Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Where's Wino?

No sooner did we get back from our trip when I got a call from a friend from England (Isle of Wight) saying she was here, at last. Hooray! I haven't seen Helen since we met her on our trip to Denmark three years ago, but we've been in touch electronically ever since. Helen and her friend from Arizona, Alicia, spent Saturday night through yesterday with us. Playing SB tour guide for new people is one of my favorite things to do (See my Big List O' Links - it has an entire Santa Barbara section, in case you ever visit). I was all for making a big day out of Sunday, but we didn't want to push the girls, so we had a nice lunch with friends after our regular services and got a late start to wine tasting.

Being from Arizona and England, the girls had no idea of what awaited them -the drive up over the mountains behind town and into the Santa Ynez valley has some of the most beautiful views you'll see. They couldn't get enough of the vistas that stretch east and west and out over the ocean....but than again, I can't either. I feel incredibly blessed by the sheer accident of being born here in this little slice of unique California coastline. Despite being stolen from its' original caretakers, built on, fought over, shaken by earthquakes, drowned in tidal waves, burnt, smothered in landslides and (now) overpopulated....it is still a place of incredible natural beauty as well as having some great human additions.

Enough about that, though...we were headed for the bottoms of our glasses. I mean, the tasting rooms - first Kalyra, where I got to give the "How to taste wine in four simple steps" speech (Swirl, See, Sniff and Slurp) to our vineyard virgins. Not surprisingly, they loved the sweet/white wines - most people don't start drinking big, strong-flavored wines that are heavy on tannins right away. The girls were lovely guests, oohing and ahhing over the view, the wine, keeping their glasses, hic! the wine, the dogs that wander around freely around the property and the day in general. Kalyra happens to make excellent dessert wines - an Orange Muscat a Tawny Port and a rich, raisin-y Syrah Port. I am not a white wine drinker, as a rule, but their Gewurtztraminer (Ger-VERt-tra-meen-er) and their Viognier are both superb. My favorite taste was the Old Vines Zinfandel - the fruit was deep, rich and jammy and balanced with some tannins, not enough for that puckery feeling after you swallow.

Next we did Sunstone (my favorite and a great wedding location, too!)
The Rice Family in front of tasting room
Since it was Valentines' weekend, there were loads of chocolate pairings with the wines. We did the "library taste" (read: more wine) - which explains why I didn't have a clear single favorite here...to much chocolate. On a happy/hippy note - all Sunstone's wines are organically grown, so if you've got allergies, sensitivities or are just not a fan of damaging the environment for a little wine, this is the vineyard for you.

The afternoon wound down with a stop in Solvang (since we met in Denmark, going to a large Danish town was a natural choice), a pitstop at Cold Springs Tavern. The evening started with dinner at The Palace* a quick nightcap at Blue Agave and stretched on to include watching the Grammy award show. The Dixie Chicks are not near good enough for five Grammies, sorry. Can we say politically motivated much? On the plus side, Scott has a new artist to play for cocktail hour. We had a late Monday morning breakfast and toured the girls around downtown before they hit the road to San Francisco - they'll be back on Thursday and I've got a ton of work to do, so I'm 'checking out' for probably a week. So....that's what I've been up to - what have you all been doing?

*If you ever get the chance, take a Brit out for a Cajun dinner. Suggest they sample the crawfish pasta lafitte, gumbo, jalepeno corn muffins, and blackened ahi. Mmmmm spiiiicy.


Eau De Incognito said...

I myself have never had a Cajun dinner, but now, armed with these suggestions, I shall have to find a cajun place.

Eau De Incognito said...

Also, eaud de expirimental is sooooo pretty. It is almost too pretty, especially for my drivel. I live in Reno. It should be a backgound shot of a dumpster and the links should have little crushed ciggarette butts next to them. I feel that the color scheme should be grey with that little touch of industrial brown, because, you know, that is what color the sky is here for 8 months out of the year. I don't know, what do you think?

Chiada said...

Sadly, I have been dreaming about long lost boyfriends from my highschool years (one in particular) and being left for days with empty nagging thoughts as to "What ever happened to him?" "Is he still alive?" "Did he die at some point after highschool?" Nothing nasty or anything for Hub-E to be jealous of. Yet it leaves me feeling quite anxious just to give my mind peace and know once and for all what happened to him. Does that ever happen to anybody?

Lauren said...

That was my dream weeeknd... as you already know! :)

girl and dog said...

Ooo!! I'm going to suggest SB to Mr. T for our next weekend getaway! So Cal RULES!! :)

Tim Halberg said...

dude... tell me next time you go wine tasting! I'll be your personal photographer and I'll cause some fun trouble!! ;-)

Oh, and be watching your P.O. Box :-)

Maya said...

Lauren - I did, actually, think of you and your wine-drinkin' man on the way.

G&D - You should totally come up. We'll be back down next...early next week sometime for more Dental Adventures.

TIM! It's TIM! I'm totally taking you up that next time - what we need is a driver so Scott can drink, too. Still on? (You guys, Tim actually shoots weddings for me - he's brilliant - I'm not just shouting indiscriminately) G&D, you should reccomend Tim - he just did an AMAZING fashion shoot down in Mexico with my other two top favorite photographers here. He's the man behind the "From Russia, With Love" Wedding link pictures.

girl and dog said...

Hey Tim, do you want to do Baja weddings? If so, shoot me an email at info@ensenadaweddings.com

Thanks Maya!

kris said...

I'm slightly embarrassed that upon reading the title of this post, I exclaimed inwardly, "I'M RIGHT HERE!!!"


Sounds like an amazing trip -- with many a happy vintage. I'm off on my own wine tour tomorrow morning -- I hope to have half the glorious time you seemed to have. Cheers!

Maya said...

Kris...no crickets here.. thought about you, too. Happy tasting!