Taste, Sip and Enjoy | Food, Wine and Travel

Key to Wine Country Weekend–Day One

Key to Wine Country Weekend–Day One

Did you purchase a key from the Santa Barbara Vintners last weekend?  If not, you missed an incredible opportunity to unlock abundant wine experiences throughout Santa Barbara Countt.  Friday through Sunday, the days were jammed with many activities, from unique tastings to lunches and dinners.

Our slow paced, two day safari began Saturday as we drove west toward Lompoc.   After about 15 miles we made a right onto Drum Canyon Road and quickly spied Dierberg Vineyard.


Greeted by Hollie, we only needed to show our magic “key”  and were given thorough instructions for our cheese and chocolate pairing.  We have visited Dierberg on a number of occasions and confirm, the warm welcomes and extremely competent staff, make a visit to this winery a very special event.

The cheese was provided by Santa Ynez Valley Cheese Company.  We  recently found this newly opened shop in Santa Ynez and met owner Kristin Collins and her husband, Russ.


Their cut-to-order cheese and cured meat will soon expand to include their own brand of artisan cheese.  This shop is definitely worth a stop before your next party to purchase a platter of cheese and charcuterie of your own choosing.

Today our plate of cheese began at the 12:00 position with the double cream Brie, Fromager d’Assinois, from France.  It was paired with the 2009 Dierberg “Steel Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley, Estate Grown.  I was so very content, but knew we needed to move on to the intense 2007 Dierberg Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, also Estate Grown.  Our mouth was now ready for the Gouda, Nord Hollander, from Hollard.   The last cheese combination was a Cheve, Red Wood Hill from Sebastapol, California, paired with the 2008 Dierberg Syrah from Happy Canyon.


Our chocolates were a milk chocolate Madras curry and 2008 Star Lane Cabernet Sauvignon, from Happy Canyon.  And to finish a 2006 Star Lane Astral, again Happy Canyon, with a dark Chocolate rose.

While we sipped and savored while we watched playful dogs making new friends.


The music kept us upbeat as we watched guests try their skill with the bean bag game. What a way to start the morning!


Out the driveway we made a right again onto the old Drum Canyon road.  This ten mile road connects Highway 246 with Highway 135 in Los Alamos.  It begins as two lanes but very soon they converge into one with a few side cut-outs for passing.  It climbs up through the oaks and chaparral, twisting and turning over bumps and patches through the Purisima Hills.   It is certainly worth the adventure, but not for the faint of heart.


Arriving in Los Alamos we were due a reward.  Nothing is better than a light lunch at Bell Street Farm.  How exciting to discover “TodaysSpecial” was a house cured pastrami sandwich!  Chef Jamie Gluck’s food makes any hair raising trail well worth the effort.


Stomachs full, we headed for Foxen Canyon Road and Zaca Mesa Winery in Santa Maria.


This property was purchased in 1972  and planted in 1973.  The winery was first built in 1978 with Ken Brown as winemaker.  Over the years it has been a training ground for winemakers where focus is on Rhone varieties.  Their wines have been served by President Clinton to President Jacques Chirac and also at President Reagan’s 80th birthday.

It looked like party time as we spied some gals, with outrageous hats, enjoying games and wine………..


………as we headed to the barrel room.


Along with tasting four wines, we enjoyed a barrel sample,……..


…… history of the winery, and saw one of the tiniest offices ever!   Cute, cozy and everything within easy reach.


Heading to Los Olivos, our last stop of the day was Beckmen Vineyards founded in 1994 by Tom and Steve Beckmen.   The tasting room was very busy, so we decided to take advantage of the lovely outdoor patio and drink in, not only the wine, but  the view.


Here we were able to sample a full line of the estate-grown Rhone varietals.  With my wine I relaxed beneath the blue skies and wispy clouds.


Ken relaxed as he enjoyed the 2011 PMV Syrah Clone #1.


This Syrah had been sourced from vines planted in 1868 at Best’s Vineyard in Victoria, Australia.  Beckmen considers this their flagship single-clone bottling and tell us it is a “wine you can drink in through your nose.”  It was terrific!

We discussed our options for the following day and wondered what had happened to the last six hours.  Wine tasting is time consuming.  If you want a relaxing and slow paced safari, do not plan to visit six or eight wineries in eight hours.  Plan ahead! Expect to taste, sip and enjoy the wines, food and all the beautiful scenery the Santa Ynez Valley has to offer.











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One Comment

  1. Thank you so much for such a beautiful write up. I am so happy that you enjoyed your Key To Wine Country experience and I hope that you can come and visit us again very soon. Thanks again!

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