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:
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.
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.