Facebook Page
Sustainable Vine Wine Tours, Santa Barbara County

What's New with Santa Barbara Car Free

Sustainable Vine Wine Tours, Santa Barbara County

Photo:  Demetria Vineyard and Winery

October 19 - 21, 2009

Carl Morrison, 

(Click any photo below for a double-sized copy; Click BACK in your browser to return to this page.)

On Tuesday, our second day in Santa Barbara, we met Bryan Hope in the lobby of the Fess Parker Doubletree Resort at 9:45.  Bryan is the owner of Sustainable Vine Wine Tours and invited us aboard his bio-diesel Mercedes van for a tour of organic/bio-dynamic wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley.  Our itinerary included a gourmet lunch in Santa Ynez Valley wine country.  Bryan's tours are for four or more people at $125 per person, including pick up, drop off, lunch and tasting fees.  He visits three organic vineyards with wineries from vintners such as Alma Rosa, Ampelos, Beckmen, Demetria, Sunstone, and Presidio.

The Lunch Menu at New Frontiers Natural Marketplace:

NOTE: Lunch orders must be received 24 hours prior to tour. Email menu choices to:


All sandwiches are served on your choice of Whole Wheat, Rye, Sprouted, Baguette or Sourdough Bread. Served with tortilla chips and salsa.

#1. Avocado Delight
Avocado, lettuce, tomato, sprouts, carrots, cucumbers, cheddar cheese, mayo, and Spike seasoning.

#2. California Foccacia
Fresh baked foccacia, olive tapenade, avocado, roasted red pepper, sprouts, cucumber, feta, tomato.
#3. Turkey Galore
Natural roasted turkey, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, sprouts, cucumber, carrots, onion, mustard, mayo.

#4. Blackened Chicken
On your choice of foccacia or sprouted bun, lettuce, tomato, sprouts, carrots, cranberries, served with pesto mayo, barbecue sauce, or Monterey Ortega.

#5. Blackened Salmon
Blackened salmon fillet with mango chutney, lettuce, tomato, sprouts, carrots, cucumbers.

All salads served with your choice of Ranch, Balsamic Vinaigrette, Poppyseed, Creamy Caesar, Lemon Herb, Asian, or Greek dressing.

#6. Garden Salad
Mixed greens, carrots, cucumber, tomato, red cabbage, jicama, onions, sprouts.

#7. Caesar Salad
Romaine lettuce, croutons, red onion, tomato, Parmesan cheese, Caesar dressing.

* Our lunches are made to order from New Frontiers Natural Marketplace. New Frontiers uses only the freshest ingredients, containing no preservatives, additives, or artificial ingredients. They use organically grown fruits, vegetables, beans and grains whenever available. Their chicken, turkey, and meat is naturally raised without growth hormones or antibiotics administered.


First,  Bryan drove us west on Hwy. 101 about 45 miles toward Buellton.  During the drive, Bryan related so much information about organically grown grapes and biodynamic vineyards that I felt the tour could end before the first stop and I would have had the value in the trip in new information.  Byran explained that the Santa Barbara coast and mountains face south, not west, making a unique agricultural area in the Santa Ynez Valley that has a maximum temperature of 75 degrees in summer.  Santa Barbara is on the same latitude as northern Morocco.  Napa is warmer than Santa Barbara.  Temperatures rise one degree for every mile you move away from the ocean.  Richard Sanford calculated that the Buellton and Lompoc, California, climate is the closest to Burgundy, France. 

I asked Bryan if all grapes were picked by hand, as I had seen on a recent trip to Oregon vineyards.  He said some wineries, like Charles Shaw (two-buck Chuck) use machines to violently shake the grapes off the vines, (along with leaves, twigs, nests, birds, etc.)  They also  allow all fruit on the vines to mature, being more interested in quantity than quality.  (You will see photos below of this type of large production vines after our second vineyard we visited on this day.)

We turned onto Santa Rosa Road, off  Hwy. 101, to 7250 and Alma Rosa Winery and Vineyards.   On the way from Santa Barbara, Bryan explained that Thekia & Richard Sanford started the Sta. Rita Hills vineyards in 1970.  They are a CCOF Certified Organic Vineyard.  They grow Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay & Pinot Noir.  Their phone:  805-688-9090  website:

After tasting, we purchased a bottle of Alma Rosa, La Encantada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills, 2007 Pinot Gris.  Click here for Tasting Notes.  Click here for Label.  Bryan related on our way to Alma Rosa that there is a current discussion going on concerning, To Cork or Not To Cork.  My purchase has a screw top.

Sustainable Vine Wine Tours by Bryan Hope.


Alma Rosa

Bryan gives Sue a taste of mature grapes, where we stopped just inside their vineyard.

Bryan searched this picked block, trimmed in California Sprawl style, for some grapes to test for sugar content.
This small cluster was the only grapes I could find in this picked block to photograph.

October is a good time to find colorful grape leaves.
There were many photographic opportunities in the Sta. Rosa Hills.
Organic vineyards use owls at night and hawks during the day to control birds in the vineyards.

Brian showed Sue an instrument for measuring the sugar content of these Pinot Noir grapes in the field.  Only 2 - 3 tons of fruit per acre produces the best quality wine. 
A cover crop is planted below the vines after harvest to be plowed under to return the nitrogen to the ground.
We drove on into the property to the picturesque Tasting Room, a former milking barn.  This was  the first stop Miles and Jack made in the movie "Sideways" as well.

There was a prickly pear cactus higher than the roof line on the side of the tasting room.

The wine staff said they pour high end wines on weekdays for the more serious tasters who are out during the week as opposed to the weekend tasters.


