1 County + 4 Days + 19 wineries + 52 bottles
My husband and I have been in California for 2 years. One thing I love about California is access to great wine! It is not just the wine I love but, the total experience and culture of the wine industry. Honestly, I feel more at home in the small wine towns than I do in the big city of San Diego. The atmosphere is more rustic and FRIENDLY like Texas. The temperatures are more like Texas temp,and tons of sunshine. Awe, did I mention the trees. San Diego doesn’t have many oaks just palms. Oaks add to the country feeling.
Recently my hubby and I made 2 trips up to Santa Barbara County. These two trips were back to back weekends. These trips were our first trips up to Santa Barbara Wine area because we were not looking forward to the drive. I am not sure where I stand now as I am not a fan of a long drive, but I do have to say- Santa Barbara County is exactly what I expected. I would simply describe it as something between Temecula and Sonoma. As a final clarification, it was closer to Sonoma, but uniquely.
Below is a short run down of our stops. I hope to expand each stop at a later date, but I thought I would give you a quick taste of our fun time.
Trip 1: Day 1
I loved the pretty grounds and the drive up. Our tasting room host was personable and made our visit fun. All around for me the wines were okay. I did find a favorite.
Purchased: 2007 Santa Ynez Valley Grenache
I loved the great big yard for my dog to run around and a huge tasting room. I found this stop to be very touristy and the tour was not up to my expectations.
Purchased: nothing- so unlike me!
This winery was out on the Foxen Canyon wine trail. It is one of the Jackson Family Wines labels. Ahem! Kendall Jackson. The wine tasting was wonderful as were the wines.
Purchased: 13 bottles! (1 2009 Viogner, 2 2007 Pinot Noir Clone 23, 2 2007 Pinot Noir Clone 667, 2 2006 Santa Maria Valley Syrah, 1 2009 Late Harvest Viogner, 4 2006 Rae’s Chardonnay)
This was our last stop.My in-laws are members so we enjoyed a free tasting with a discounted purchases. I thought the syrah and petit syrah were great. We plan to come back and make this winery one of our first stops.
Purchased: 3 Petite Sirah, 3 Iris Syrah
Trip 1: Day 2
Visited the new tasting room in downtown Los Olivos. We found this stop to be very dog friendly with great tasting wine. Again this winery is under the Jackson Family Wine umbrella. Nice and roomy with wine displays. Dexter enjoyed the view and the activity. Ruff! Ruff! for Byron.
Purchased: 2006 Nielson Vineyard Santa Maria Grenache, 2006 Bien Nacido Santa Maria Pinot Noir
This stop became my favorite of this trip. While chatting at Byron this stop was recommended. A-man to the suggestion as the experience was amazing. Our tasting room host really knew his/her stuff and VOLUNTEER the info. We came away with awesome info and amazing wines. We loved it so much we joined the club.
Purchased: 9 bottles (2 2006 Hilltops Syrah, 2 2007 Hilltops Syrah, 2 2008 Sauvingon Blanc, 2 L’Avion, 1 Rose (sangiovese))
Sarloos and Sons
This place is insane busy. They have a cupcake pairing. Be sure to get there early or you will miss out on the cupcakes paring. I found the wines to be decent for my tasting. The atmosphere was fun with a modern vibe. I defiantly would be this on the must visit as yummy.. cupcake, nice relaxing porch with chairs. Free tasting if you check in on four square! Sorry I do not have a picture of the cupcake. My appetite took over and hmmm.. down it went. You’ll just have to go and experience the wine and the cupcakes.
Purchased: nothing, at this point I had so much wine already in the car and I wasn’t in love with any they offered
This winery is family owned and operated. Owner, Mike, poured for us even though it was after closing. He said they close whenever. The place got really busy half way through our tasting. They offer patio tastings since they have the a small tasting room. I really did like their wine and casual atmosphere. Dexter also gives it a paw-up!
Purchased: 1 2009 Camp Four Santa Ynez Grenache Blanc, 2008 Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir
Trip 2: Day 1
I was really excited about visiting this winery because of its historical background in the county. Sadly the tasting room staff offered no insight into their background. My thirst for info and lack of fulfillment must have impacted my wine experience as I found their wines to be okay. If you are like me and information is as eventful as a great glass of wine you might skip this winery.
Purchased: 1 2006 Sta. Rita Hills
A friend of a friend recommended we stop here. Their wines were not memorable. We made two stops in the Sta. Rita Hills area and did not have a favorite. Any suggestions out there?
Purchased: 1 2008 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir (interesting note- this was the only screw top bottle we came across in the county)
The owner has several wineries. Each are named after his duaghters: Lindsey and Courtney. I enjoyed the friendly talkative tasting room staff.
Purchased: 1 2008 Sta. Rite Hills Pinot Blanc
This was another recommendation from our visit at Byron. Different take on wines from the typical Rhone-varietals. I found this to be common in the county. The atmosphere was nice inside/outside. Dexter did not make this trip. He missed out on making a new friend.
Purchased: 1 2007 Fe Ciega Sta Rita Hills Pinot Noir
ehh, can’t say I would recommend, we received little to no attention, they were setting up for a wedding, wines were forgettable for me but this was our last stop before we went back to the hotel, also no deli as advertised, sad hungry husband
Stolpman Wine Dinner
This is what we came in town for again (2nd week in a row). We joined the wine club on our last trip up and they have this dinner once a year. We couldn’t miss out! It was a blast being out in the vineyard since their tasting room is in Los Olivos. We got to drink all of their great wine as well as some older ones too. We had guided vineyard tours by the owner, live music, food all under the shade of a large oak tree. Can’t get much better!
Trip 2: Day 2
Heard this place was big and touristy but most of the wineries we wanted to go to weren’t open yet so we made this our first stop. We had the tasting room to ourself; they do have a great view indoors out over the vineyard. Their wines weren’t anything compared to the Stolpman we had before. The prices were quite a bit less than what we had been purchasing so we neded up buying something anyways.
Purchased: 1 2008 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay, 1
New friends we met at the Stolpman dinner recommended a few places. Thsi was one of them; they were members. We loved their wine and decided that Ballard Canyon was our favorite area on Santa Barbara County. It is a very very windy road but well worth it! After we bought 6 bottles and had left, we thought “We should have joined the club!”. So next time we just might do that!
Purchased: 1 2008 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay, 1 2008 Santa Maria Valley Reserve Chardonnay, 1 2007 Ballarc Canyon Estate Syrah, 1 2008 Santa Maria Pinot Noir
We tried to go here Saturday but it was too packed and their tour was sold out. So we decided to grab a spot on the tour for Sunday and come back. It was a great idea. While this place is a large tasting room that does get crowded, I would highly recommend upgrading to the tour. I only have only been on one tour in the area and I don’t think you could do worse (Fess Parker). ANyhow this tour surprised me, we got the story of the winery, little tid bits about the area and property (backs up to Neverland Ranch), and the tour end with a truffle and Syrah port pairing. The last thing should be reason enough, and I am not even a port person!
Purchased: 6 bottles (2 2007 Santa Lucia Highlands Reserve Chardonnay, 2 2007 Reserve Arabesque (blend), 2 2007 Syrah Port)
Also was recommended to go here by our Stolpman friends, the tasting room was nothing impressive, the staff was courteous but that was about it, however the wines we great! if you love the wines then you love the wines, so we joined their wine club
Purchased: 4 bottles (1 2007 Block 6 Purisima Mountain Syrah, 1 2008 Block 6 Purisima Mountain Syrah, 1 2008 Purisima Mountain Syrah, 1 2008 Barrel Select Cuvee)
Well that was my trip! More details to come!