Uncategorized

California Dreaming – Central Coast Wine Tour

We just returned from a four day stay near the town of Los Olivos, which is located about 45 minutes north of Santa Barbara, CA.  This area is known as the Santa Ynez Valley and makes a lot of California wine but isn’t as well known as Napa and Sonoma.  This area, despite being further south than Napa and Sonoma, is actually much cooler due to the east-west configuration of the valley so it gets lots of cool marine air at night.  Due to the cooler climate, this wine region is well known for pinot noir and chardonnay and some rhone varietals such as syrah, grenache and mourvedre in the slightly warmer spots.

Our good friend Karen who lives in Seattle flew down and met us in Santa Barbara and we drove out together to Los Olivos where we stayed in the most amazing rental house.  The house was located about a 3 minute drive from town (you could ride bikes or walk into town as it’s that close) but was set back on a quiet country road.  The house was located on a hill so it had sweeping views of the valley.  We also had an outdoor jacuzzi, 4 fireplaces and it was beautifully decorated.  I would rent this place again in a heartbeat!  I’d include a link but it’s actually not online while they repermit it for rentals.  I’ll come back and update later when it’s back up.

Also, just an interesting factoid but about 2 miles down the road is Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.  You can’t go in but you can drive down and see the old entrance gate, which is locked and guarded.  If you’re interested, Neverland Ranch is currently for sale for a mere $30 million.

5F6CB38F-6286-46B4-856B-7616B615A5A3
Walkway and Entrance to our Rental House
FAAE277E-EB00-42F9-ACCC-CE6200C6CC8A
Front walkway
6899C114-96B4-4F3A-8668-690C08C81688
Our master bedroom which also had a fireplace and beautiful views
DAB06B47-9DF2-401A-89D9-F17ABE2C9909
Kitchen island and family room
61E1934A-3C11-4E0C-880E-92E613BD29A1
Part of our back patio with views
388103C2-8A0F-4D1C-8E3E-AC233CEA50AE
Enjoying our outdoor fireplace
B6D4C85C-6E29-4CB3-9D14-D6F1D40ED37E
We couldn’t get over the views from the house!

269671DD-87C6-4F27-BF1E-1615369DEE7C

ECE437DF-B354-4636-BBE5-2056CC352A02
In the side yard which was beautifully landscaped with massive yucca plants and there was an adorable family of bunny rabbits here everyday 

While there are plenty of things to do in the area, our main focus was wine tasting and winery visits.  We stopped by several of our favorite wineries, many of which have lovely picnic areas and views.  The first two days of our trip, we picked up sandwiches to go and had picnic lunches.  We have found several places in Napa and Willamette will not allow you to do picnics on the site of the winery due to local laws or trying to get you to buy a more expensive meal at the winery so we love how laid back this area is.  The wineries we visited and I recommend are: Blackjack Winery; Dierberg Star Lane Winery; Foxen Winery; Sanford Winery; LaFond Winery; Zotovich Winery; Brewer Clifton Winery and Samsara Wines.

I also highly recommend two scenic drives – the Santa Rosa Road and Foxen Canyon Road, which have lovely views and very little traffic and has wineries located on each that make great stops for picnics.

407EB02E-2875-4016-A60D-9A1DB84AF12D
View from Sanford Winery on the Santa Rosa Road
997F2636-0265-475D-B308-9D8F5C7EC64F
Sanford Winery on Santa Rosa Road
91068A58-06B2-4275-AD96-F59A88215CD1
Sanford Winery
68F6D10F-1E07-4D59-AE6E-D1EB5751F632
Vineyards on the Santa Rosa Road
B8D90D28-EDE7-4373-BF2B-5AA7C738BEC2
Picnic lunch at Dierberg Star Lane
533FA3DD-5E37-4856-9AF2-F4A673EB4631
View looking out from Dierberg Star Lane Tasting Room
689AD8A9-0BE5-4D18-BE4E-A66E3CD63049
Me and Karen on Foxen Canyon Road where we stopped for a photo op
D39F9C57-3563-41A9-B7E4-2FEF2F5AE52B
Views while driving on Foxen Canyon Road
A7163653-D81C-456B-8114-3415F93C62F5
Stephen enjoying a picnic lunch at Foxen Winery on Foxen Canyon Road.  We love to get smoked tri-tip sandwiches at the local grocery store in Los Olivos
46904B2D-364E-45FC-B52B-7095D8EDEC33
Our first tasting was at Blackjack Winery on Alamo Pintado Road

The town of Los Olivos is very quaint and charming and it also boasts over 30 tasting rooms in just a small two block area.  It’s so nice to end the day with one last tasting here and to pop into some of the cute stores for some souvenir shopping.

532A799A-6565-44D5-9E1C-01CB34319BA9
Enjoying the patio at Carharrt Winery in Los Olivos
3AB6325A-33A2-44DE-9BC8-B21D1969CED6
We had such beautiful weather this trip too!

This trip was all about relaxing and catching up with our friend who we only get to see once a year since she moved to the Pacific Northwest.  We slept in each morning and lingered over coffee and pastries we picked up in town and then headed out around lunch time to do some scenic drives, lunch and taste some delicious wines.  We limited ourselves to 3 tastings a day and then headed back to our rental house to enjoy the sunset with a bottle (or two or three), make a nice fire, heat up some dinner (we had leftovers twice and ordered pizzas another night) and even slipped into the jacuzzi hot tub a few times as well.  We never got tired of the views.  We did go into town a few days to shop and have some lunch.  Our favorite restaurants in this area are:  Hitchin’ Post II in Buellton; Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe; Sides Restaurant in Los Olivos.  We also highly recommend getting sandwiches for picnics at either the Succulent Pig Cafe in Solvang or at the R-Country Store in Los Olivos.

8362CC98-1E53-43B9-A230-D273D38AF3D0
Sunset views from our patio
CEE59DE8-BF42-4B37-9088-DAA7009EC54C
Afternoons of wine and cheese on the patio
4476D876-B0A1-413D-AC60-AAF7E2949E95
Hot air balloons are frequently spotted in the area
5629D822-B5FE-4C49-9116-2C0F6159EE6F
Best cheeseburger in town at Sides Restaurant in Los Olivos
2DBD77CB-F6BA-491B-AD3A-3B4C8452B9F9
Loved this sign at the local garden center in Los Olivos
88450AF0-2822-458E-87EE-81EBCF525C98
The old gas station is now a cafe and store
5FE49CF1-5AA0-4A99-A365-AB4B0AC013FA
So many cure stores in town

We were so sad to pack up and leave yesterday.  We were fortunate that we were able to get our flights perfectly timed.  We flew back to Dallas and Karen flew to Seattle and our flights arrived and departed within minutes of each other so no one had to wait around for the other. We are already talking about doing this same trip again next year and I think 4 nights is the perfect amount of time for this area if you really want a good sampling of the wine and the food and don’t want to be rushed.  It’s so much more low-key and less hoity-toity than Napa or Sonoma so I highly recommend this region.  You can also combine this with a stay in Santa Barbara for an extra night or two if you want some beach time as well.

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s