The couple above were wine tasting at Alma Rosa as well.  They were following a booklet:  "Wineries of Santa Barbara County" (above).  The booklet lists 108 wineries,  28 vineyards, 18 Lodgings, 10 Restaurants, and more in the area.  My suggestion, your first time here, take a tour with Brian Hope to learn your way around!

"Wineries of Santa Barbara County"

You can see this booklet online and order one by mail ahead of your visit at:
Some graphics from the booklet:

  Rita Hills.

A fourth AVA had just been identified about the time of our visit :

October 8, 2009 : TTB Announces Establishment of Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara Viticultural Area

Washington, D.C. — The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) published a final rule in the Federal Register establishing the 23,941–acre “Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara” American viticultural area in Santa Barbara County, California. This viticultural area lies within the larger Santa Ynez Valley viticultural area and the multicounty Central Coast viticultural area. TTB designates viticultural areas to allow vintners to better describe the origin of their wines and to allow consumers to better identify wines they may purchase.

This final rule becomes effective November 9, 2009.

Alma Rosa Winery is in the Sta. Rita Hills:


Alma Rosa is in the lower central part of the map above.  Hwy. 101 is the road that comes in from the bottom right and goes north through Buellton.

As we drove from Alma Rosa, Bryan stopped for me to take some more photos

IMG_3793.jpg IMG_3804.jpg
Bryan "Spiderman" Hope stopped to pet the first of six tarantulas he would see on the road while taking us on our wine tasting tour.



Next stop was a California Cuisine lunch with a Mediterranean flair at

The Los Olivos Wine Merchant Cafe

with Laura Kath, President, Mariah Marketing in Los Alamos.

Downtown Los Olivos was just like we remembered it.  The intersection made a cameo appearance in "Sideways."

Sue and Laura at the Los Olivos Cafe, right.
Laura took a photo of us at the spot where the Sideways couples had dinner in the movie.
I couldn't believe the large selection of wines--over 500 local and international vintages.

The Garden Room offers a private dining facility for up to 32 guests.

Bryan, Laura, and Sue at our special lunch.

Squash Blossom appetizer.
Baked Brie.

Sam Marmorstein, Owner of the Wine Merchant Cafe and Bernat Wines, joined us at dessert.
White chocolate cheesecake,  Flourless Chocolate Cake, and Creme brulee,
Across the street is the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn and Spa

After Lunch, Laura bid us Goodbye and we were off in the Mercedes van to Demetria Estate. 

Demetria Estate Vineyard

Photo from the Tasting Patio at Demetria Estate Vineyard.

Following our gourmet lunch, we drove north of Los Olivos, past beautiful vineyards, to Demetria Estate Vineyard.

The Demetria Estate Vineyard is located above Foxen Canyon in the Santa Ynez Valley AVA. The property consists of 213 acres of rolling hills with 38 high elevation hillside acres currently under vine. Planted in phases from 1990 to 2000 exclusively to Rhone varietals, the vineyard was formerly owned by the Murray family and supplied grapes to Andrew Murray Vineyards. Red varietals include syrah, grenache, and mourvedre, and white varietals include viognier, marsanne, roussanne, and grenache blanc. The estate has been farmed Biodynamically since our purchase in 2005.

Biodynamic farming is based on the philosophy that our entire property is a living organism. We use no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers (much like organic farming), and, in addition, we farm by the phases of the planets and the moon and treat our vineyards with various preparations to promote health and vitality in the soil, plants, and animals.

Biodynamics is based on the lectures of Austrian teacher/philosopher/ author Rudolph Steiner (the founder of Waldorf Schools, among other things). These teachings and writings from as early as 1924 have helped shape an agricultural revolution.    His philosophies were embraced and built upon in post-war Europe as a new generation saw first hand the destructive effects of pesticides used in their vineyards.

I purchased a bottle of Cuvee Papou (White Rhone-style Blend) :

CuveePapou.jpg   IMG_3879.jpg

(Foxen Canyon)
visitors welcome, but by appointment only
6701 Foxen Canyon Road
Los Olivos, CA 93441
805 686-2345
Their rams logo is based upon a family heirloom piece of jewelry which symbolizes strength and depicts the rams as protectors of the property. The image also represents the merging of the two exceptional wine portfolios under the Demetria name.

You can enjoy tasting on the patio overlooking the vineyard.
I really liked the architecture of the winery and patio, and I see why Bryan brings his clients to this appointment-only winery.
IMG_3868.jpg IMG_3856.jpg

View from inside the winery of the tasting patio.
These barrels hold about 24 cases of wine each.  Some are larger and taste less oaky since less wine touches the barrel.  These oak barrels, from France, cost $1,200 each.


Our tour of the winery.

New concrete fermenters.
Fermenting grapes.

Concrete Fermenting Eggs
Bottling machine.

Demetria uses corks at about $1 each.

Leaving Demetria Estate, we drove past Zaca Mesa vineyard, more interested in quantity than quality grape production.  I wanted to photograph the VSP (Vertical Shoot Positioning) form of pruning the vines.  This vineyard had more fruit on the vine than any vineyard I had ever seen.  This vineyard probably falls into the 10 - 12 tons of fruit per acre category.



Next:   Architectural Walking Tour near the Train Station, by Judy Keim

[ Top of this Report | Table of Contents | Santa Barbara Car FreeMy previous Santa Barbara Car Free Report  | |

TrainWeb.comSilver Rails Country, La Plata, MO | Links for this Report ]

Amtrak Specialist: Travel Agent - Carole Walker at 877-459-5900