#22 – Snow Covered Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley

Wow. Today was one of the most beautiful days I’ve had here since moving to Santa Barbara two years ago. Although it was on and off, the mountains were reflecting sunlight from the “thick” layer snow that fell during the storm on Figueroa Mountain. A thick layer of snow here means anything over a half a foot. And that about maxes out our yearly total. No snowboarding here.By about 4pm most of the snow had evaporated, which given the climate of this area, is pretty good amount of time for nature to give you the chance to enjoy the scenery. There’s nothing quite like a sun-lit vineyard with a stormy backdrop and snow on the mountains. With the weather constantly changing there was a new surprise waiting as we left each vineyard, ranging from hail to rain to wind gusts that blew the guests hair into a frenzy.

The photos here are from Kalyra Vineyard and Bridlewood Estates Vineyard in Santa Ynez, California.

Kalyra Vineyard is owned by an Australian Wine maker who is most known for his Port style wines. Although they serve a variety of other delicious wines, the dessert wines are what stand out here to me.

Bridlewood with Snow on figueroa mountain

Bridlewood with Snow on Figueroa Mountain

Bridlewood Estates (above), has recently been acquired by Gallo, the wine mafia. Although I won’t get a near a bottle of gallo’s name brand wine, they do own a few really good estates, including this one. Favorite here include they flavor profiled Syrah, especial the smokey “Dusty Trails” and the BIG “Six Gun”. I pretty much like everything on their current taste list including a stainless-steel fermented Chardonnay that is Fresh and Crispy, great for any Summertime BBQ. The Viogner is floral on the nose but has a dry taste and finish making this a great one for poultry and fish. They also grow the online Estate Zinfandel in Santa Ynez, on a nice south-facing hill that gets enough sunshine to grow this hot-climate grape. And i gotta say its not bad. Although i’m going to stick to the jammy Paso Robles Zin’s, it’s tasty and lighter.

Kalyra Vineyard (below) is owned by an Australian Wine maker who is most known for his Port style wines. Although they serve a variety of other delicious wines, the dessert wines are what stand out here to me.

Kalyra Vineyard, Gwuertztraminer

Kalyra Vineyard, Gwuertztraminer showing first buds. Let's hope they don't get too cold tonight ... It's supposed to be 33* :( No Anti-Frost sprinkler systems here ....

Bridlewood Vineyard Racetrack with Snow on Figuera Mountain

Bridlewood Vineyard Racetrack

Figuera Mountain, Santa Barbara County

Figuera Mountain

If you want to learn more about wine and the Central Coast Growing Region, have someone from Captain Jacks Tours take you around the area. The company has some great guides for different tours including, Santa Ynez and Santa Rita Wine Tours, Coastal and Harbor Kayaking as well as Horseback Rides into the mountains by day and along the beach at sunset time. Maybe I’ll see you on one of the many great tours offered,

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#5 – Wine 101 – World Class Organic Wine from Santa Rita

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World Class Organic Wine from Santa Rita

Although at first sight this may look like a run down farmhouse with some cactus growing along side but don’t be fooled because inside you will find some of my favorite Pinot Noirs in the Santa Rita Valley. The Sanford family were pioneers of the Central Coast Region way before the movie Sideways drew crowds of tourists into the area. Although many of their vines now belong to the Benedicts ( and no matter how i look at it, it seems to have been a shady deal ) at about 40yrs of age they still have some of the oldest Chardonnay Vines in the area. Mr. Sanford is a very relaxed guy who enjoys the simpler life out on his vineyard and chooses to practice organic farming, even when selecting to use twist-off caps rather than cork, which can take decades to regrow. Now although these vines will decrease in production there is a certain flavor and feeling that you get knowing so much time has gone into the growth of the vine. I’ve had a couple of vines that were from 85 year old vines from France and i must say that with age does come character.
Having worked as a Wine Tour guide here in the region for a few years, i’ve tried many of the wineries out here. Some others on my list of recommendations are: Bridlewood for their world class Syrahs, especially their bold flavored “Dusty Trails, Brander Vineyard for Sav. Blanc, Imagine Wines for Zinfandel, Syrah and their newest addition, the 2010 Zinfandel a great party gift, BD or the PD meaning Boxer and Panty Dropper. Other favorites include: Rusack (Riesling), Shoestring (Syrah, Syrah Rose,Merlot, Blends), Fess Parker (Variety), Khoeler (Off-Dry Riesling, Cab, Sangiovese) and Foley (High End Pinot Noir and Chardonnay). Hope you find my recommendations useful !

You can find Alma Rosa just a few miles west of the 101. Exit Santa Rosa Road and head into the Santa Rita Valley. The entrance only has a small sign but look for the first vines on the left side of the road. You’ll have to follow a small rocky road and cross a tiny little waterbed ( easily done with small car ). Just past the homes of the owners you’ll find this hidden gem. Tell them Yens from Captain Jacks sent you !

Or if you want to come on a tour with me into the Santa Ynez or Santa Rita Valley, email me and ill set you up with a great tour of the region.