Most people think of Napa when it comes to the California wine country, but there are actually excellent wines along the entire state. This weekend I ventured out for a girls trip to the Santa Ynez Valley, just east of Santa Barbara and a few hours away from LA. I love this area because it’s picturesque and has great wineries, but in a more casual setting. While you may pay $20-30 per tasting in Napa, most of the tastings in this area are $10 and typically just as good.
We rented a limo (safety is always first for a sasstress) and started out at the Gainey winery (below – left). My favorite here was the Chardonnay, which has a much more buttery taste than Chardonnays I’m used to. There are also picnic grounds at Gainey, so we brought our own charcuteries, cheeses, and salads for a nice picnic before continuing our adventure.After a few more wineries, we headed into the town of Los Olivos which has several wine tasting rooms. First stop was Carhartt, where my bestie Noa and I (above picture – right) enjoyed some wine in their completely shaded outdoor patio (it was nearly 100 degrees, so it was nice to cool off a bit while still enjoying the outdoors). Last stop was my favorite – Daniel Gehrs. Every single wine at this place is delicious, especially the Riesling – the perfect balance of dryness and sweetness, and the Fireside Port – available for a 375 ml size which is more realistic for a dessert wine.
After making our final purchases at Daniel Gehrs, we headed into the town of Solvang to check into the Kronborg Inn (below). We settled in and cooled down at the pool before heading to dinner and having an early night.The next day we went into town to explore and sulk in the beautiful scenery. Solvang is a Danish inspired town, founded by Danish settlers in the early 1900s. The buildings (as you can see with the windmill at the hotel), restaurants, and shops offer a taste of Denmark. It’s a town that is mostly unknown to California natives and truly feels like you’re somewhere else. We decided to do an impromptu visit to one final winery in Solvang – Toccata. I was a bit wine-d out, so I sipped a bit on my friend’s tasting. I’ve always loved the look of darker roses, so I also asked for a tasting of the Rosato. Both the Pinot Grigio and Rosato (below) were very tasty, so I bought my final two wines before heading back home. A great trip and weekend with great company. Thanks girls!