Thursday, August 27, 2015

Santa Ynez Valley

A while back I shared with you about our trip to Santa Barbara but am just now getting around to sharing our experience in the Santa Ynez Valley.  After spending a few days at the lovely Bacara Resort and Spa in Santa Barbara, we wandered up to the Santa Ynez Valley to explore that area.  Basically our trip can be summed up with 2 words: wine & food!

Our first day there, we took a wine tasting tour with Stagecoach Wine Tours (highly recommend!).  Our guide, Kurt, was very knowledgable and took us to 4 different wineries.  We were so busy enjoying the beautiful scenery and the enjoying the wonderful wines, that I didn't take any pictures!

Andrew Murray Vineyards

Andrew Murray was our first stop of the day and was a fun place to get started.  We enjoyed the very modern tasting room at the vineyard.

photo from Andrew Murray

Buttonwood Farm

Buttonwood was a complete contrast to Andrew Murray.  It is a true working farm and the tasting room atmosphere was more homey and felt like you were in a farmhouse.  We were able to meet the winemaker, Karen, and she autographed a bottle of wine for us!  A picnic lunch was served on the grounds along with a bottle of their delish sauvignon blanc.  It was a memorable meal!

photo from Buttonwood

Santa Ynez Wine Club

Next, we were taken to the Santa Ynez Wine Club, where we enjoyed a tasting by the pond.  It was an intimate setting, as we were the only group there.  The view was gorgeous and the wines were great!

photo from Santa Ynez Wine Club

Bella Cavalli Farms and Vineyard

Bella Cavalli was probably my favorite tasting of the day.  Of course, the wines were great, but the setting was incredible.  A true working horse farm, we enjoyed the views of beautiful horses (and even petted a few), stables and the friendly company of the owner, who sat with our group for a long time discussing everything under the sun.

photo from Bella Cavalli Farms and Vineyard

On our second day in the Santa Ynez Valley, we decided to visit the little towns of Solvang and Los Olivos.   We passed through these towns on our wine tour and both peaked our interest, so we went back to explore.

Solvang is a Danish community in the middle of southern California.  We started our day with a delicious breakfast at Paula's Pancake House, which several people had recommended.  Yum! 

photo from Paula's Pancake House
After breakfast, we walked through the town exploring the quaint shops that lined the street.  We kicked ourselves later that we didn't buy pastries to enjoy later from one of the several Danish Pastry shops.

photo from
Next, we headed over to Los Olivos.  It is a very small town, but the downtown is packed with cute shops and LOTS of different tasting rooms.

photo from

photo from
This was one of our favorite tastings of the day - Carhartt Winery.  It has a teeny-tiny tasting room with a relaxing courtyard in the back, which was full of shade.  It was HOT that day, and the shade came as a welcome relief!

photo from trip advisor

After visiting a few more tasting rooms, we enjoyed lunch at Sides Hardware.  It was an old hardware store turned into a restaurant.  The food was delicious!  

photo from daytripsocal

Our time in Los Olivos was wrapped up with a visit to the Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company taproom.  Hubby enjoyed a new favorite beer- Davy Brown Ale.

After a day full of food and wine (and a little beer), we Uber'ed our way back to our hotel to call it an early night.  Our 4:00 am wake-up call to catch our plane back home came early!

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley!  We found some great new wines to enjoy and hope to make it back some day soon!

Have a great day!

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