Rootstock Showcases Local Wine


I always thought a wine bar that focused on local wines would be a winner. There are a growing number of wine bars in Silicon Valley, but few capitalize on the viticultural riches of the Santa Cruz Mountains and instead look to Napa, Sonoma and beyond. But Rootstock, which opened in downtown Los Gatos in October, has put the wines of the vast Santa Cruz Mountains appellation front and center.

The wine bar is a joint venture between Jim Foley and Joe and Joey McCarthy. All three work at McCarthy Land Company, a Los Gatos-based real estate development company. The McCarthy family produces its own label of estate wine and when the real estate market began to slow the three men decided a wine bar might offer a good opportunity to showcase the McCarthyís wine, grown in the Los Gatos hills above the former Jesuit novitiate, as well as other premium local wines.

“There are a lot of great wines right here in our back yard,” said Foley.

Because many Santa Cruz wineries are small and hard to reach, many don’t have tasting rooms. Before opening and choosing their list of wines, Foley and Joe and Joey McCarthy explored the back roads of the Santa Cruz Mountains to see what the area had to offer.

“We went out to some wild places down some dirt roads,” he said.

The wine bar is a good looker. Outside there are cushy chairs and couches on an appealing patio. Inside, there’s a long bar with wood-topped stools and café tables. In back comfy couches and give the place a lounge-like, modern feel. An eclectic mix of music pulses throughout the space.

More than half of the wine list is given over to local wines. There are many more familiar wines like Testarossa, David Bruce, Ridge, and Kathryn Kennedy, what I like are some of the smaller, harder to finds like Sensorium, Damselfy and Los Gatosí own Downhill winery.

Because the wine bar is so close to many of the wineries Rootstock showcases there are regular winemaker events where local winegrowers come in to show off their stuff.

Like nearby Enoteca La Storia, Rootstock has a barebones kitchen. No stove or grill, just a convection oven. And yet Rootstock coaxes a lot of food out of that kitchen. As you would expect, there are cheese and charcuterie plates but also some burley sandwiches ($8) that come with potato chips specially made for Rootstock. Check out the ìcougar,î roast beef, lamb chopper cheese, arugula, caramelized onions, and creamy horseradish on a ciabatta roll.

One of the hits on the menu is the baked eggs with pecorino cheese and smoked salt on toast ($10).

While it’s primarily a wine bar, there is a handful of interesting brews, too. When I was there I spotted a dark Belgian ale from San Diego’s Los Abbey Brewery, an Evil Cousin imperial IPA from Pennsylvania’s Heretic Brewing Co. and an Old Thumper double British ale from Mainés Shipyard Brewing Co.

There have always been plenty of beer and booze bars in Los Gatos, but with places like Cin Cin, Enoteca La Storia (which plans to open a wine and tapas bar near Cin Cin) and now Rootstock the grape is getting its due. And thanks to Rootstock, local wines are, too.


217 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos. 408.354.7668.

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