For a truly unique, memorable experience with your partner, close friends, or family members, book a scenic horseback trail ride followed by some wine tasting. Gilroy has two great options for this nearby.
1. Garrod Farms Stables Trail Ride
2. Mt. Madonna Stables Trail Ride
Gilroy is a part of the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail, a group of wineries located in the Santa Clara Valley. The valley extends from Gilroy at the south end to Saratoga in the north. The wineries in this region are diverse, ranging from new boutique wineries to large, beautifully-landscaped properties to historical wineries run by the fourth and fifth generations of their families.
The All-in-One Experience: Garrod Farms Stables and Cooper-Garrod Vineyards
One of the most unique offerings along the Wine Trail is the Garrod Farms Stables & Cooper-Garrod Vineyards in Saratoga, about a 45-minute drive north from Gilroy.
A view of Garrod Farms Stables and Cooper-Garrod Vineyards
Garrod Farms & Cooper-Garrod Vineyards History
Garrod Farms was established by the Garrod family in 1893, where orchards of prunes and apricots were grown. The Fruit House was added in 1922 and used to store dried fruit and hold meetings and square dances; it became the wine tasting room. As agriculture became less profitable, the Garrod family built the stables in 1962 to offer trail rides, riding lessons, and boarding of horses. The first Cooper-Garrod Vineyard was planted in 1972, starting with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.
The Fruit House became the Tasting Room
The farm was originally 66 acres, and the family added more land in the early 1900s until it grew to 240 acres. Vince Garrod helped found the Midpeninsula Open Space District, and the Garrod family sold and donated 120 acres of their land to the District. This land, adjacent to Garrod Farms, became part of the Fremont Older Open Space Preserve and remains open to the public with trails for hiking, biking, and horseback trail rides—including the ones offered by Garrod Farms Stables.
Trail Rides at Garrod Farms Stables
Follow the signs to the Stables when you arrive
For an enjoyable day exploring the beautiful hills of Saratoga, choose from several trail rides at Garrod Farms Stables. Regular one-hour trail rides are available any day of the week. To allow time for a wine tasting afterward, book your ride no later than 2:30 pm, as the winery is open until 5pm (with pouring ending at 4:30pm.) On the first Sunday of each month, you can book a one-hour “Wine Ride” that includes a trail ride followed by a light lunch of artisan sandwiches, a cheese plate, and a wine tasting.
Check-in at the Garrod Farms Stables office
Your guide will fit you with a helmet and prepare you (and your horse) for your ride through the Fremont Older Open Space Preserve.
Along the way, you’ll pass the rows of Cooper-Garrod vineyards, the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains covered in trees, and grassy open spaces.
Depending which trail you take, you may glimpse Silicon Valley landmarks like Moffett Field, Shoreline Amphitheater, and the circular Apple campus—and on very clear days, you can even see San Francisco, Oakland, and Mt. Tamalpais.
Along the way, your trail guide will tell you about the flora, fauna, and interesting stories and facts about the family farm and winery and other points of interest. During a spring and summer ride, you’ll be able to view California poppies, mustard, wild radish, yerba santa, and sticky monkey flower.
Tree varieties surrounding you year-round include oak, eucalyptus, and madrone.
You’re also likely to see wildlife, including squirrels, deer, hawks, and more.
Follow up your trail ride with a relaxing wine tasting. All you’ll have to do is walk a few yards over to the winery, where the wine and small bites await.
Tip: Be sure to bring some cash to tip your guide!
Cooper-Garrod Vineyards and Wine Tasting
The Cooper-Garrod Vineyards is proud to be Certified Sustainable by California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance since 2010 and to have all their vineyards Certified Organic by California Certified Organic Farming (CCOF) since 2011. Although the vineyards started with Cabernet Sauvignon, the winery has added other varietals over the years.
You can book a variety of tasting flights and can enjoy them on the lovely garden patio.
Reservations are recommended for weekends or for groups. While no outside food is allowed, the winery does offer a variety of delicious small bites, such as cheeses, crackers, olives, nuts, charcuterie, and chocolates.
