Leaving Los Angeles and the rain behind on Tuesday to travel to the Central Coast to enjoy the final day of the Santa Ynez Valley Wine Around as well as the beautiful vineyard landscapes with billowy clouds hanging over the mountaintops made for a spectacular day.
The event was the first of its kind in the Santa Ynez Valley and was created to make wine lovers of Southern California familiar with some of the great wineries located in this Santa Barbara County region. It featured three wineries that are part of three different appellations in the area. Representing the Santa Rita Hills was Foley Estates Winery, the Santa Ynez Valley was Bridlewood Estate Winery and the Los Alamos Valley was Fess Parker Vineyard & Winery.
Each winery had a different atmosphere. At Foley, the special tasting in the barrel room offered several Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. My favorite Chardonnay was the 2009 Steel. It had an almost Viognier quality to it with a hint of apples. The 2008 Barrel Select Pinot Noir was another favorite. Accompanying the wines were some wonderful stuffed mushrooms and Bruschetta. Although it was not part of the event we did get to taste a 2008 Rancho Santa Rosa Syrah and the 2008 Lindsay’s Vineyard Pinot Noir and it was well worth the tastes. Located on Highway 246, entering the Foley Winery one new spring was coming by the magnificent mauve and pink flowering fruit trees.
The highlight of the day was visiting Bridlewood Estate Wines. Located off Highway 154 on Roblar, the mission style winery makes you feel like you are in an elegantly remodeled California Mission. This winery was probably the most popular spot at the Wine Around. Live music and hors d’oeuvres consisting of Fondue, cheese, Panchetta, fruit and more made the Bridlewood Winery very welcoming and lively. The tasting started with a very smooth and light 2008 Viognier Reserve. Bridlewood is known for their Syrahs and my favorite of the four Syrahs I tasted was the 2006 Dusty Trails Syrah. This was a full-bodied very fruit forward Syrah. Besides a barrel tasting of a soon to be released Pinot Noir we had the opportunity to try the 2009 Blend 175. The story behind this wine was that it took 175 tastes to finally decide that the blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel was ready to be bottled. To finish off the tasting Bridlewood offered two Syrah Ports one being from their library and was exceptional.
Unfortunately we were unable to make it up to Fess Parker’s winery but having sampled their wines at Rodney’s Steakhouse in Santa Barbara this winery would be worth a visit. The wines are very drinkable and well balanced especially their Pinot Noir and Syrah.
Santa Ynez Valley Wine Around also included a $25 gift certificate for dining at one of three Restaurants at the Chumash Casino Resort. The Willows, the casinos’ upscale restaurant, features a fabulous wine list that includes many of the area wineries. By this point we were wined out so passed on wine. For those intriqued by unusual cocktails, The Willows offers an interesting selection of cocktails.
The menu consists of mainly steaks and seafood. The food was well prepared. Our meal started with a sampling of Roasted Tomato Bisque and a Crab Timbale. The Bisque was delicious and the Timbale a bit to spicy for our taste buds. The Willows’ House salad was a nice mixture of greens tossed with sunflower seeds, toasted almonds, golden raisins, chopped tomatoes, goat cheese and a syrah vinaigrette. It had a crunchy savory versus sweet flavor. The Chicken Piccata was tender and tasty.
All in all for a first time event the Santa Ynez Valley Wine Around was a success that the Santa Ynez Valley Visitors Association should be proud of.
Stay tuned for the next Santa Ynez Valley Wine Around coming this June.