Wine Tasting Journal, Santa Ynez Edition

A couple of weekends ago I went wine tasting in Santa Ynez with my boyfriend and friends and had an amazing time getting wine teeth, learning, and soaking in the stunning scenery of the Santa Ynez valley. In preparation for the trip I naturally designated myself as the wine tasting day itinerary planner despite have very limited (see: zero) experience in the area of wine tasting (well, I've tasted a few grapes but let's just say I didn't always savor the flavor in true sommelier style... hi mom). 

As a matter of research I hit the internet and found this site which has a nice map of the valley that's very helpful in deciding which vineyards to hit and in which order. I browsed through reviews and web sites and pictures and random people's comments on the matter (those are just always entertaining) and decided my list of vineyards and wineries that I wanted to visit included: Bridlewood Winery, Buttonwood Farm Winery, Gainey Vineyards, and Sunstone Winery. All of these wineries had rave reviews for both experience and wine and so I whipped up a document (color coded of course) mapping out our plan for the day and emailed it along to my cohorts.

And then, of course.... we didn't go to any of these places. So I can't quite give a review on the aforementioned wineries but you can look at the pretty pictures on their websites (linked above) and enjoy, just as I did.

Instead, my wine tasting weekend took a turn for the unique.

I had heard about Demetria Estate before from my one-of-a-kind awesome Aunt Tammy. She is the kind of woman that hangs her homemade pasta to dry on a "casual spaghetti night" and has a room-filling laugh that trumps Julia Roberts'. Aunt Tammy had gushed about the beautiful setting of this vineyard and its personal feel but once she said I needed a reservation I tuned out like a frat boy in a feminism class and figured "there's no way I'll get this group to make a reservation... this is amateur hour."

Turns out, I didn't have to... my friend's mom had stepped in (aren't moms just great for that responsible stuff?) and made us a reservation and so we ended up here:

Pulling up to the Estate was an experience in itself. After going through the gates as well as another winery, we drove up a windy road for quite awhile before reaching the beautiful tasting room at the top of one of the vineyard's hills.
The tasting room was small and ornate but what was really lovely about this place was an outdoor seating area. Under yawning oak trees was a collection of rustic wooden tables filled with couples, groups, locals and experts, all at a minimum of 20 years our senior. So despite the 100 degree heat, we sat down and enjoyed the six wine tasting outside. We also ordered an assortment of cheeses, olives, salami, prosciutto and crackers and I was mesmerized by the heavy-handed young guys running around in jeans and plaid shirts- they really kept the wine flowing.

My blogging notes were thirsty too.

Oh, the owner's dog (I am assuming this is the owner's dog because it was very skilled at table hopping) was also hanging out.

By the end of the tasting we had spent two hours at Demetria. It was definitely a leisurely stroll of an experience compared to other tasting rooms that speed you through the wines as you stand at the counter.

The Cuvee Papou and Pinot Noir were my favorites, but all of the wines were impressive and the rest of the group was very excited about the Chardonnay (not a Chardonnay chick myself). I definitely recommend allotting yourself a couple of hours here at least because of the slow-paced tasting and also because you will have to take a couple of pictures: 

After Demetria we only had time for one more tasting (a late start with a couple too many blood mary's for breakfast will do that to you) so we headed to the nearby Koehler. 

The tasting room here was more traditional and a big guy in a Hawaiian shirt led us through the wines at a fox-trot pace (it was close to closing time and I heard one of the other employees had to take off for a date she had... hope that went well for her). 

I absolutely loved the wine at Koehler. The Pinot Noir was great, the Cabernet was light and delicious and I wanted to bathe in the Sangiovese Estate.

Finally, on our way back to Santa Barbara, everyone sufficiently filled with wine and excited about their purchases (I bought a bottle of the Koehler Sangiovese- my favorite) we stopped at the most charming, rustic bar I've ever seen- Cold Springs Tavern.

With a live band playing classic rock, bikers and wine tasters and sprinklings of some "interesting" characters there, I felt like I was in a different state.

After a couple of beers (totally necessary because we just hadn't had enough wine that day) and a few of my signature little-girl twirls around the dance floor we were off. I highly recommend the Cold Springs Tavern for a night cap (or early evening cap) after a day at the vineyards. The whole place kind of feels like the banjo-playing bears on Disneyland's splash mountain ride.

Now I'm off to San Francisco for the weekend in search of the city's best blood mary and vintage shopping. Updates to come, of course.

1 comment:

  1. Your weekend of wine tasting sounds phenomenal!!! Thanks for the 411 on all the great wineries to visit in Santa Ynez..can't WAIT to plan a little getaway to this vino paradise!