Garrod Farms Stables & Cooper-Garrod Vineyards is a great place to enjoy a relaxed horseback ride with indescribable views and an equally relaxing wine tasting to unwind from the ride.
Mix-and-Match: Mt. Madonna and a Gilroy Winery of Your Choice
If you’d like to stick closer to Gilroy, you can have a similar experience by taking a trail ride through Mt. Madonna County Park and wine tasting along the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail after your ride.
Ride through the Redwoods at Mt. Madonna Stables
Mt. Madonna Stables offers one-hour rides with friendly, knowledgeable trail guides. Your ride will take you through majestic redwoods and oak trees and past grassy meadows as you explore some of Mt. Madonna County Park’s 4,600 acres. To learn more about this trail ride, check out our Equestrian Experiences blog.
Similar to the Garrod Farms Stables experience, we recommend booking your ride for earlier in the day, so you can follow it up with a wine tasting (or two) at the nearby wineries.
Choose Your Own Wine Tasting Adventure in Gilroy
Gilroy is home to many outstanding wineries, and there are several located right along Hecker Pass (Highway 152 West), the same road you take to Mt. Madonna Stables. These include:
- Hecker Pass Winery
Hecker Pass Winery has been family-owned and operated since 1972. The vineyard is dry-farmed and sustainably grown. Hecker Pass Winery traditionally specializes in full-bodied, Italian-style red wines, but they also have a wide selection of wonderful medium-bodied reds, as well as sweet wines and dessert wines.
- Fortino Winery
Fortino Winery is a family-owned and operated winery that has been in business for over 50 years, where they treat all guests (including children and pets) as extensions of their Owner and winemaker Gino Fortino truly prides himself on creating amazing wines the way that his family has been doing it for over 100 years. In addition to wine tasting, Fortino Winery also offers local beers and ciders, wine slushies, specialty wine cocktails, and even a mimosa flight!
- Sarah’s Vineyard
At Sarah’s Vineyard, welcoming hospitality combines with beautiful vineyards amid a tranquil setting. The tasting room is open daily. The owner is often in attendance and the helpful staff is eager to introduce guests to new discoveries, old favorites, and special S.V. releases that are available “only at the source.” The scenic grounds boast fantastic views, bocce ball courts, picnic areas, and a summer music series.
- Solis Winery
There is simply no better place to sit back and relax than at Solis Winery’s beautiful outdoor seating area, sipping a glass of wine and enjoying the scenic views of vineyards nestled against the Gabilan Mountain range. Enjoy concerts throughout the warm weather season on their Vineyard Stage. Once you have had a taste, we know you’ll be back for more!
- Besson Family Vineyards
Sit among the oldest Grenache Vines in the State of California—112 years old! With breathtaking views, a variety of estate wines, and specialty drinks and catered bites, you won’t be rushed to hit the next winery. Winery proprietors Denise Besson (a fourth-generation family member) and James Fahey invite you to join them at Besson Family Vineyards to experience wine tasting that makes you feel like family.
More Horse Adventures: The Gilroy Rodeo
If you want to enjoy more equestrian activities, come to Gilroy in August for our annual Gilroy Rodeo, where you can watch exciting rodeo events, such as tie-down roping, barrel racing, breakaway roping, bull riding, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, team roping, rodeo clowns, flag teams, specialty acts and more! You can also enjoy fun merchandise vendors, food and drink vendors and live music and dancing.
Make the Most of Your Gilroy Getaway
Book an affordable, centrally-located hotel in Gilroy so you can drive to these horseback trail rides and enjoy wine tasting at any number of wonderful wineries along the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail. You can also find a variety of restaurants to enjoy throughout town, featuring our well-known garlic dishes and other great options.
Check out all our visitor maps and guides before you arrive. Be sure to stop in our California Welcome Center Gilroy in the Gilroy Premium Outlets, in section A near Forever 21. We can’t wait to greet you and help you pick out some great souvenirs and help you find other great things to do in Gilroy!