Monday, March 28, 2011

Santa Barbara Wine Tasting Weekend Part 3 - Los Olivos

Here is what my scenic byway looked like last weekend: Friday afternoon - Summerland. Friday evening - Santa Barbara. Saturday - Los Olivos.

The beautiful drive from Santa Barbara to Los Olivos.
It was my first visit to the California Central Coast wine country. Great region. Great wineries. Can't wait to return.

A website for Los Olivos lists 22 wine tasting rooms in the town, but one we visited was not on that list, so I am not certain that is an accurate number. Los Olivos is a cute little town and in addition to the tasting rooms, there are some restaurants and shops. Note: none of the wineries we visited have bathrooms. Los Olivos offers portable type public toilets in the town - one we used was very nice, the other one not so much. We tasted at four wineries: Richard Longoria, Qupe, Evans Ranch and Dragonette Cellars. We would have loved to do more, but there is only so much wine tasting one can do in a day. By the last winery I was done with wine. 

Richard Longoria: This was our first stop and my favorite winery of the trip. The best wines I tasted on the trip. Rick Longoria has been making wine for 32 years. They are one of the smallest wineries from the region, making only 3,500 cases annually. Rick's wife Diana did our tasting. She was knowledgeable, funny and nice. The other staff were great. And they have a cute dog on the premises. I bought wine: Cuvee June (rose), red wine blends (Blues Cuvee and HooDoo Red) and all of the Pinot Noirs were great. They have some whites which are probably good but they weren't part of the tastings as these wines weren't in stock. They also have a tasting room at the Lompoc Wine Ghetto. I highly recommend visiting this tasting room and buying their wines. 

Qupe: I like this winery too, although the tasting was not as good as Longoria. Longoria recommended we head here because I wanted an Alberino. The winery was founded by Robert Neil Lindquist, in the wine business since the 1970s. Qupe was started in 1982 and has focused on Syrahs and other Rhone varietals as well as Chardonnays. I bought some wine.

Evans Ranch: We did a wine and olive oil/vinegar tasting here - both tastings were great. I bought wine, vinegar and olive oil. Evans is part of the Gainy winery and business, which is quite large and has been around since the 1980s.

Dragonette Cellars: This is the only winery in Los Olivos where I did not buy wine. I wasn't crazy about these wines. To be fair, this was my fourth tasting of the day so I was getting burned out on tasting wines and I had already bought quite a bit of wine, so wasn't wanting to spend more money unless I found a really fantastic wine. We were served by one of the owners and he was a nice guy.

We ate lunch at the Corner Coffee House - great wood oven pizzas, good coffee drinks...and the only bathroom I saw in the town.

Overall it was a great day and I really liked this little town. I would highly recommend a visit. All of the tasting rooms were fun and the staff were nice. Most tastings are around $10 which I think is a pretty good price. I recall tastings in Napa/Sonoma often being pricier. What I like about this whole area is that it feels smaller and more laid back than Napa/Sonoma.

Booty in the boot...most of this wine was mine...
Los Olivos Trivia! 
  • Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch is 5 miles north of here.
  • Fess Parker's winery, featured in the movie Sideways is near here.
  • Fess Parker was the star of Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett.
  • Other famous people who've lived in this area: Ronald Reagan, Gregory Peck, Jimmy Stewart, Bo Derek, Steven Seagal (ha!)

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