Saturday, August 25, 2012


Tue, Aug 21 - It's Tuesday and that means the Santa Barbara Farmers' Market downtown this afternoon. We have been very pleased with our purchases at the Market and decided to go again this afternoon (well, I decided we would go)! The Market does not open until 4 o'clock, so we drove down early enough to do something else before the Market.

Today, I wanted to do a little Wine Tasting! There are so many Vineyards and Wineries in Santa Barbara and the surrounding area that you can't begin to count them all!! How to choose just one??!! I decided we would go to the Santa Barbara Winery downtown because it had some interesting history. Santa Barbara Winery was the first commercial winery to open in Santa Barbara County post-prohibition, in 1962. Not only that, their weekday Wine Tastings were only $5/pp, PLUS we could keep the glasses!!

The first wine we tasted was 2010 Riesling which I don't usually care for because it's too sweet. This was dry and perfect. At first I thought it was a rip-off because our server only gave us less than a jigger of wine in the bottom of our rather large wine glass! But after tasting seven wines, I discovered that amount was quite enough!!

I loved the barrels stacked in the tasting room!

Our server, Jamie, served us the six wines on the wine list: Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo (using grapes from Italy), and Grenache. Ken happened to mention that he liked a Rose', so Jamie added a tasting of their Rose' of Syrah 2011. We didn't find a wine we didn't like!!

Jamie was very knowledgeable and always wore a big smile!

After a delightful time tasting wine at Santa Barbara Winery, we went shopping at the Farmer's Market and Von's, and the Gas Station!!

As we were driving into Rancho Oso, we caught a glimpse of a nice little family!! These are about the first deer we have seen since arriving! And I was thrilled!!

Later, after washing our new wine glasses and hanging them in our wine rack, I told Ken we would have to go again next Tuesday so we could have a set of four Santa Barbara Winery wine glasses!!


 Thur, Aug 23 - You may be familiar with the 2004 movie SIDEWAYS in which Miles, a failed writer, and former hot actor, Jack, take a long weekend drive together in California's wine country.  The movie shows the two of them at various vineyards and wineries and other locations in the Santa Ynez Valley, only twenty miles from our TT Rancho Oso campground!

There are about a million vineyards, wineries, and wine tasting rooms in the area and of course I had been wanting to do some wine tasting.  So how do you choose??!!  While the movie SIDEWAYS does not mean anything special to us, I decided it might be fun to spend a day visiting the locations in the movie.  I would like to share our experience with you in case you are in the area sometime.

First of all, when we were in Santa Barbara, we stopped at the Visitor's Center and picked up some of their maps and fliers which not only showed great directions, they also contained coupons for 2-for-1 wine tasting at various wineries.  Next, I went on line and Googled "Locations visited in the movie Sideways".  I came upon a wonderful website with a detailed map of the Santa Ynez Valley, the places visited by Miles and Jack, plus little comments about what they did at each location!  A lot of this posting is based on that website:  Perhaps it will be helpful to you if you are in the area.

With coupons in hand, I selected a few of the places for us to visit.  Our first stop at about 11 a.m. was at the KALYRA Winery
in Santa Ynez.

The vineyard in front of Kalyra Winery.


 Ken entering the tasting room at Kalyra Winery.


 I really thought it was a little too early to start tasting, but we had the 2-for-1 coupon so the two us could taste for $10 and I noticed they had eight wines on their tasting list!  So, why not.  I am really glad we did because this place had all sorts of SIDEWAYS memorabilia.

We met another couple following the Sideways Trail.  We compared notes.  We took their pictures; they took ours.

Ken and I enjoying our wine tasting at Kalyra.

 While tasting wine, Miles and Jack met Stephanie, a flirtatious wine pourer who becomes the object of Jack's affection.  Stephanie was our wine pourer too, but she said she was not the one in the movie!

Ken liked this travel trailer parked in Kalyra parking lot!

When we left the tasting at Kalyra , I was pretty much SIDEWAYS myself!!  HA HA

There were a number of locations in Los Olivos so we went there next.  There was wine tasting in every house, on every corner. This beautiful old house is now Andrew Murray Vineyards Tasting Room.  Miles and Jack drove through wine country to the Andrew Murray Vineyards.
 They probably came here, too.

 The couple we met at Kalyra said they had eaten dinner at Los Olivos Cafe and Wine Merchant (below).  Miles and Jack and Stephanie and her girl friend eat here and enjoyed exquisite bottles of wine.  We would have eaten here, too, but it was toooo expensive, and a little too early!

Our next destination was Fess Parker Winery in Frass Canyon.  This was our furthest point to drive, about 15 minutes away.  We have been here before years ago, but since it was on the "Trail", Ken was all too happy to drive us there.

 Vineyards on the way to the house.  Each row of vines had a pink rosebush at the beginning of the row.

 Beautiful stone front porch.

 Fess Parker himself; and Fess Parker as Daniel Boone!

