When Angelenos hear wine country, they think Napa Valley. Well Napa Valley, move over! Santa Barbara is beautiful, closer and full of vineyards and wineries that will have you sipping all day. When my parents came out for their visit from the East coast, we took a day and went to some of the best wine tastings this state has to offer. On your next trip to Santa Barbara be sure to get to this beautiful and tasty spots:
Brander Vineyard (2401 Refugio Rd., Los Olivos, 93441; 800.970.9979) is one of the first six wineries in Santa Barbara and one of the only wineries with the original owner still creating wines. It’s a rustic, open, winery with breathtaking views of the grape fields. This winery is known for their varieties of Sauvignon Blanc wines, but they also produce small quantities of hand-crafted Bordeaux-style red wines. We started with their signature Sauvignon Blanc and it did not disappoint. We learned that wines with a twist off were meant to be finished in that sitting (the way my family works) and corked ones can stay a little longer. Our favorites were 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Ynez Valley, which is their signature and 2010 Cuvée Nicolas which was named after the owner’s son and was very refreshing.
Curtis Winery (5249 Foxen Canyon Rd., Los Olivos, 93441; 805.686.8999) was our next stop and here they specialize Rhône-style wines. Rhône is a grape from France’s Rhône Valley and thrives in California. Ernst Storm, who is a winemaker with a label titled Storm, gave us a tour around the property. We started with the whites and were lucky enough to taste right from the steel barrels, something I have never done. We then tasted a rosé, which is only 15% red (I didn’t know that). We then headed to the reds, which blew our minds. We tasted straight from the barrels and they were spectacular. Our favs were The Curtis 2007 Reserve and Storm Pinot Noir. You can purchase Curtis Wines on their site and Storm wines here. And remember, as Ernst says, “Eating is cheating when you’re drinking.”
The Hitching Post (406 East Highway 246, Buellton, 93427; 805.688.0676) was our last stop and the staple of Santa Barbara wines. Known for being the muse behind the film, Sideways, most Angelenos know about this spot. We sat down and had a delicious dinner with Gray, Frank Ostini’s friend and the other original wine maker. It was like sitting down with family. We instantly felt comfortable and discussed more about our families than the wines. We felt so welcome. We dined on steamed mussels and grilled artichokes and had entrees of duck and steak that melted in our mouths. It was a great way to end the day. I highly recommend ending your Santa Barbara trip here too!