I’ve been working WAY too much this past several months, and I really needed to take a couple days off to get away and de-stress.
My husband suggested a spa weekend. I have to be honest — I don’t really care much for spas. I mean, they’re great… but that doesn’t really float my boat.
Then it occurred to me — how about a wine country weekend? I’m a serious wine lover. And I am lucky to live in California, where we have some of the best wine in the world (seriously, our wines are up there with France, Italy and Spain).
I don’t even have to fly to Napa. It’s an hour drive from Los Angeles to Santa Ynez wine country just north of Santa Barbara. In fact, I almost like it better than Napa or Sonoma because it’s so laid-back, with fewer tourists. People say Santa Ynez is like Napa was twenty years ago.
Ever see that movie, Sideways? (Hilarious! You gotta see it. Especially if you love wine.) It was set in Santa Ynez wine country.
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So I called up my friend Emily Bartlett of the Holistic Squid blog, and she whisked me away in her air-conditioned minivan SUV (oooh I got in trouble for that — see the comments) for two nights in wine country.
Why Organic Wine?
Of course, we didn’t just hit up ANY wineries. We went organic all the way. Biodynamic, even.
Read my post on why it is so important to drink organic wine: Why I Switched to Organic Wine (& How to Buy Organic Wine).
Here are a few pictures from our trip to Southern California wine country, and some suggestions on where to find organic wineries in Southern California.
Organic Wine Country Weekend in Southern California
We arrived on a Friday evening, and headed straight for my favorite pizza place, Full of Life Flatbread in Los Alamos.
This is some of the best pizza on the West Coast. Of course they have a wood-burning oven. Would I recommend anything less?
They also grow much of their produce in their own organic garden.
And yeah, they have pretty much any bottle of local wine your little heart desires. Want it by the glass? Or the flight? They got that, too.
After dinner and a few glasses of wine (and yes, dessert), we headed to one of my favorite motels, The Skyview Motel. Super cheap, plenty cozy, and a 3 minute drive from Full of Life Flatbread.
If you’re looking for HBO and room service, you won’t find it here. But the beds are perfectly fine and they even have a pool. And did I mention it’s cheap? And almost walking distance from some of the best pizza in the world? (Definitely NOT walking distance — because it’s at the top of a steep hill. NOT a fun prospect after a few glasses of wine.)
The next morning, we slept in, had some coffee and relished in our girl talk, and then we ambled down the hill (via mini van, bien sur), to the stupendous Bell Street Farm for a little brunch.
Oh yes, if you make your way to Los Alamos, you simply MUST hit Bell Street Farm. I cannot sing its praises loudly enough. Just go — you will thank me.
After the brunch, we hit the tasting rooms. Cameras and pens and notepads in hand.
That’s Emily at the Stolpman tasting room. Fabulous wine, and yes, organic!
Doesn’t she look relaxed and happy? Way better than a spa weekend, ya’ll. I’ll take a good glass of wine over a massage any day of the week.
We also went to the Coquelicot tasting room. Yes, organic, and scrumptious. I love their whites.
I don’t remember how many tasting rooms we visited that day. Probably 4 or 5.
The last one was Carhartt. I remember because they stayed open the latest.
Those boys know how to party. Good tunes (they take requests), fabulous wine, and good conversation.
After all the drinking, we headed to a restaurant — SORRY I don’t remember the name (5 tasting rooms, okay?).
That’s a caprese salad. Fancy, eh?
We stayed our last night in Solvang at an adorable little Danish-themed place called the Hamlet Inn. Inexpensive, super comfy, with a truly awesome hot shower. And right in the heart of things. The perfect place to make your wine-tasting headquarters.
Thanks, Emily, for a great weekend. Can we go back already?
UPDATE: We went back! Click here to read Part 2: Organic Wine Country Weekend in Southern California Part 2
Organic Wineries to Visit in Santa Ynez
Here’s the list of the organic wineries we visited. I highly recommend all of the following wineries if you go to Santa Ynez:
You can sign up as a wine club member for any of these wineries and they will ship directly to you (depending on which state you are in).
Want to Take a Trip Like This?
I’m SERIOUSLY considering launching a series of trips like this. Would you be interested in joining me and some of your favorite food bloggers on culinary trips to wine country (or even abroad)? Please comment below if you are interested. I’ll put you on a list to be contacted.