Visiting and local wine enthusiasts will soon have options besides their sometimes unreliable GPS systems in navigating South County’s 20-plus wineries and vineyards—some tucked deep into the folds of rural hillsides—as county officials approved a new sign program directing motorists to the viticultural destinations.
The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to adopt the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail Route and approved a wayfinding signage program that clears the way for installation of directional signs that by the end of summer 2014 will guide motorists to key destinations of the south Silicon Valley wine industry.
“By sitting down with the wine community and our roads department, we were able to overcome past obstacles and create a directional signs program that is both aesthetically pleasing and promotes the viticulture industry,” said Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors First District Supervisor Mike Wasserman. “The signs will enable both locals and visitors from all areas to easily find our award-winning wineries—a real win-win for our county.”
Adoption of the wine trail was a collaborative effort by the county, cities of Morgan Hill and Gilroy and local business community, according to proponents.
The soon-to-be clearly marked route will celebrate the agricultural heritage of a wine industry that dates back to the late 18th century and promote agritourism and stimulate economic development, according
Santa Clara County's wine trail signage will combine with efforts by the cities of Morgan Hill and Gilroy to direct oenophiles to wine facilities within their respective city limits, according to county staff. Signs in unincorporated county areas—featuring the logo of the Wineries of Santa Clara Valley association—will be installed by the end of summer 2014, organizers said.
Wine association members brainstormed the wine trail idea more than a year ago and as part of the board’s action Tuesday will pay for the installation and maintenance of any replacement or new signs needed along the SCV Wine Trail route in the future.
The county’s adoption of an official wine trail for Santa Clara Valley is “fabulous,” said Greg Richtarek, Guglielmo Winery’s marketing director and President of the WSCV association.
“It’s good that somebody’s paying attention,” Richtarek said.
The next step for the SCV Wine Trail will be future collaborative efforts with the cities of Morgan Hill and Gilroy and chambers of commerce from both to ensure signage is abundantly publicized and posted permanently on maps far outside the county, organizers said.
Wine trail signage will guide motorists in a circle through South County, along Watsonville Road, Hecker Pass Highway and the east sides of Gilroy, San Martin and Morgan Hill using New and Foothill avenues, according to county staff. Branches off the main trail will direct vehicles to more remote wineries, and signs reminding motorists “Don’t Drink and Drive” will be installed and key locations along the route, officials said.
In the future, county officials said they plan to link the trail to wineries in the northern and western parts of Santa Clara and Santa Cruz mountains to create an even larger wine loop.
Tourism officials in the city of Gilroy said they are excited about the prospects for future growth.
“The adoption of the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail Route and signage program will contribute to the economic vibrancy of the county by increasing agritourism to the region,” Gilroy Welcome Center Executive Director Jane Howard said.
Morgan Hill resident Jon Hatakeyama noted that the implementation of a wine trail has been a two-year process. Hatakeyama chairs the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail Committee, which is made up of representatives from the county, cities of Morgan Hill and Gilroy, the wineries and the business community.
“People will dine in our restaurants, shop in our stores and stay in our hotels to sample what Santa Clara County has to offer,” Hatakeyama said.