  A central fireplace in the tasting room.  I believe the tasting room was actually Fess Parker's house when he was alive

 The tasting bar.  We did not do a tasting here but found out their tasting fee is $12 for seven tastings.  I mentioned I had a 2-for-1 coupon.  The server said the fee would then be $6/pp.  I mentioned my coupon stated "With the purchase of wine."  He did not know anything about that and said he would accept the coupon without a purchase.

The house and grounds. If I were to plan a picnic during our tour, this is where I would have it.  It is beautiful!

 At a large wine tasting event here, Miles phones his agent and finds out his book will not be published.  He proceeded to get drunk on wine.

This sign was at the exit of Fess Parker Winery.  It shows all the vineyards and wineries on Foxen Canyon Road alone.  We wanted to go to Firestone next.  (I could not get the picture to transfer upright.)

Entrance to Firestone Vineyard.

Grapes on the vine as we drove up to Firestone.  Some grapes had already been harvested; some had not.  We were told that the grapes are tasted and when the sugar content is just right, it is time to harvest.  I of course wanted to stomp the grapes!!

Ken in the entrance way to Firestone tasting room and the tasting room on the right.

Miles and Jack and the girls sneak out of a wine lecture to share a romantic walk through the Barrel Room.

Firestone tasting bar.  I spoke with the young fellow to the right.  Found out they have two flights of tastings.  Reserve Flight is $15.  Featured Flight is $10.  Five tastings each.  We had a 2-for-1 coupon but were not ready for another tasting just yet.  The young man said he liked my locket -- my Pickleball paddle.  Had he heard of it?  He was all excited.  "That's the one with the hard ball and you hit it!!"

By this time we were starved!!  Ken wanted Carl's Jr., but I wanted to eat at a place where Miles and Jack had eaten.  We drove back to Solvang to the Solvang Restaurant. Miles and Jack eat breakfast here.  We had lunch!

Beams across the ceiling in the restaurant had Danish phrases.

We each had the Reuben Sandwich!  It was wonderful!!

 Just down the street was the Mission Santa Ynez.  Miles and Jack and the girls toured the church.  We did not go inside.

A. J. Spurs in Buellton.  Miles and Jack meet a waitress named Carrie who later Jack gets tangled up with.

The Hitching Post in Buellton.  We wanted to stop but it does no open until 4 p.m.  Miles and Jack share a bottle of Highliner at the bar and talk to Maya the waitress.  Later Miles returns on his own.

By now it is after 3 o'clock and we had a couple more wineries to visit!  Sanford Winery in Buellton seemed to be the most talked about winery in connection with the movie Sideways.  So I felt this was very important!!  But, there is a story here.

Alma Rosa Winery and Vineyard is now located where Sanford Winery was when the movie was made..  The original owner of Sanford Winery, Richard Sanford, went into partnership with someone from the North and they opened a different Sanford Winery further west on Santa Rosa Road.  The partners had a parting of the ways and Mr. Sanford bought back the original vineyards and reopened the winery.  But, in the dissolved partnership he had lost the Sanford name and label.  Therefore the original Sanford Winery is now called Alma Rosa Winery.  (The second Sanford Winery has since closed down.  There is no Sanford Winery.)

 In all the reviews I read on line, everyone mentioned the long, beautiful drive to the tasting room.   The vineyard along the dusty road.

All of the reviews mentioned the quaint little shack, a unique tasting room.

Miles teaches Jack the basics of wine tasting.  Chris starts them off with the Vin Gris.

Alma Rosa also has two flights of tastings.  The Pinot Noir Flight for $15 for five tastings.  The  Varietal Flight for $10 for five tastings.  No coupon!

The tasting bar.  All the reviews also mention Chris from the movie still being there.  This group was posing for a picture of their group.  I decided I'd take their picture, too.  I forgot to ask about Chris, but I believe he is the one in the center.

Most reviews complained about the price of the tastings at Alma Rosa, especially since LaFond just across the road only charges $5.  We decided we would have our last tasting at LaFond.

A field of marigold on Santa Rosa Road.

The entrance to LaFond Winery and Vineyards.

LaFond tasting room.  I thought this was neat.  Ken is approaching the building and he is reflected coming out of the door!

This is Kathleen, our server.  She was very knowledgeable and was the one who explained the Sanford Winery story to us.  She said LaFond Winery was not in the Sideways movie, but the author of the book came by and enjoyed their wine.  Another interesting thing was that Pierre LaFord also owns Santa Barbara Winery that we had visited on Tuesday.  I said I thought so.  Their wine glasses looked the same.

Miles and Jack were NOT here, but here we are enjoying our LaFond wine tasting at only $5/pp with our 2-for-1 coupon.  Six tastings!!  HA HA  And we kept the glasses!!

 Well, we certainly did enjoy our day on the Sideways Trail.  There were a lot more places that Miles and Jack visited, but we had had quite enough.  And, I think our choices were excellent!!!