Santa Ynez Valley and the Foxen Canyon Trail

Trip Start Dec 30, 2012
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Trip End Jun 27, 2013


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Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, January 24, 2013

It was a rainy day in Santa Barbara, but that didn't stop us. It was time to explore the nearby winelands. Santa Ynez, Solvang, Los Olivos and Los Alamos are just northwest of Santa Barabara, and you can drive through the mountains of the Los Padres National Forest to get there.

First stop: Bridlewood Estate Winery in Santa Ynez. On a rainy weekday you won't find many people out tasting wines, which means we had the tasting room mostly to ourselves. Our host for the tasting poured us our whites first. One of the first whites on the list was a Viognier. This grape came to California in the 1980's, and now the vines have reached a wonderful maturity across the Central Coast. Several wineries had a Viognier to share in their tasting room.

Bridlewood speciality, however, is Syrah. They promised one Syrah with the essance of blueberry, another with pomegranate, and those tastes were definitely there. I was impressed, these were unlike any of the Syrahs I've had in the past. Our host entertained us with two wines outside of the tasting list: a desert wine and Bridlewood's limited edition 2007 English Pleasure Syrah.

At the recommendation of our Bridlewood host we stopped in Los Olivos for lunch. A few facts about Los Olivos:
Population: 1,100+
Hotels: 1
Restaurants: 6
Art Galleries: 7
Tasting Rooms, Wineries and Vineyards: 27
I think you get the idea... There is one wine venue for every 40 people. The town has just a few streets, with most of the goings on concentrated on Grand Avenue. It was the perfect place to stop for food between vineyards.

From there we ventured to Firestone vineyard for another tasting. Around this time we were curious about tasting etiquette. The question comes up, do you spit or swallow when tasting wine? When in doubt, google. And so we did. The responses we found varied, but most seemed to agree that if you're tasting just a few wines, then you can drink the wine. Besides, something about spitting out wine just feels wrong.

Our last tasting brought us north to Curtis Vineyards. Our host was super friendly here. We tasted two wines that were new to me, a white, Roussane and a red, Mourvédre.

Today left me with a whole new appreciation for wine and the people who make it. On our way back we looped around Foxen Canyon Road back to 101, which allowed us a chance to see wide open fields full of grape vines.
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