I’m known for taking a zillion pictures whenever I go on a trip. For example, I went to New York a few months ago with my two girlfriends for work and I snapped 720 shots on my Canon. This past weekend, Chris and I drove up to Los Olivos, CA to go wine tasting for a day and night and I came home with 252 pictures waiting to be uploaded. Well, come on. I’m asian! We take lots of pictures! Haha. Just kidding. But I definitely do fit that “asian picture taking person” profile minus all the peace signs and cheesy grins (though I like to do that every now and then to really bug my boyfriend.)
This weekend’s trip was fantastic. Why did we go? Just because. We don’t really follow the rules of the universe and go somewhere romantic just because it’s Valentine’s Day or do something special if it’s someone’s birthday. We like to do things just because. We stayed at the Hotel Corque (highly recommended if you plan on going to Solvang anytime soon because they just remodeled the building and all the rooms are practically brand spanking new!) Saturday consisted of wine tasting at 10am but we were running on empty fuel (except for a morning fruit smoothie I whipped up before the drive) so our wine tasting adventure ended earlier than we had hoped with me passing out for a nap at the hotel. Heat + long drive + lots of wine tasting = tired Melissa. We had nine wineries on our list and we were able to make seven…. not bad, right?
Anyway, I’ll stop talking and let the pictures speak for themselves. I love being so close to wine country – just another beautiful thing about living in California I suppose 🙂
I felt like I was in a Steinbeck novel.
Here’s the hotel – Hotel Corque. Go there!
The entrance to Rancho Sisquoc Winery, which I highly recommend. It’s way out in the middle of nowhere so don’t freak out if you think you’re driving into no-man’s land…
The famous Foxen Winery – I’m sure you’ve seen their wines if you’re a wino. Great stuff but we weren’t ready to shell out $50/bottle quite yet so we did their tasting and exchanged a few chuckles with the friendly wine man behind the bar. Oh, did I mention you get to keep most of the glasses from the wine tasting? Not bad if you don’t have wine glasses to begin with.
It’s hard to get lost around here. Follow the signs.
Firestone Winery, home to Andrew Firestone & Co. (aka the Bachelor). This was about where the room started to spin for me. I’m not proud of it and I definitely learned my lesson: EAT BEFORE YOU DRINK!
Fast forward to dinner at The Ballard Inn, which was SOOOO romantic and cozy with excellent service and a beautiful setting. We dined out on the porch of the inn and feasted on all things non-raw and non-vegan, ha! And you know what? I loved every single bite of it. I’m human 😀
We split the seafood tomato bisque that was creamy, dreamy and yummy in my tummy! It was topped with a swirl of creme fraiche, slow roasted tomatoes and herbs.
My entree was a shrimp mousse-crusted sea bass on a bed of creamy garlicky risotto with a side of sauteed broccolini.
Chris ordered the scallops that came with a side of greens and sliced apple and a Thai style sauce.
The next morning before we left, we hit downtown Solvang (all three streets) and had breakfast at some Belgian cafe. I ordered the Belgian waffle because, duh, they are SO good and Chris got Crepes Benedict (way way too rich and heavy for me but it was nice to look at.) We strolled around the streets then decided to take off for some more wineries before driving back to LA.
Here’s me infront of the vineyard at Kalyra Winery, another place I’d recommend. Also, scenes from Sideways the movie was shot there.
We were blown away by the winery at Melville. GORGEOUS property.
Babcock Winery was right next door. Literally. So we cruised on over and finished our last wine tasting there – NINE OF THEM! Thank god we split all the tastings on Sunday.
Who’s that goofy looking couple?
So here’s the rundown on the wineries, if you’re ever in the area and need suggestions. These were actually recommendations from our friends who love wine but to be honest, none of them really appealed to us in a super fabulous way. I hate to admit it (and maybe because I’m such an amateur at wine) but I far more enjoyed the bottles of Chianti and Kim Crawford whites we got from Trader Joes and Beverage Warehouse.
Rancho Sisquoc: beautiful setting for a fun picnic. If you’re going here, be SURE to buy food before you drive because this place doesn’t sell snacks or food (such a shame, too, since they have great picnic seating) and we didn’t see a grocery store in sight. The wines were pretty good. We bought two bottles of their Riesling but then again, I’m a sucker for Riesling anything. They also carried a good Merlot, if you’re into reds.
Foxen Winery: the wines were good but not good enough to make us go ga-ga for the $50 bottles. The bar man was friendly and easygoing. Didn’t like the fact that their “bathrooms” were porta potties (gross!) and their indoor tasting room was fairly small. We had to squeeze our way into the bar in the outdoor tasting area. But it has a very pretty view in the back area and a cool little tiki bar setup.
Curtis Winery: this came so highly recommended by our friends but, wow, what a disappointment. Their wines were so-so but the service was AWFUL. I repeat, the service was AWFUL. We kept waiting and waiting and waiting and the girl forgot about us at one point…or was she just ignoring us? Either way, I didn’t have a good experience here. Hopefully, the next will be better if we decide to go back.
Firestone Winery: HUGE. Lots of people. But attentive service and friendly staff. As for the wines…um, this is when things started to get fuzzy for me. Don’t quite remember but I was having a good time.
Kalyra Winery: Very friendly staff and cool ambience – tropical, island-like. Wine was good. If you enjoy dessert wines, you’ll like this place. We tasted an orange Riesling that made us both gag from the sugar content. Yes, there is such a thing as too sweet!
Melville Winery: The property was amazing and well-kept. Beautiful beautiful. The lady behind the bar was super nice and knowledgeable. Wines were good but again, not good enough for us to buy.
Babcock Winery: Sat on a mini hill. Very pretty but the staff wasn’t quite so friendly. Wines were just mediocre to me. The plus was that you got nine different tasting instead of the average five.