If the recent spate of below average temps has you singing the winter blues in Los Angeles, it is time to leave the city behind and hit the open road. A weekend in the country exploring vast vino landcapes is just what the doctor ordered.
The Santa Ynez Valley is home to more than 70 vineyards covering more than 50 square miles, with seven wine trails and several city wine walks.
Leslie Westbrook, author and travel planner for Jetsetter.com, suggests Foxen Canyon Wine Trail as a great place to start. “It is a gorgeous drive and there are some great wineries. Be sure to head out with picnic supplies — grab these at the Los Olivos Market — and a full tank of gas,” she said.
Along the trail, don’t miss Zaca Mesa Winery and its fabulous Black Bear Block Syrah. Rancho Sisquoc Winery sits on a 37,000-acre cattle ranch at the end of the route — “the most bucolic and historic stop on the trail” in Westbrook’s view.
If you don’t have a designated driver, Stagecoach Co. Wine Tours (www.winetourssantaynez.com) will pick you up from any of a number of spots around the region and also takes the guesswork out of choosing which vineyards to hit.
Further north in San Luis Obispo County is Paso Robles, home to more than 200 vintners scattered along miles of country back roads off Highway 46 to the east and west of Highway 101. It is also one of California’s hottest new wine regions known especially for its Rhones and Zinfandels. Try Peachy Canyon Winery to sample Zinfandels or Tablas Creek Vineyards for Rhones, both locally recognized for each. Steinbeck Vineyards is another great pick, and a local and family favorite.
What’s more, the town of Paso Robles is not only on the Amtrak line with service from Los Angeles, but also home to a historic downtown where tasting rooms, boutiques and farm-to-table restaurants await.
For organized wine tours, try Wine Wrangler (www.thewinewrangler.com), The Grapeline (www.gogrape.com) and The Wine Line (www.hoponthewineline.com).
—Becca Blond, Brand Publishing Writer
More Central Coast
Nestled among towering pines and shimmering seas, Cambria is a picturesque village brimming with charm. Winter and spring bring mild weather perfect for wine tasting, shopping, exploring natural wonders and perhaps visiting the “babies” at the elephant seal rookery.
This winter, get away to Santa Barbara. Here, escape comes easy in the form of perfect coastal temperatures, sunny skies and shady brick courtyards. There is no hustle or bustle, just porticos that give way to storybook storefronts and a laid-back costal way of life. Santa Barbara is a place where it’s effortless to reconnect with yourself and each other — where a memorable day at the beach leads to an unforgettable evening of art and culture. Leave the car in park and wander the pedestrian-friendly streets until you stumble upon a menu that catches your eye and makes your mouth water.
Santa Barbara, where the good life meets the great life.
Stay. Play. Wine. Dine.
Discover a tasty winter getaway just two hours up the coast from L.A. in the Santa Ynez Valley. The heart of Santa Barbara’s wine country boasts plenty of sunshine for outdoor and indoor recreation. “With 32 unique lodging choices — plus food and wine events — winter is a wonderful time of the year to stay and play in the Santa Ynez Valley,” said Mary Harris at the Santa Ynez Valley Hotel Assn. (www.syvha.com).
From Jan. 20 to 26, experience the third annual Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Week with special three-course menus for only $20.13. Visit www.visitthesantaynezvalley.com/restaurantweek for delicious details.
Reserve Mar. 13 to 17 for the 21st annual Taste of Solvang featuring a “walk and talk” with farmers’ market chefs, vineyard tours, winemaker dinners, a dessert reception party, a walking smorgasbord and a wine-tasting-room walk. Weekend passports for $75 include an etched wine glass and tote bag, or individual event tickets may be purchased at www.solvangusa.com.
Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort & Spa
Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa rests atop hot mineral springs and spans more than 100 acres of oceanside hills and meadows in picturesque San Luis Obispo, conveniently located halfway between L.A. and San Francisco.
The authentic California resort — where every room features a private balcony with a hot tub — offers an award-winning spa, the Gardens of Avila Restaurant, a labyrinth, mineral spring hot tubs, hiking trails and daily mind and body classes in its Yoga Dome.
Escape to the historic resort and experience rustic elegance in a serene and relaxing environment surrounded with the best California has to offer.