One of the most surprising things I recently discovered is the abundance of wineries and gorgeous rolling hills — resembling Tuscany and Umbria — in California. Some of the wines are excellent and the whole wine tasting experience is so much fun, that I can’t think of a more perfect way of spending a day with friends.
We caravanned from one Santa Ynez winery to the next in the glorious sun singing along with our chosen soundtracks. We started off by buying sandwiches in the lovely town of Los Olivos. This is one of the most beautiful and quaint towns I’ve been to. Los Olivos, with its Victorian buildings still standing from the 1860s, looks like it belongs to a fairy tale book. It has eclectic art galleries, shops and, of course, wine tasting bars. For our picnic destination, we chose Curtis winery just five minutes from downtown . We unfolded the blankets on the grassy grounds and happily had lunch with seven 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’re lucky enough to have a real sommelier in our circle of friends, who taught us how to describe with a great variety of adjectives all the wines we tasted: syrah, cabernet, merlot, riesling and rosé. (He even taught us how to elegantly spit them in the bucket after savoring them.)
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 adorned with traditional clothing, clogs, and delicious pastries.
We drove back to Los Olivos to have dinner and we found a different town: Everything closes early — at around 6 p.m. — and the lively vibe is replaced by a silent, magical 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!