Monday, August 11, 2014

Santa Ynez, CA

We are west coast people through and through, so we try to get out there as much as we can. One area we'd been really interested in visiting is Santa Barbara, CA and the wine country of Santa Ynez.

We took the opportunity to drive up Highway 1, so the trip took a little longer than it normally would, but it was totally worth it for the amazing views. We walked along El Matador beach and then made our way up to Santa Barbara. We spent some time wandering around downtown and stopped in at the Sanford tasting room. The wine was really good, but I'd go to the vineyard next time...ambiance is such a big factor for us. Jason made a new friend and we stopped at McConnell's for some great ice cream!

The next morning, we grabbed brunch at Jeannine's in Montecito. Holy cow, this town is adorable. New life goal - be able to afford a night at that Four Seasons! We walked along Butterfly Beach for a while before heading out for more wine tasting.

Less than 1 hour away is Santa Ynez. We went to Sunstone Winery first and this ended up being our favorite. The views were awesome and they offered free bread/olive oil tastings in a huge variety of flavors (roasted garlic, basil, lemon, blood orange, chocolate, etc). We had a lot of delicious Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs here. Honestly, this may have been our favorite tasting we've ever done!

Next, we went to Beckman and tried some really good Syrah's! This came highly recommended and I'm glad we stopped by. It was a smaller set up, but the staff was really knowledgeable. It was right at harvest time, so the vines were beautiful!

We stopped at the Los Olivos CafĂ© for lunch. It was good, but next time, I think we'll pack a picnic lunch as all of the wineries had cute areas to eat and drink outside. After that, we headed to Solvang for a quick treat at Solvang Bakery. This little Danish town was super adorable.

We fit in one more winery before heading out - Bridlewood. It ended up being our least favorite, but the wine was still good and the winery itself was beautiful! On the way back towards our hotel, we caught the tail end of the Cowboys' Training camp in Oxnard. We saw Ahmad Dixon, David Carr, Terrance Williams, Jason Witten and more...

All in all, it was a SUPER fun trip and I can definitely see us going back to explore this area more. This time we cut it pretty close, but were able to get back to Dallas and Jason got to be a flight attendant for a few hours. Free nights at our hotel made this trip super cheap as well - always a good thing!!

Up Next: I'll be heading to Albuquerque to visit my grandpa in a few weeks. I'm looking forward to spending time with him (and getting my chile pepper fix).

We're also beginning our final preparations for Japan - we leave in a little more than a month! This means I'm obsessively checking flights, creating Google maps for all of our must-see sights, researching yummy food places, of my favorite parts. If anyone has recommendations (we'll be in Tokyo and Kyoto), please let me know!