Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Santa Ynez Wine Trip, Day #1

We drove from Ventura Thursday, February 3rd and checked into the Santa Ynez Inn.  Wow, this place is great and a first time visit for us; a little pricey but a great experience.  Big rooms, fancy bathroom with jacuzzi tubs.  And a big fat breakfast each morning and wine and hors’d oeuvres each evening at 5:00 p.m. and desserts and coffee at 8:00 p.m.  Easy to put on weight while staying there.

But time to do a little wine tasting and buy food at El Rancho Marketplace at 2886 Mission Drive, Solvang.  Then on to Gainey Vineyard for a picnic.  We share a bottle Gainey Sauvignon Blanc, which is citrusy and mild, perfect for our sandwiches and chips.

We pile in our cars and head for one of our favorite tasting rooms in Los Olivos.  It’s Epiphany!  I always love an epiphany, they’re so enlightening.  The six of us enter and are greeted by Jonathan, who we’ve met several times before.  We love they’re wines, some of our favorites in the Santa Ynez region.

Anyway, Jonathan is pouring and explaining the wines we’re tasting.  We love them all, both white and red.  But their red wines are all extraordinary thanks to their winemakers Eli Parker and Blair Fox.  These two are really accomplished and both have been awarded “Winemaker of the Year.”

The visit really comes to life when the ladies in our group, all retired teachers from the Beverly Hills district recall some of their stories.  I won’t bore you readers except for the going to the Academy Awards ceremony with Angelina Jolie when she was a student and then at one of the Oscar parties, where Oprah Winfrey joined them at their table.  There were many other stories but enough.  Jonathan was beside himself and couldn’t wait to regale his wife with the stories.

We add to our wine collections with several bottles of Epiphany wines and head for our last stop of the day at Roblar Winery.  Roblar is a conundrum; beautiful buildings and tasting rooms and excellent member benefits such as their “wine pick-up parties.”  The staff is superb, friendly, warm, and knowledgeable.

Just one problem...their wines suck.  Especially the reds and to make it worse, the wines are priced as if they were fabulous Napa Cabernets.  But they’re not.  How do they get off charging $50 for a mediocre Syrah?  I do like their Sauvignon blanc but that’s about it.  They also charge $14 for a tasting, much more than most tasting rooms in the area.  Again, it’s a mystery to me.

They are searching for a new winemaker as I write this so I hope they have some good fortune with that.  So what I’m saying, is don’t go to Roblar until they have their ducks in a row.  There are too many other great places near by.  Beckman Vineyard, for example, is a favorite and less than a mile away.

Back to the Santa Ynez Inn for complimentary wine and snacks before dinner at Brothers Restaurant at Mattei’s Tavern at 2350 Railway Ave · Los Olivos
(805) 688-4820.


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