One of the most surprising things that I discovered in California is the abundance of wineries and gorgeous rolling hills resembling Tuscany and Umbria. Some of the wines are excellent and the whole wine tasting experience per se, is so much fun and delightful that I can’t think of any other way of spending a perfect day with friends. Driving up and down the sweet hills of Santa Ynez, we caravanned from one winery to the next in the glorious sun singing along with our chosen soundtracks.
We started off by buying sandwiches in the lovely, magic, enchanting town of Los Olivos. I’m not exaggerating, this is one of the most beautiful and quaint towns you’ll ever see; with its Prairie-style Victorian buildings still standing from the 1860s, Los Olivos is so pretty it looks like it belongs inside a fairy tale book. It has eclectic art galleries, shops and of course wine tasting bars, but we opted for the Curtis winery just five minutes from downtown as our picnic destination. We unfolded the blankets on the grassy grounds and happily had lunch with 7 different wines and great live music. It was so awesome, we even danced a little before leaving. The next winery we went to was less romantic, but was the perfect setting for our crash course in wine tasting . We are lucky enough to have a real sommelier in our circle of friends, who taught us how to describe with a great variety of adjectives the smells and to spit elegantly in the bucket after savoring the different kinds of syrah, cabernet, merlot, riesling and rosé.
After saying goodbye to the exotic birds in the back yard, we ventured to another gem of Santa Ynez, Solvang, an authentic Danish settlement founded in 1911. Everything about this town is Danish; from the colorful architecture to the bakeries. Every detail is so remarkably old world that makes you feel you’re really visiting Danmark. We strolled around the picturesque little streets admiring the fun windows with traditional clothing, clogs and delicious pastries and some of us headed to one more wine tasting spot.
We drove back to Los Olivos to have dinner and we strolled around almost a different town. Everything closes early -around 6pm- and the lively vibe is replaced by a silent, magic aura. There is no one on the streets, most people are already passed out or are dining happily with the last drinks of the day!! For this reason, reservations are highly recommended. We were considering of dining at Los Olivos Cafe but due to the long wait, we opted for the Firestone Brewery where we switched from wine tasting to beer tasting! Oh joy!! Life is good!