Sunday, January 18, 2009

Going Sideways

Updated from our latest trip!

Since SG and I rave about Santa Barbara wines, we frequently get asked where to go. Here's a list of Santa Barbara County wineries that we are familiar with:

Los Olivos Tasting Rooms
Last Visit: Jan 09
Usually our first stop in Santa Barbara county; this time around it was our last stop. We liked their Syrahs. They vary from year to year. This last time around, none of there Syrah's were worthy of a purchase; but their Syrah-Mourvedre-Grenache blend was. I was also miffed that this time around they charged for the tasting even though I made a purchase. That, as far as I'm concerned is rude. The visit in 06 yielded a Santa Barbara Syrah that was great, but 07's release of the same wine was mediocre; whereas their Santa Ynez Syrah from the 06 visit was mediocre and 07's was good). They source all their grapes.

Last visited in 06
co-located with Carina, Tensley is the private label of the guy that is the wine maker at Carina. SG is not fond of his wine, and he is a bit pompous.

Santa Ynez Valley Tasting rooms
Last visit in 06
Great atmosphere friendly staff. Oddly they do mostly Bordeaux varietals.

Last visit in 06
Rude staff. They would not let us in with kids. Did not drink their wine. They are in the "Sideways movie"

Last visit in 07
Great Atmosphere. Poor Wine. All estate grapes, and they do not know what type of wine they want to make. (They make a little bit of every style therefore never get any good at anything) They are a Gallo property.

Solvang tasting rooms
Wandering Dog
Good Pinot. (Our HR person is the daughter of the owner) Never visited as they don't allow kids; but Allison (the aforementioned) did personally pour for me at a different event.

Buellton Tasting Rooms
Hartley Ostini
Last visit 08
This is the Hitching Post restaurant. Good steaks. Good Pinots even better Syrah. Screw cap bottles. Worth having dinner here.

Ballard Canyon Tasting rooms
Last visit 08.
This last visit te staff was not nearly as friendly. That was sad. They also will not give complementary tastings when you buy wine. This limited the amount of wine I bought from them.
Truly outstanding Pinot. The Santa Rita Hills Pinot is their best. Fantastic atmosphere. Bring a picnic. Owner is a scion of the Wriggly family (as in double-mint gum)

Foxen Canyon Tasting Rooms
Zaca Mesa
Last visited 08
The current release of the 3 barrel Syrah is truly epic. So much so that we joined the club (this wine is only available to club members)
Great Rhone style blends. Z-3 is a favorite

Last visit 07
Great atmosphere. OK Super-Tuscan blends. SGK liked their Bordeaux Varietals.

Tres Hermanas
Last visit 07
Very friendly owners. So-so Rhône and Burgundy varietals, but they do have an Interesting Cal-Ital (the Refosco). The owners are predominately horse people, but their daughter's beau is a wine guy from Paso Robles and convinced them that in their location they should have a winery. Worth the visit, just for the coin-operated pony ride alone.

Santa Rita Hills Tasting Rooms
Last Visit 09
They do not allow kids, so they lost out on our purchases.

Last Visit 09
Melville shares a driveway with Babcock, and benefited from Babcocks refusal to allow our kids inside. They have a pretentious tasting room, and will not refund the tasting fee when you buy wine. Their packaging is great. Big, Heavy bottles sealed with wax. We would have bought more, but wanted to make our displeasure at the non-refundable tasting fee known.