Among the lesser known mountain ranges of the Bay Area is the short Gabilan Range, nestled between the Salinas Valley and the San Andreas Fault. The hillsides now are green with grass and cattle range on the lower elevation, while higher up in hidden valleys are remote vineyards of the Mount Harlan appellation. I wanted to climb Mount Harlan, one of the highest peaks in the range, and contacted Deirdre Ryan at the Calera Wine Company.

It was a clear day, and an easy drive up to the vineyards, and then a steep, steep climb up a fire break to the brushy summit. Again great views. To the east the Diablo Range stretched towards the central Valley; to the west was the Santa Lucia Range and, beyond, the ocean. The air was still, the February sun warm and relaxing, and the mountain and vineyards were a calm oasis, miles and centuries away from city life.

It’s not every hike that ends up with a wine tasting, most enjoyable, and now I have a bottle of Mount Harlan Viognier for a special occasion. Valentines??