Nestled between the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west and city of San Jose to the east, tiny Cupertino, California, lies at the edge of the state’s famed Silicon Valley. Not surprisingly, a fifth of the city’s workers are computer specialists. In fact, the biggest employer is Apple Inc., which has made this community of 58,000 residents its world headquarters.
Historically, wine has been just as important to this region as computers, and certainly more so to tourism. Cupertino, in fact, is just east of the oldest wine-producing area in the state. While the original Santa Cruz Mountain vineyards may have been overshadowed by those in Napa and Sonoma Valleys to the north, more than 80 vineyards and wineries still operate in this appellation.
Ridge Vineyards makes an easy day trip from Cupertino. Grapes were first planted here by Italian settlers in 1885. The vineyards straddle Montebello Ridge, producing an assortment of varietals ranging from Cabernets to Chardonnays, Merlots and Zinfandels. A ridge-top tasting room is open for drop-in customers during the weekends and by reservation during the week. Naumann Vineyards is also located in the Santa Cruz Mountains west of town. The day trip concludes in Cupertino, where Picchetti Winery, which shut down its growing operation, still runs a tasting room in town.
One of the major tourism draws in Cupertino is its location next to the extensive Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District in the Santa Cruz Mountains. During the 1970s local citizens, concerned about the rapid pace of development, spear-headed an effort to set aside natural preserves throughout the mountains. Today the district has 26 separate preserves. Connected to these open spaces is the 1,000-acre Stevens Creek County Park, operated by Santa Clara County. In addition to hiking and biking trails, the park has horseback riding trails, a roving archery course and a 92-acre reservoir stocked with bass, catfish and crappie.
DeAnza College is the hub of Cupertino’s cultural scene. The campus of this community college boasts the 2,300-seat Flint Center for the Performing Arts as well as the Fujitso Planetarium, Euphrat Museum of Art and California History Center. The auditorium hosts the vaunted Celebrity Forum, a series of lectures by notables such as filmmaker Ken Burns, humor columnist Dave Barry and President Bill Clinton. Flint Center also hosts musical and dramatic productions. The Euphrat Museum exhibits the works of both nationally recognized artists and emerging talent.
Two outdoor events in Cupertino well worth attending are the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in April and Shakespeare in the Park. In 1978 Cupertino signed a sister-city agreement with Toyokawa, Japan. In honor of the relationship, Toyokawa donated 200 cherry trees to Cupertino in 1983. The city planted the trees at Memorial Park, which became the site of this festival that celebrates Japanese culture through entertainment, demonstrations, arts and crafts, and food and drink. Memorial Park is also the venue for the second major outdoor event, Shakespeare in the Park. Free performances run from July through September.