Santa Barbara Wine Country
On Sunday (the 23rd) Ryan and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary, and eleven years together. Last year, for our tenth (dating) anniversary we took a trip to one of our favorite places in the whole world – Ireland. We have many great friends there, and we’ve been thinking of them all week as we reminisce about “where we were this time last year”. As an anniversary gift, Ryan gave me an amazing book of his photos from that trip, and he’s posting some of the beautiful pictures on his blog this week.
This year though, we had to work on our anniversary, so we decided to go away for a night away during the week. We drove up to another favorite place of ours, the Santa Ynez valley, just north of Santa Barbara and only a couple of hours from LA. We made our way up the 101 to our first stop on the trip – the Los Olivos Grocery store. They have great prepared food and sandwiches at the deli (with plenty of vegan options), so we like to pick up some lunch and then go picnic at the Fess Parker winery, where we can buy a bottle of wine to enjoy with lunch. Just look at that glass of voignier!
I’m actually not a huge drinker – I’m very much a lightweight when it comes to alcohol – but there’s nothing like a great glass of wine with some yummy food enjoyed in the great outdoors. Later in the evening we went into Solvang to check out their farmers market. Solvang is a really cute town, but can be a little touristy. Being there during the week was really nice though, and much less crowded than the weekends. After strolling around town we headed back to the Ballard Inn, which offers great midweek deals. We spent the night playing cards and trivial pursuit on the beautiful wrap-around porch.
The next morning we woke up bright and early to head out to Ditmar’s Apple farm, where they have all different kinds of apples that are available at varying times from late August to sometimes as late as December. We got some amazing gala apples, peaches and pears that we bought directly from Mr. Dittmar, who sells them from a table under a huge oak tree by the side of the road. I wish I could buy all my fruit like that!
The next stop was Clairmont Farms, a family owned lavender farm that was just up the street from the orchard. The flowers on the farm were in bloom, and the smell was amazing. The view wasn’t too bad either! I tried to be good and only buy a couple of things – a candle that I’m only burning in little spurts to make it last, and some lavender mist that I’m spraying around like a mad woman.
Whether or not you’re a wine enthusiast, I can’t recommend visiting this area enough. There’s something so satisfying about visiting the actual location where products (whether it’s food, lavender or wine) that you consume come from. One thing we didn’t get a chance to do was go berry picking, but there were several places where you can. There are a lot of things to do and see that have nothing to do with wine, if that’s not your thing.
If however, it is your thing, then you’re in a pretty good place for it! We were very fortunate with perfect weather, and since we went mid-week we didn’t really have to deal with crowds anywhere. We’re hoping to be able to take a trip up again before the year is out. For now, it’s back to LA and work and traffic and everything else that comes with reality… but at least we have the memories!