For 30 years, Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard was located at one of the oldest continuously operated vineyards in California, originally established in 1863 as the Jarvis Brothers Vineyard. Ken Burnap started the winery in 1975, setting out to make the finest Pinot Noir possible in California. Ken had done years of research into what conditions were necessary to produce good Pinot Noir, and the Santa Cruz Mountains region ended up being his final choice as the area with the greatest potential for excellent wines. The first release under the Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard label was the highly regarded 1975 vintage.
In 1979 Ken hired Jeff Emery for part-time cellar work and vineyard tending while Jeff was working on a degree at UCSC. By the time he graduated (in geology) he was hopelessly seduced by the joys of growing grapes and making wine and couldn't possibly look for a real job. A wonderful apprenticeship and collaboration was established between Ken and Jeff. By the time Ken retired in 2002 Jeff had fully taken over the day-to-day business operations and the winemaking. In the summer of 2004, Ken sold the vineyard property on Jarvis Road, and the winemaking operations for Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard moved with Jeff to a new location, to its present location on the west side of the City of Santa Cruz. Jeff Emery practices a natural approach to vineyard management and winemaking. His vineyards are farmed both sustainably and organically, with minimal yields, wild yest ferments, and use of neutral oak. The resulting wines have achieved a wonderful balance of acidity, flavor and low alcohol.