The Frenchman and I are big on wine. The history, the process, the nuances, the nose, the taste… especially the taste.
One of the reasons we love living in Southern California is accessibility to all different landscapes and places. We’re only 2 hours away from the Central Coast wine region, which makes it a perfect overnight getaway.
Our typical itinerary for a weekend in Santa Ynez:
We’ve created a pattern with our weekend trips to Santa Ynez. Typically leaving Los Angeles at 10:00am, we’ll arrive in Santa Ynez around 12noon/12:30. Our first stop is Beckmen Vineyards. This winery is a recent discovery and one of our favorite domains in the area. Their wines are all small production cuvées (some don’t even reach 100 cases a year), predominantly Rhône varietals. They are a really great combination of old-world style with new world fruit. We’ve tasted quite a few of their wines by now, and although one always has a personal favorite, the entire range is consistently good, which is rare enough to be noticed. Not only do we love their wines, they also have beautiful property with private gazebos you can reserve for picnic lunches.
Seriously, the picnic lunches in the gazebo are probably one of my favorite reasons to come out here. There are several wineries which provide picnic areas for guests, but not a private area for you and your friends. I recommend making reservations far in advance. I believe they are free for groups less than 6 and there is a time limit, but we’ve always made reservations 1:00pm or later which means a lower probability that another group would come in for a lunch afterwards.
After a long leisurely lunch, we’ll head to winery #2 to taste. We’ll typically try someplace new although the Frenchman has a few favorites we’ll take turns visiting. This time around we visited the Larner Vineyards tasting room in downtown Los Olivos. The downtown area is along a cute street with several tasting rooms, cafes and restaurants.
Depending on the time, we’ll usually hit up one last winery but we had taken our time with our picnic lunch which meant all the wineries and tasting rooms were closed by the time we finished at Larner. So we did the next best thing – go to the hotel, take a much needed nap and wake up just in time for dinner!
Our go-to for dinner is the Hitching Post II. If you haven’t been here yet, go! The grilled artichoke appetizer is a must. Just thinking about it has me salivating. Of course all their meats are delicious and so is their wine list (their own Hitching Post Pinot Noirs are fantastic, sourced from a variety of local vineyards, and reasonably priced).
The next morning, we typically head to Solvang for breakfast and drive home immediately afterwards to beat the traffic. We’ll typically take the 101 back down to LA to see the beautiful coastline and make it back by lunchtime… really, quite the efficient overnight trip.
If you’re headed to the Santa Ynez to go wine tasting, here are a few of our current favorites: