Santa Barbara, California,USA
guide of Wine'edventures, (805) 882-0088, pulled up to the front of the
Hotel Santa Barbara in his Merlot-colored van promptly at 9:30 a.m., as planned,
and we began a day of wine education and tasting, beautiful scenery, tasty
lunch and meeting other wine-loving tourists.
As we picked up seven other guests from the Fess
Parker hotel, and the trolley stop at the wharf, and headed over San Marcos
Pass on Hwy. 154 to the Santa Ynez Valley, Lloyd told us about the Santa
Barbara County wine history and reputation as well as the history of Santa
Barbara and the geographical highlights we passed. As it turned out
we were a diverse group from the states of Maryland, North Dakota, Minnesota,
and the counties of Santa Barbara and Orange in California.
Our first winery would be Sunstone, but before
arriving there, Lloyd, taught the novices among us how to taste wine and
how to pace ourselves through the 30 some different tastings we would enjoy
this day. We were each given a souvenir 19 oz. wine glass to use for
tasting throught the day. At Sunstone Vineyards and Winery, 125 Refugio
Road, Santa Ynez, CA, (800) 313 WINE, the owner's daughter, Ashley, lead
us through the tasting followed by Alan giving us a tour of the caves where
oak barrels of wine are stored, and we saw the Wine Library. The grounds
were very photogenic, looking like Spanish Adobe buildings, built recently
and designed to look very old and picturesque.
Eros, Goddess of Love, wine. Notice the lips in the artwork on
Second winery was Koehler Winery. A mobile
bottling plant was in operation with the manager operating a forklift moving
out empty bottle cases and moving in freshly filled bottles in cases.
As we tasted, Lloyd made a run to the nearby Los Olivos Grocery for beef,
turkey, or vegetation sandwich, chips, small pasta and green salad, a bottle
of water, and a cookie, which we enjoyed on picnic tables in the lovely pastoral
setting next to the tasting room.
After lunch we went to Los Olivos, originally a stagecoach
stop and now home of 12 art galleries, to Arthur Earl's Winery, the first
names of the owners. The only Arthur Earl wine sold is through their
tasting rooms and wine club. Incidentally, at each winery you can
join their wine club at no cost and receive substantial discounts on wine
and items in their shops. They will send you periodical wines from their
selections as well.
We had time to quickly visit some shops before reboarding
the bus for Solvang. The Lucas and Lewellen tasting room in Solvang
welcomed us and ushered us to the section of the tasting bar with stools,
a welcome change, and Lewis Lucas directed Tommy in providing us with tastes
and information about the wine business in general and specifically the
wine business in the Santa Ynez Valley. With the dessert wine, Lloyd
provided each of us with a chocolate brownie to enjoy.
Our excellent day of wine tasting in this beautiful,
sunny, rural Santa Ynez Valley with temperatures in the high 70s, wound
down as Lloyd chauffeured us back over San Marcos Pass with instrumental
music serenading us on the speaker system in the van, and the view from
above Santa Barbara causing us all to point out the channel and islands
We rested at the hotel until about 6:30 pm when we
returned to the train station, and up walked our Fullerton Pastor, Don
Roe, who regularly takes the Surfliner from Fullerton to Santa Barbara
as relaxation and for work. I checked our biggest luggage piece through
to Fullerton, and boarded the Pacific Surfliner at 7 pm. The ride
through the night was an easy transition back to reality in Orange County
for us. I used my computer and the electrical outlet, at a table on
the lower level of the Business Class car, to continue this report while
enjoying a complimentry snack box of tortilla chips and salsa, cheese and
crackers, cookies, a mint, and single-serving bottle of wine or a can of
soft drink from the cafe car as we traveled. There were pastries,
coffee, and apple juice available in our car as well.
Upon our arrival back in Fullerton, Pastor Don mentioned
that he planned to change his travel/work day between Fullerton and Santa
Barbara to Wednesday from Friday, because of the lack of crowds on the train
on this day.
Give Santa Barbara Car Free a chance to show you
around in this beautiful Mediterranean-like seaside community without the
stress of driving. I guarantee it will renew your appreciation for
a modern train system, a beautiful hotel, fine food and wine, and you too
will become an Ambassador for carefree, Santa Barbara Car Free.