Wine Tasting in Santa Barbara County - Part 2



Last week, I shared our adventures in the Central Coast. The first two days were spent with a large group, which really limits where you can go. When I organize these wine trips, I always leave Sunday and Monday for my “wish list” wineries to seek. This list grows, as I met winemakers, and ask for recommendations .Usually, my best “finds” are on Sundays and Mondays. This year was no exception.

Sunday morning started with breakfast at Ellen’s  Danish Pancake House in Buellton. I have found this place to be better than the more well-known places in Solvang, and less crowded. I have often run into winemakers in this place, and the prices are very reasonable.

The previous day, I had been able to connect with Mike Roth, the winemaker at Martian Ranch and Vineyards, and was able to arrange a tasting with his assistant winemaker, Craig Winchester, on Sunday morning. We had heard about Martian from other winemakers, and just happened to have ordered a bottle of “Ground Control” for lunch on Friday. We drove towards Los Alamos, then turned off at Alisos Cyn Rd. The addresses weren't matching up, and we wondered where we were going, then we came across a little martian image along the right side of the road, headed up the dirt road, and there it was. We were the only ones there.

While the name Martian brings images of little space creatures (and they do play this up on their label and in their tasting room), the name actually comes from a combination of the owner’s son’s names: Martin and Ian. All the wines are estate grown, and biodynamic. They also eliminate the use of added sulfur, which means they have to keep everything extraordinarily clean.

We met with the Craig, and he showed us around the crush facility, and their beautiful wooden fermentation tanks, then into the cellar room for some barrel tastings. When we worked our way back out to the tasting room, we tried virtually every wine they make, including some new release Chenin Blanc, Albarino, and Cabernet Franc. All their wines are something special, and I would really keep an eye on these guys. Their wine club is currently just starting up, and as soon as word gets out that their wines are priced between $20 and $35….good luck finding this small production wine. This is your “hot tip” for the week!

After spending three hours at Martian, we traveled north to the Arroyo Grande AVA. We drove through the quaint little town (I have to go back to check out the ice cream store), and arrived at Talley Vineyards. We pulled out the picnic coolers, and sat down for lunch as a classic rock band played tunes in the outdoor grass area. Talley is surrounded by farm land, mixed in with grapevines. Their main focus is on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Next we drove about fifteen minutes further north, into the Edna Valley AVA, and stopped at Sextant Wines, located in the original townsite of Edna. The wines are sourced locally, and from Paso Robles. The wines that stood out for me, were the two dessert wines. Sitting behind the tasting room building is the actual old Edna town site. It seems that most people don’t even realize it is there.

By now, the day was mostly gone, so we headed back to our hotel, then off to dinner at Root 246. The restaurant is located in Solvang, and offers some of the most interesting seasonal cuisine in the area. While most everyone in our group ordered the prime rib special, I stuck with the menu. The appetizer of Lamb belly was followed by the finest pork dish I have ever had. The pork was sous vide, tender but crispy on the outside….absolutely delicious.

Monday we started early, and drove over to Mosby. They produce a number of Italian varietals that many people are not familiar with: Sangrantino, Teroldego, Lagrein, and Dolcetto. These are great food wines, at reasonable prices.

Our next stop was at Standing Sun wines. This winery was suggested by a number of other winemakers. When we arrived, we were greeted by the winemaker/owner, John Wright. He was in the process of rearranging his cellar, so he could host a concert there that evening. John told us that this was a regular happening in his winery, where musicians come in and play. His wine selection was a mix of Rhone and Burgundy varietals.

On our way out of town, we stopped by the Los Olivos Grocery store. They have a large selection of local wines, cheeses, balsamic vinegar, olive oils, fresh bread, and specialty foods.

Hopefully the last two blogs have given you some ideas for your next wine tasting trip in Santa Barbara County. There is a lot to explore, and some great spots that you should check out.

1 comment:

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