Take me to the Central Coast...again and again

I found myself in California on business in early February. How I wish it were for wine business!  I took a small day trip from Santa Monica to the Santa Barbara region located approximately 2 hours away. If you've ever seen the movie Sideways, then you've had a nice introduction to the area since the movie was filmed there.  This being my third time in Santa Barbara County, I wanted to explore some new places but of course, making some familiar stops along the way...

Lake Cachuma 
Gorgeous isn't it? This is Lake Cachuma. The picture was taken along the slower, scenic 154 highway entering the Santa Ynez Valley. You can also take the 101 that brings you more into the heart of the region. There are some cute towns nestled around the region. The Danish village of Solvang is a must!

Santa Barbara County is one of the coolest wine growing regions in California because of the fog and ocean breezes that flow into the valleys. The growing season is long, so the grapes have a long hang time on the vine, allowing the flavours to develop and gain complexity. There are five wine appellations in Santa Barbara County.  The major ones are Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, and Santa Rita Hills, with Los Alamos Valley and Happy Canyon being the lesser known appellations.

http://www.sbcountywines.com/

Even though this region is known for fantastic Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah, you will find many delicious wines made from other varieties.

Some other resources on the region:
http://www.staritahills.com/

Some video footage of the day:



Byron
The first stop of the day was in Los Olivos. I call this the Town of Tasting Rooms (even though most of the towns in the area have many tasting rooms). It's also the town where one of the most famous scenes from the movie Sideways takes place. The famous "I'm not drinking any &*!^ merlot". It was filmed in the Los Olivos Cafe which is located in the heart of the town. It's convenient to taste wines here in the town if you can't make it out to the wineries. My main purpose this day was to visit the tasting room of Byron. The winery doesn't have a tasting room so you need to come to the town to taste the wines. I purchased a bottle of their Pinot Noir.


This is a neat site if you want to find out more about the locations filmed in the movie Sideways: http://www.movie-locations.com/movies/s/sideways.html

I'm sure that the people in the area are tired of hearing about this movie. But, it's just one of those things. It really helped put the region on the map.  I didn't make it to Solvang on this trip. I did visit it a few months ago and it really is a fun little tourist trap. It's the cutest town.

Foxen "wine shack"
Back to the wine shack! I always love coming back here. Foxen has two locations: Foxen 7200 (the 7200 is just the address of the shack) and then a new facility just up the road. The shack is where you can taste their Bordeaux and Cal-Ital style wines (Italian varieties with a California flair). The newer facility is where you can try their  Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs,  and Rhone-Style wines.  Speaking of the movie Sideways, this is where they filmed the scene of Jack and Miles helping themselves to full glasses during a wine tasting at the Foxen 7200 location.

http://www.foxenvineyard.com/

Dierberg

Next stop, Dierberg.  This winery was the highlight of my day. Not only because it was a new discovery, but also because everything I tasted, I loved. I took a chance and blindly tried something new!  If in the area, make sure to drive along Santa Rita Road. It's the scenic route in Santa Rita Hills, much like Foxen Canyon road between the Santa Ynez and Santa Maria regions. I visted three wineries in the area. They were: Dierberg, Melville and Alma Rosa. Out of the three, Dierberg was my favourite. I bought a bottle of their 2007 Vineyard Chardonnay.


Wine lovers at Alma Rosa
 
Other wineries in Santa Rita Hills:
Tasted some nice Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah.

Met some wine-loving, fun people at this winery and had some laughs. Sampled Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay.

Along Foxen Canyon Rd.
This is a typical view when driving along Foxen Canyon Road. I wish the camera could have actually captured the beauty of the surroundings. Sure this picture is nice but I can't describe how amazing the scenery is in person. Rolling hills, funny looking trees, cattle and horses grazing...the mountains in the background. I love this area because it's so rustic.

I could go back to the Central Coast again and again...
Maybe on my next trip to California, I'll do the Paso Robles region - Zinfandel country!