New Google visitor center just the place for Silicon Valley tourists

Besides being a glimpse into the valley, it’s supporting artists in Mountain View and beyond

If you’ve ever had out-of-town friends or family visit, you may have had to disappoint them when they asked to “see Silicon Valley.” You’d drive around to tech campuses and see signs for companies like eBay, Adobe, Nvidia, and Netflix. It’s not like Hollywood, where there’s at least a Universal Studios tour.

That’s one reason to be grateful for the new Google Visitor Experience, which opened this week in the unique Gradient Canopy offices on the Mountain View company’s campus. There’s a plaza filled with Burning Man Project art, a 2,600-square-foot gathering space called the Huddle that’s like the best-designed living room in your dream house (and can be booked for meetings by community groups), and a Google store with everything from Pixel watches to Google 25th anniversary bucket hats.

Do you have an aunt visiting from Phoenix? No worries. Take here for art, technology, and food, all in one grand space surrounded by trees. It’s also close to the Computer History Museum, which makes for an excellent combination. Although the Apple Park Visitor Center in Cupertino was the first on the scene, its main draw is the Apple Store, which is easily accessible. Google’s store is the company’s first physical location on the West Coast.

The emphasis on Mountain View and the surrounding Bay Area community, however, is what truly distinguishes the Google Visitor Experience. Miguel Arzabe, an Oakland artist who creates woven art, was hosting hands-on artmaking workshops at the Huddle on Thursday and Friday, and he’ll be back later this month. Also in October, the MACLA gallery in San Jose will host a screen printing workshop, and the Local Color art collective will host a painting activity as well as a button-making workshop.

You can also support local artists in addition to creating your own art. The Moment Marketplace is housed in the Pop-Up Shop next to the Huddle, with the San Jose Made team showcasing locally designed and created goods. The theme for the first three months is “Tiny Objects,” with pins, stickers, and cards, but that will change every quarter to something new.

While there are numerous events planned, the first Community Day on the Plaza will take place on Oct. 21 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with food trucks, live music, and artmaking activities. Visit for more information on this and other events.

BLESSED EVENT: Testarossa Winery in Los Gatos celebrated the 136th harvest on Wednesday afternoon with its traditional “blessing of the grapes,” performed by Rev. Peter Pabst, chancellor of Cristo Rey San Jose Jesuit High School. Testarossa is located on the site of the former Novitiate Winery, and owners Rob and Diana Jensen have had a traditional blessing since taking over in 1997.

Following the ceremony, they hosted a lunch for all former students of the Los Gatos Novitiate, as well as residents and staff of the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, which included some clergy members who picked grapes there beginning in the 1940s.Rob Jensen pointed out that October 11, 1888 was the first harvest at the Novitiate Winery, making it the ideal day for the celebration — not to mention Diana Jensen’s birthday.

The only thing we couldn’t figure out was whether wine made from blessed grapes tastes better. It appeared that determining the answer would require a lot of taste testing, and there was no guarantee that anyone would remember the answer afterwards.

HEARTFELT RETURN: With all the tragedy in Israel, the Silicon Valley Jewish Film Festival, which opens Sunday at the ShowPlace ICON theater in Mountain View, may mean more to festivalgoers than in previous years.

“In times like this, we need to come together as a community,” Silicon Valley Jewish Film Festival Executive Director Tzvia Shelef said in an email to supporters, noting that it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be grateful for Israeli cinema and its depiction of Israeli life. “So as we come together in person, and watch movies at home, let’s as a community mourn with those who are mourning, pray for those who are healing, and thank those who are defending all that we love and value.”

The festival kicks off Sunday at 7 p.m. with “Remembering Gene Wilder,” a documentary about the iconic comic actor, followed by a Q&A with producers David Knight and Julie Nimoy, as well as director Ron Frank, moderated by Jeff Applebaum (himself a funny guy). It will be followed by three more in-theater events at the Palo Alto JCC and the Mountain View ICON, as well as online screenings, until Oct. 29. Find out more at

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