A mineral spring similar to the famous Saratoga Springs in NewYork state gave California’s Saratoga its name in 1865 and made it a popular resort for decades.
Rich soil and the area’s Mediterranean climate proved a perfect environment for growing fine wine grapes. Famed vintner Paul Masson created an estate whose buildings and arboretum are now open to the public.
Saratogans have always fought hard to keep their town small and residential. It remains rural, with towering redwoods and bans on sidewalks and street lights in some neighborhoods.
Zoning regulations support larger lot sizes — a recent residential development proposal included homes on 1.73-acre lots.
Saratoga, like its neighbors Los Gatos and Monte Sereno, is a quiet haven for the wealthy, who appreciate its excellent restaurants, antique stores, European bakeries, vintage architecture and firstrate schools.
For its size, Saratoga has an abundance of parks, including one with a town history museum.The Japanese-style Hakone Gardens, with bamboo and water-strolling gardens, is one of the largest of its kind outside of Japan.The Montalvo Arts Center is 175 acres of welltended greenery and home to an active arts program. At the Paul Masson-built Mountain Winery, which dates back to the 19th century, visitors from all over the Bay Area come to enjoy wine tasting and its annual series of concerts featuring well-known pop, rock, jazz and classical music performers. Drama fans have easy access to the Saratoga Civic Theater, Shady ShakespeareTheatre Company and West Valley CollegeTheater. And the annual Saratoga Rotary Art Show is one of the oldest in the area.