[Best of the Santa Clara Valley 1997]

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Best of Cupertino

Ridge Winery
Swoon With a View: The romantic elements at Ridge Winery make it a perfect spot for an afternoon kiss.

Best Buss Stop
High up where the air is thinner, the sun brighter and the wind wilder, a subtle change in brain chemistry induces a propensity for romance. Add a few drops of an alcoholic libation, and the stage is set for breaking down all barriers to that first kiss. Unbelievers might want to test this axiom at the picnic ground of Ridge Winery. Set amid a vineyard and a flower garden, it commands a panoramic view of Silicon Valley. Sometimes, the clouds fluff over the back of the mountains and into the valley; other times, the sunlight bathes everything, lifting even the gauzy veil on Oakland and San Francisco. Sweeten this visual treat with an excellent bottle of red wine, which, by the way, is the stock in trade at Ridge, and that first caress of lips is inevitable. The tasting room is open 11am to 3pm on weekends.
17100 Monte Bello Road, Cupertino (408/867-3233)

Best Leisurely Hike With a Bottle of Wine
For those who prefer hiking with a bottle of wine, picnic food and a novel instead of Powerbars and Gatorade, Sunrise Winery and the adjacent Picchetti Ranch Area of Monte Bello Open Space Preserve provide the perfect escape. Set between the hills of Stevens Canyon and Monte Bello roads, Sunrise Winery is open for tastings and sales of its high-quality, affordable reds Friday through Sunday (11am-3pm). Around the winery winding trails offer plenty of serene nature. The easy Zinfandel Trail travels through some beautiful back country; a pond at the junction with Bear Meadow Trail is one of the area's best rustic picnic spots.
13100 Monte Bello Road, Cupertino (408/741-1310)

Best Little Taipei
Longtime Cupertino residents can be heard murmuring, "Whatever happened to sleepy little Vallco Village?" It is gone, razed, uprooted and culturally transformed. In its place thrives Cupertino Village Shopping Center, a bustling metropolis that contains everything but housing tracts. The retrofitted mall of Chinese and Taiwanese businesses runs the gamut, plentiful and diverse enough to operate as a mini-city center.

Offices for doctors, dentists and optometrists share the space with an herb shop, a ginger shop, a snack shop, a dry cleaner, a tea house, a diner serving Taipei's version of Western food, a Chinese restaurant, a Taiwanese-Chinese restaurant, an Asian grocery store, a bakery and several other enterprises still under construction. English isn't universally spoken here, which makes it even easier to pretend that this really is a far-flung suburb of Taipei.
Wolfe and Homestead roads, Cupertino

Best Kung Fu Video Rentals
In the mood for some Hong Kong kung fu? How about a 30-volume Hong Kong soap opera? Maybe a cooking show in Cantonese? Or the latest Hong Kong fashion slicks? Whatever a Chinese-fluent patron wants, chances are that Cupertino Library has it. With more than a third of its borrowed material coming out of its Asian archive, the library has plenty of incentive to add to its already extensive collection of books, magazines, comics, CDs, tapes, videos, CD-ROMs and Mandarin online card catalogue. Cupertino Library's Asian media compilation, started in the mid-'70s, is the largest public collection in the South Bay.
10400 Torre Ave., Cupertino (408/446-1677)

Best '90s Re-creation of 'Cheers' Culture
After a decade of reruns, the defunct TV series Cheers has left many wishing for some place "where everybody knows your name." Since the neighborhood bar has pretty much gone the way of the show, people feel a little lost these days. But for a lucky few who have discovered the Roasted Coffee Bean, bar culture--albeit minus the alcohol--is still alive and well.

Swathed in gleaming blond wood and featuring a central bar shaped much like Norm's favorite, the place is gorgeous, particularly in the early morning when the sunrise floods the room and turns the steam rising off the cups of java into swirling gold dust. Proprietors Zohreh and J.P. Carlson have been roasting beans locally since 1981, long before others jumped on the java bandwagon.
19110 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino (408/725-1919)

Best Place to Woo Investors
When courting investors from Asia, it is good to remind them that California is still Gum San--the land of the golden mountains, the land of opportunity that Chinese looked to in the 1800s. It is also good to point out that, historically, Chinese have played a major role in California's economy. There is no better place to do this than at the Cupertino Museum.

The Cupertino Historical Society (established in 1967) has mounted a handsome exhibit in the newly constructed and very posh Quinlan Community Center. Titled Toward the Golden Mountain: An Historical View of the Chinese in the Santa Clara Valley, the exhibit is a well-researched work curated by John Handley, displaying various photos and Chinese-American artifacts. Among the items is an 1880 census that counted 2,695 Chinese (or 8 percent of the population), 2,307 Irish, 1,007 Germans, 975 Mexicans and 173 blacks.
10185 N. Stelling Road, Cupertino (408/973-1495)

Best Suburban Getaway
Neighborhood parks offer various rustic pleasures, but few allow visitors to transcend civilization and go back to nature, even if only briefly. McClellan Ranch Park does just that. Located in the suburban neighhborhood surrounding Monta Vista High School, this small oval of open space features a secluded pathway along Stevens Creek that provides the illusion of being miles into a pristine forest. Birds abound here--no surprise, given that it's also the headquarters of the local Audubon Society chapter. And it's a nice place to get away with the kids: While parents enjoy the peacefulness of the river walk, their less contemplative offspring will be amused by the community gardens, the abandoned horse stables, a sunny meadow and the Audubon Society center, with its small gift and book shop.
22221 McClellan Road, Cupertino (408/252-3747)

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From the Sept. 18-24, 1997 issue of Metro.

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