The Mountain Winery is built around the old 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 appear here, which is no small feat.
Concerts are held July through early October, and there's no better place to go in the San Francisco area for a nice evening out. It would be worth a drive up the mountain just for the views, but that's only the beginning.
The concert venue is gorgeous, with the old Paul Masson Winery building as the stage and rows of grapevines in the background. Seats are comfortable, and the sound is excellent.
The only thing that you need to do is to decide which concert you want to to go to this year. You can find the calendar on the Mountain Winery website. They usually announce the upcoming season in mid-April.
The Mountain Winery Experience
The Mountain Winery has long been a Bay-area favorite for its sweeping views, and cozy atmosphere but a major renovation completed in 2008 pushed it into a new league. The yellow stone front of the Paul Masson Winery building still serves as the backdrop for the stage, but the seating area is larger, outfitted with comfortable seats, lots of legroom and touches that acknowledge the property's winery heritage.
As pretty as the concert area is, its size and layout are its strongest point.
Every seat seems to have a good view of the stage. Even in the last row of the bleachers, the stage is less than 40 rows away. That puts you closer than you would be in the Hollywood Bowl's nicest boxes. I especially like the seats in the lower rows of Section 20, which are beside the stage and give a close-up perspective.
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 Boys. Other guests have included Jewel, Dave Koz, Lyle Lovett, k.d. lang, 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.
If you miss an artist you like at the Mountain Winery, many of them make a west coast summer tour and also show up on the program at Humphrey's in San Diego, Vina Robles Amphitheater in Paso Robles, or the Greek Theatre Los Angeles.
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. Current rates are on their website.
- You can't take food past the ticket takers (who are at the entrance to the property), 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. 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 on the mountain. Check the forecasted low for Saratoga and subtract 10°F when planning your attire. A light blanket to cover your legs can be especially welcome.
Where Is Mountain Winery Located?
Mountain Winery is in the Santa Cruz Mountains a few miles outside the town of Saratoga. Their address is 14831 Pierce Rd. Saratoga, CA.
To get there, take CA Hwy 9 west from Saratoga and watch for a medium-sized, burgundy-colored Mountain Winery sign, which marks the turn. Drive up the hill and turn left at the Mountain Winery gates.
Mountain Winery Tickets and Reservations
Buy ahead of time for weekends and famous performers.
You can also make a reservation to have dinner at the Mountain Winery before the concert. 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 may still be able to get tickets. Try Stubhub, where individuals can sell their extra tickets.
More Summer Concerts
If you want to make a weekend of it, check this guide to California’s best outdoor summer concerts.