Wine tasting in Santa Ynez

If you’re getting jealous tired of all the holiday posts, don’t worry, this is the last one!

We spent our second last day of our holiday driving over the mountains from Santa Barbara in the Santa Ynez valley, which is a big but quite young wine-making region. It’s such a beautiful area – you drive over the San Marcos mountain pass and down past Lake Cachuma and the views are so beautiful.

Our first stop was the Sunstone Vineyard and Winery where we tried their tasting list, plus the reserves which were good. They have one wine called Eros which a number of people had told us was good, and it really was. Although the high price tag was not fitting into our end-of-holiday budget 🙂

“Ah yes, this I believe is what they call a red wine. You can tell by the redness…”

After drinking wine in the beautiful courtyard, we drove a few miles to the small town of Solvang, which – you may be able to tell by the name – was founded by Danes. It is like a mini-Denmark, only with a distinct Disney feel to the whole place, like one of those medieval villages you go and visit and all the actors are pretending to be milkmaids and farmers.

We wandered around enjoying all the street names named after Danish cities. Stopped for lunch at a tavern where we had Medisterpølse (sausage), red cabbage and fried potatoes. It’s very Christmassy Danish food so it was kinda fun eating it in the hot Californian sunshine!

At the same place, there was an old guy playing the accordian and singing a range of songs in English, Spanish and Danish. We stopped to ask him where he was from and got his whole life story – born in Jylland, moved to Argentina as a young man and married an Argentinian woman, then they moved to California during the 70s when things got heated over there. Apparently he and his wife still dance tangoes in the town parades! He would switch mid-sentence between Danish and English!

We went on to two more tasting rooms after. The first was representing lots of very small producers who weren’t that good, but then we found a small place where the lovely lady inside hadn’t had any customers all day so was very happy to liberally pour the wine and talk about the stories and production. We ended up buying two merlots and two syrahs from her to safely pack into suitcases on the way home…

Speaking of suitcases, since this is the last holiday post, I will leave you with this photo: we had an early morning flight out of LAX so stayed overnight in the Airport Hilton, spending much of the evening repacking our bags – we’d come with two hand-luggage size suitcases and went home with four 🙂