With an illustrious career in the realm of food and wine, sommelier Mark Bright is set to infuse the Santa Cruz Mountains with European flavors. Mark's name may ring a bell from his famed San Francisco restaurant, Saison, which earned two Michelin stars in 2009. Since then, it has consistently secured a Wine Spectator "Grand Award" every year since 2014 and even found a place on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
Mark Bright's culinary journey continued as he co-founded Saison Hospitality Group, delving deeper into the realms of food, beverages, and hospitality. Following the successful launch of Saison Cellar, a wine tasting haven in downtown Los Gatos, Bright, a resident of Ben Lomond and an accomplished winemaker, is preparing to unveil a unique wine tasting concept in Scotts Valley.
Scheduled to open on October 27, Saison Cellar & Wine Bar will find its home in the Kings Village Shopping Center, nestled behind Nob Hill and neighboring Erik's Deli Cafe. It's an innovative venture, the first of its kind, that promises not only to provide a platform to enjoy wine but also to learn and explore it.
The establishment will offer two distinct areas, each catering to a different facet of the wine experience. The front room will take on the persona of a cozy wine bar, equipped with plush couches, dining tables, bar seating, and an inviting outdoor area. Here, guests can savor wines by the flight or glass, sharing a toast to exceptional taste.
The back-room cellar is designed as a welcoming lounge, reminiscent of a private club but without the formality or membership dues. It houses 30 temperature-controlled lockers, where collectors can securely stash their prized possessions. This cellar area aims to become a gathering place for wine enthusiasts, fostering wine education, hosting events, and presenting themed tastings.
Visitors will not only discover Mark Bright's cherished selection of wines amassed over the years but also his personally curated collection of wine-themed art. The vast assortment features over 300 wine bottles, primarily from French regions like Loire, accompanied by notable German, Italian, and Spanish labels.
Mark Bright's attachment to France runs deep, and he proudly owns properties in Beaune and Ben Lomond. He has wholeheartedly embraced the mountain lifestyle, complete with a French-inspired chateau in Ben Lomond, complete with a vineyard. Mark's unique approach involves replanting Aligoté vines, giving the vineyard a composition of approximately 92% Aligoté and 8% Chardonnay—a delightful twist on a traditional French practice.
Bright's endeavors don't stop at Saison Cellar & Wine Bar. He is expanding his horizons, planning to open a hotel in Beaune. Additionally, a new wine bar is on the horizon in San Francisco's SOMA district, just a couple of doors away from Les Clos, a wine bar he previously owned and sold in 2017.
Mark is also gaining recognition for his Partage label, making its debut at the 2016 Silicon Valley Winegrowers Auction at Levi’s Stadium. The 2014 Partage Coast Grade Pinot Noir, in particular, captivated wine enthusiasts, with its tantalizing blend of wild strawberry, roasted red plum, cedar, basil, fern, and fennel. Today, Mark cultivates his estate fruit in the Ben Lomond Mountain AVA, producing Coast Grade Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Bald Mountain. He collaborates with various wineries for his other varietals, ensuring a diverse range of wines.
Saison Cellar & Wine Bar is all set to offer wines from local producers, including Beauregard, Regan, Kathryn Kennedy, Vokel, Mount Eden, and Saison. The menu features a Saison Riesling from Wirz Vineyard, enhancing the traditional Parisian wine bar ambiance Mark aims to create.
The new Wine Bar and Cellar will have a team led by Tony Pappa, a dedicated tennis player and local Scotts Valley resident, as the manager, and Jane McElrone, another local, who shares a passion for wine, food, and music, as the director of operations.
Santa Cruz County boasts an array of Michelin-rated talent. In the city of Santa Cruz, Gabriella Café, Quail & Condor, and Colectivo Felix feature chefs with Michelin restaurant experience. Mentone in Aptos also has Michelin pedigree in the kitchen. And now Scotts Valley joins the ranks with acclaimed sommelier Mark Bright's new wine bar. From north to south, the county's impressive culinary scene reflects the caliber of its Michelin-starred arrivals.
Saison Cellar & Wine Bar, located at 222 Mt. Hermon Rd, Suite I, in the King's Village Shopping Center, will open its doors from Wednesday to Sunday, 12 to 9 pm, starting Friday, October 27th. Reservations are available but not mandatory.
Mark Bright's story is a testament to his love for wine, from the enchanting vineyards of Burgundy to the captivating charm of Santa Cruz, and now, he's inviting you to join him in savoring the finest wines in a setting that's as unique as it is welcoming.