I posed my first day and a half on Paso Robles in the forum. On our second full day, we ventured down to Solvang for breakfast. Fun stop, but very touristy, especially on the holiday weekend.
Photos from Paso/Santa Maria here:
It was cool to drive by the "Sideways" areas like the Windmill motel and The Hitching Post. Solvang has some great bakeries. We didn't have much time, so got pastries, then hit the road back up to Santa Maria to meet Paul Wilkins, winemaker at Alta Maria/Native9. We met him and he took us on a memorable tour of Rancho Ontiveros where we say the original Pinot Noir plantings used to make Native9 wine and other pinot vineyards that Caymus sources from for Belle Glos and Meiomi.
We had a great, informative tour of the ranch and then tasted at the picnic area with Paul,
Fun, as driving to/from Ontiveros, you pass Clark/Telephone intersection which has another Caymus Pinot Noir vineyard. We needed gas, so Paul lead us to Orcutt where we were able to drive-thru and get burgers at the place where they filmed Paul Giamatti eating a burger with his prized Cheal Blanc in "Sideways". Great burgers and fries!
We then ventured in to Los Olivos, where there are many tasting rooms for the wineris in the Santa Maria Valley and more. It was hot out that day, so we rushed as our wines wouldn't sit in the car too long. Our first stop, was the tasting room for Cimarone. I had repped this brand and knew they made great Syrah for a value price. Fun tasting room and owners Roger and "Cilla" Higgins were there to meet the visitors. Very tasty wines with an outstanding price/value ratio. Winemaker is Doug Margerum. We tasted their
They also make some great EVOO, so I picked one of those up in addition to my wines.
Next, the Qupé tasting room was across the street, so we went there as I knew they had some quality wines. Busy due to the holiday weekend, but a nice tasting. We had their
We were supposed to go to Alta Maria's tasting room to go over even more of their wines, so we headed there next as time was passing. Alta Maria also has a great tasting room with the Alta Maria, Native9 and Autonom wines Paul makes. Here, we tasted the
We were yearning for more Pinot to finish, so we went in to the Los Olivos Tasting Room and Wine Shop. They have fun flights of many different wines from different producers. Very eclectic mix. Here, we tasted some interesting stuff including
For an extra fee, you could get a pour of Sea Smoke. I had to.
The followin day, we ventured from our motel in SLO, to Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Photos here if you're interested:
Santa Maria & Los Olivos Day (Labor Day Weekend Trip)
- Reply by EMark, Sep 11, 2012.
Thank you very much for this continuation report of your trip.
The issue you mentioned about leaving wine in the hot car is similar to my experience last June when we went to the races at Sears Point. I had picked up a few bottles from Sonoma area wineries, but I had to figure out what to do with them after we checked out of the hotel on Sunday morning. We would be spending 8-9 hours at the track, and I knew that the car would get pretty hot. Sears Point is very close to San Pablo Bay. It is not as hot as some of the Valley's, but we knew that day was going to be warm. So, I put the bottles in a cooler, and filled a couple zip-lock bags with ice from the hotel's machine, laid those ice bags over the top of the bottles, and that did the trick. The car got hot, and the wines stayed cool. I only had 8 bottles. So, they fit very easily into one of our coolers.
- Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 12, 2012.
Thanks, VO, for a very informative post. I'm really overdue for a trip south. It's easy to just keep going back to the places in my backyard, so to speak, but I think JD and I need to do Amador/Sierra Foothills from my end of the state and SLO/PR nearer to him.
EMark, I've been using reusable ice packs anytime I have to take wine and the car is going to sit for even a short while. I don't have to fill the cooler, since the cooler will also provide some insulation and starts cool, but a few of those reusable packs is plenty to keep a few bottles cool for a little while. Unfortunately, when we went to OR last year, we just didn't have the space. So I came home empty handed. I also found these nice flexible ice mats (made in the USA!) at World Market--I think the link is to a pack of 6, because I didn't pay anything like $5 per.
- Reply by EMark, Sep 13, 2012.
I agree, totally, Fox, that you don't have to fill the cooler with ice. We, in fact, had several (8-9) "blue ices" with us on that trip, but they were all defrosted, and, so, grabbing a couple medium-sized zip-locks and taking advantage of the hotel's ice machine worked very well. The next morning we replenished the bags at the next hotel for the trip through the Central Valley.
We actually have some of those ice mats, and, I agree, they work great.
- Reply by napagirl68, Sep 16, 2012.
Thanks, VO! Great contribution... I appreciate reading others' experiences.
Just a note... it's been 1.5yrs, but I really liked Alexander and Wayne winery's Bordeaux blends. The cuvee P and cuvee 5 were great.. They are in Los Olivos. Such a sweet little town.
- Reply by AlineAlmeida, Sep 12, 2013.
Wow, I just read this as I am doing reasearch for my upcoming Santa Barbara trip (which I now feel embarrassed of having announced and talked about quite a bit on this Forum!). Thanks for such great advice!