Destination: Los Olivos
Enjoy a day trip to the Santa Ynez Valley in beautiful Santa Barbara County
Kick back and relax, while tasting the wines this charming area has to offer. An easy day trip from the greater Los Angeles area heading north, or from the Central Coast (Paso Robles/San Luis Obispo) heading south, to Los Olivos offers a perfect day-cation! With more than 100 wineries/tasting rooms in the area, you just may want to plan to stay for a few days, as lodging is plentiful.
Explore the wine town of Los Olivos, with close to 30 tasting rooms, all within walking distance. Enjoy tasting what the Santa Barbara wine region offers. Park your car, put your walking shoes on and get ready to explore and enjoy many Los Olivos’s tasting rooms, such as:
Larner Vineyard and Winery, located on the corner of Grand Ave. and Alamo Pintado Ave, in an old historic building, fronted by an early 20th century gas pump. The smallest tasting room you may ever visit, Larner delivers wine tasting in a big way with estate grown wines. Experience the terroir driven wines of Michael Larner as you sit and sip outside, people watching. Specializing in Syrah, Michael Larner is intent in bringing out the nuances of the terroir from these single varietals and blends. Also, if available, try Michael’s homage to Italy, Malvasia Bianca. This delicious white wine is a definite “go-to,” especially on a warm day or summer’s eve.
Following your Larner tasting, if it’s lunch time, grab a specialty sandwich next door at Panino or dine down the street at Los Olivos Wine Merchant and Café.
Strolling around town, discover and enjoy some of the many tasting rooms, this small town has to offer, such as: Tercero Wines where you may taste Larry Schaffer’s recently released Malvasia Bianca, or Bien Nacido & Solomon Hills which offer tastings from their two highly acclaimed vineyards, Dragonette Cellars, and so many others awaiting your discovery.
Not too far from the tasting rooms in Los Olivos, there are inviting vineyards to visit, all within an easy, short drive from town. Visiting these vineyards, you will get a closer look at the area, and terroir, while learning more of the history of the Santa Barbara Wine Country.
Zaca Mesa Winery is one of the iconic, early pioneers of the area. In 1973, it was only the third bonded winery in Santa Barbara County. Plantings at the time were mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Riesling. It took a few decades to realize that the micro-climate was best suited to Rhône varieties. Ripping out their vines and replanting, since 1997, Zaca Mesa has focused exclusively on producing exceptional Rhône wines. Among these is the iconic Black Bear Block Syrah. Planted in 1978, this is the oldest block of Syrah in Santa Barbara County.
Zaca Mesa has a history of quality, experimentation, and a “thinking outside the box” mentality. Their early winemakers included pioneers that set the standard for Zaca Mesa and Santa Barbara, such as Ken Brown (Zaca Mesa’s first winemaker), Jim Clendenon, and Bob Lindquist. Today, Kristin Bryden leads the winemaking team, always looking for new methods to highlight the fruit and terroir.
Underlying this philosophy, is Zaca Mesa’s newly introduced TREAD label. TREAD focuses on crafting ultra-premium, site-driven Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, dedicated to displaying the diversity of Santa Barbara County.
Zaca Mesa is a destination winery, where you will learn and taste the history of the Santa Barbara AVA.
And, try to plan to attend Zaca Mesa’s Rock ‘N Roll BBQ Concert November 11th. Enjoy an evening of music, food, dancing, and wine…with Zaca Mesa hospitality!
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE
There are dozens of wonderful wineries spread out along pastoral country roads in the Santa Ynez Valley, including: Andrew Murray, Lincourt Vineyards, and Fess Parker, just to name a few! Each has its special history, making this one of the most enjoyable and tasty wine areas of California.
Whether it’s a day or multi-day trip, make exploring this area a top choice for your next California wine country adventure. And should you decide to stay longer than a day, the quaint towns of Solvang, Santa Ynez, Ballard, and Buellton are close by, offering an array of choices for wining, dining, lodging, and playing.
Don Sonderling is a freelance writer covering California’s Wine Country lifestyle and culture, from the Central Coast up through the Napa Valley and Sonoma. He may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. IG: @dsonderling