that discovery, Silicon Valley has been home to family and commercial wineries of all sizes. There are now over 25 wineries in the valley, and they range from century-old family-owned wineries to brand new establishments looking to make a name for themselves.
Wine holds interest throughout the country, and websites like wine.com are capitalizing on that interest by allowing connoisseurs in any state to order wine online. These websites show the synergy between the new Silicon Valley technology phenomenon and the old Silicon Valley wine boom.
The next time you are in Silicon Valley on tech-related business, stop off at one of the local wineries (Casa de Fruta, Hecker Pass, and Satori Cellars are three of my favorites) to get a taste of what Silicon Valley was producing long before it produced the best technology companies in the world.