Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Cruising Santa Ynez Valley

Karen and I had a rare opportunity to briefly cruise Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County, CA, in search of a few good wines and a few pleasant experiences. We found both!

Special thanks to Victoria at Tastes of Life, who provided an excellent list of suggested wineries and tasting rooms to visit, including Rideau, Sanford, Longoria, Foxen and the Los Olivos Tasting Room. We got to all of these!

We made a few other visits too. Standing out among these were The Los Olivos Cafe, featuring a wonderful menu and outstanding selection of wines by the glass; and Zaca Mesa Winery, which features not only an excellent tasting room and gorgeous grounds, but a unique walking trail that winds to the top of a hill adjacent to the winery. From this hill, you get an extraordinary vista over the Foxen Canyon Road winemaking area. There are even picnic tables along the trail up the hill should you decide to pick up a boxed lunch from the winery and linger for awhile.

I'll link below to posts about some of the wineries and tasting rooms whose labels we sampled. From those winery posts, you can get to the individual wine reviews and ratings.

My top-rated wines from this expedition were these, starting with most favorite:
2002 Blair Fox Cellars Syrah, Paradise Road Vineyard, Santa Barbara County CA
2005 Presidio Artistic License Estate Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County, CA
2004 Stolpman Vineyards Estate Syrah - revisited, still rated **** (4 stars) - I found it big, bright and smoky this time.
2003 Lucas & Lewellen Cote Del Sol Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Barbara County, CA
2005 Presidio Pinot Noir, Estate Bottled, Santa Barbara County, CA
2005 Longoria Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills, CA
2004 Presidio Syrah, Hallauer Vineyard, Santa Barbara County CA
2005 Jack Creek Kruse Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir, Paso Robles, CA
2004 Avila Merlot, Santa Barbara County, CA
2001 Lucas & Lewellen Cabernet Sauvignon, Valley View Vineyard, Santa Barbara County, CA

Here are my brief write-ups for some of the locations we visited and their wines:
Los Olivos Tasting Room
Lucas & Lewellen
The Los Olivos Cafe
Zaca Mesa
Solvang CA

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