Thursday,  July 7, 2022  4:14 am

Visit San Jose highlights wine and tech tourism in Vancouver

Visit San Jose highlights wine and tech tourism in Vancouver
Kyle Schatzel, communications manager, Visit San Jose; Katie Dinovo, Ridge Vineyards; Laura Chmielewski, vice president of marketing and communications, Visit San Jose.
Christina Newberry

Christina Newberry is an award-winning travel and lifestyle writer based in Vancouver.

Representatives of Visit San Jose met with travel media in Vancouver last week for a wine-themed dinner to highlight the region’s unique tourism opportunities as a top-notch wine region on the doorstep of Silicon Valley.

Over glasses of award-winning wine from Ridge Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains, PAX spoke with Laura Chmielewski, Visit San Jose’s vice president of marketing and communications, about this forward-looking Northern California destination.

“Nothing is like Silicon Valley,” Chmielewski commented. “It’s where people go to dream a dream. If you want to be where everybody’s thinking, you’ve got to go. You can see Mark Zuckerberg jogging, or Woz [Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak] driving his Prius down the street.”

All the major tech companies offer at least some access to visitors, she noted, from the Google Sculpture Garden to the Apple campus store designed by Jony Ive, the only location where official Apple t-shirts can be bought. The new Apple campus slated to open this year will also have a large visitor centre.

The Tech Museum of Innovation gives visitors a more hands-on tech experience, including at its new Reboot Reality exhibit, where visitors can create virtual 3D art pieces using virtual reality and augmented reality.

Outside of tech tourism, the microclimate and 300 days a year of sunshine make the area a prime destination for wine tourism, where oenophiles can linger over conversations with winemakers without competing with swarms of other tourists, Chmielewski said.

“You’re not going to see any tour buses,” Chmielewski said. “You’re going to see winemakers, and probably their dogs. You’re going to get tours you never thought you’d get, and you’re not going to wait in line.”

The closest wineries are just a 10-minute drive from downtown San Jose, Chmielewski said. Ridge Vineyards, whose wines were featured at the dinner, is less than an hour’s drive away, perched high on the ridge that separates the valley from the Pacific Ocean. The winery was recently named the most admired wine brand in North America by Drinks International magazine.

“No one tells the story of San Jose like a glass of this wine,” Chmielewski told PAX. “It’s the passion of 20 years in one glass.”

While trade resources are still in the works, agents wanting to learn more about San Jose can sign up for the destination’s consumer newsletter at, and communications manager Kyle Schatzel noted that a video blog slated for this summer will provide a closer look for consumers and agents alike. Air Canada flies direct to Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport daily from Vancouver.