- July through September
- Held at the historic Mountain Winery in the hills above Saratoga, California
- Mountain Winery website
- Admission charged and reservations recommended. See below.
This outdoor venue is built around the historic Paul Masson Winery building, whose front door serves as the backdrop for the stage. On the nicest summer evenings, the ambiance rivals the performance of the best artists who perform here, which is no small feat.
Crowd Factor at Mountain Winery:
Mountain Winery is smaller than most other places you'll find their excellent performers playing. Weekend sell-outs are frequent, but even when the place is full, it doesn't feel overcrowded. On a weekday, you may be able to get tickets at the last minute.
Mountain Winery Tips:
- Bring cash for parking ($20 in the 2012 season)
- You can't take food inside the gates, but you'll find picnic tables near the parking lot - or bring folding chairs and have a tailgate picnic.
- No alcoholic beverages are allowed in the parking lot and the county sheriff's office is very vigilant about enforcement.
- Only service animals are allowed.
- Leave cameras and recording devices at home and be prepared for a bag check.
- It can get very chilly - check the forecasted low for Saratoga and subtract 10 degrees when planning your attire. A light blanket to put over your legs can be especially welcome.
Likes and Dislikes:
We give the Mountain Winery 5 stars out of 5. In our opinion, this is one of the best places in the state to see some excellent performers, with an unmatched combination of atmosphere and intimacy - and unparalleled views.
Where Is Mountain Winery Located?:
Mountain Winery is located in the Santa Cruz Mountains a few miles outside the town of Saratoga. To get to the Mountain Winery, take Big Basin Way (Highway 9) west. Go 3.7 miles out of Saratoga, turn right onto Pierce Road, where you will see a medium-sized, burgundy-colored Mountain Winery sign. After 0.2 miles, turn left at the Mountain Winery gates and drive up the hill to the parking area.
Mountain Winery Tickets and Reservations:
You can also make a reservation to have dinner at the Mountain Winery before the concert, choosing from two levels of fixed-price meals on the Chateau Deck or Winery Deck. Or you can just walk up and get something to eat at the Vineyard Bar & Grill or Marketplace Bistro.
Sold Out Shows:
Tickets for popular performers sell out. Your best bet is to plan ahead, but if you can't, you can still get tickets. Try Craigslist, where you'll need to watch out for fraudulent sellers who may post alongside the legitimate ones. Ticket brokers may also have Mountain Winery tickets, but priced higher than face value. However, they may lower prices at the last minute if they have seats left.
As pretty as the concert area is, its size and layout is its strongest point. Every seat seems to have a good view of the stage, which even in the last row of the bleachers is less than 40 rows away. That puts you closer to the stage than the Hollywood Bowl's nicest boxes. We especially like the seats in the lower rows of section 20 beside the stage for a close-up perspective.
Our only complaint is that the folks dining outside at the Winery Deck seemed to be oblivious to the fact that the warm-up act had started, their talking creating a distracting level of background chatter reminiscent of a bar. Fortunately, they finished before the main act started up.
Mountain Winery draws a range of performers that may include greats like Smokey Robinson and B.B. King or '60s favorites such as Chicago, Creedence Clearwater and The Beach Beach Boys. Other guests have included Erykah Badu, Dave Koz, Lyle Lovett, Huey Lewis and the News and Steve Martin and the Stone Canyon Rangers.
The ambiance is laid back, and you're not likely to find a heavy metal band or rap group performing here. However, if you find an admired performer on their schedule, you'll never have a better chance to see them than this.